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It's Raining on Their Parades at Valencia

Golf: Love was all set to play in the Nissan Open until he remembered that he had forgotten to enter.

February 24, 1998|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Davis Love III was all set.

Hotel? Check.

"He had called us to check on them," said Kevin Boucher, a volunteer with the Junior Chamber of Commerce, which stages the Nissan Open.

Airline reservation? Check.

"I have a 10 o'clock flight Monday out of Savannah," Love said.

Practice time at Valencia Country Club? Check.

"I was going to play early Tuesday, and they had even asked me about that Tour Challenge," Love said, referring to an event today for selected players.

Ancillary activities? Check.

"I had an appointment with a Make-a-Wish child on Tuesday," Love said.

Tournament commitment?

Uh-oh.

Love, winner of last year's PGA Championship, third on last season's money list with earnings of $1,635,953, four times winner of more than $1 million in a season, sixth on the all-time money list with more than $8.5 million, 23rd on this year's list with $147,875, a PGA Tour player since 1986, a member of the PGA Tour's Policy Board, neglected to do the one thing necessary for him to compete in the $2.1-million Nissan Open.

He didn't tell tour officials he was playing by 5 p.m. Friday.

"It's my fault," Love said.

The procedure is a simple one.

By 5 p.m. on the Friday before a tournament, a player calls PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and says he's coming. He is assigned a number, much like a hotel reservation confirmation, and that number is entered into a database.

"I thought I had done it," said Love, who did not play in last week's Tucson Classic--at which a PGA Tour official might have asked him about the Nissan--and who had figured on playing at Valencia as his fourth tournament of the eight-event West Coast swing.

"I haven't played the course, but I understand it sets up well for my game," he said.

He found out Sunday night it didn't matter how the course sets up.

"I got a call from a friend of mine out there, and he said my name wasn't on the list of players he saw in the paper," Love said in a call to The Times. "Do you have an up-to-date list?"

Told his name wasn't on it, Love said he would call the PGA Tour on Monday to see what had happened.

"He found out he hadn't entered," his agent, Vinny Giles, said Monday. "He called me and said he had no excuse. 'I'm just a dumb . . . ,' he said.

"I hate to talk out of school, but this isn't the first time this has happened."

"It happens to a handful of players every year," said Dave Lancer, a PGA Tour official.

"No," Giles said. "I mean it's not the first time it's happened to Davis."

Often when it happens, the player doesn't find out until he shows up, only to leave with a red face and no money.

"Mark O'Meara flew out here from Florida for a tournament a few years ago [in 1995], only to find out he hadn't committed," Lancer said. "So he flew back to Florida and added the Honda Classic to his schedule there.

"He won it."

When a player learns he isn't on the list, one of two things has happened, Lancer said:

"He forgot to tell us he was coming or we have made a mistake in bookkeeping. It happens, but not often."

So the Nissan gets an alternate player instead of a PGA Tour "name" and Love gets a week off he hadn't planned.

"It's too bad," Giles said. "He's been playing well and he was looking forward to playing there."

Or maybe, "after last year, it will work out for the best," Love said.

"You remember last year."

Love had made the cut at Riviera, though he was eight shots behind leader Don Pooley after two rounds.

He never played the third round.

"I went to the hospital, and it turned out I had kidney stones," he said. "I don't ever want to go through that again."

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