Golf insider: Love rejoicing after neck surgery

Sea Island’s Davis Love III looked pretty good last week in his first start since having neck surgery.

Love wound up finishing tied for 48th at The Players Championship in his first tournament since February. Love had fusion surgery similar to NFL star Peyton Manning’s procedure. Love said he’s been working hard to get stronger and has been “gaining 5-10 percent a week.”

Love had targeted The Players for his return, but said he won’t try to play back-to-back weeks until his strength improves. He could play again at Colonial or at the Memorial.

“It might take me all the way to the middle of the summer,” Love said. “(His therapist) wants me at 100 percent. I keep telling her, I haven’t been 100 percent for a long time. Go for 80. Eighty is going to feel like Superman.”

Love said his days at Sawgrass marked “the best I’ve felt in the last two or three years probably.”

Love played three very good rounds at The Players, where he’s won twice. He started the final round 4-under and shot 76 on the breezy final day to finish at even par.

Love will be eligible to join the Champion Tour in April 2014.

Woods’ scorecard: The victory at The Players Championship was the fourth of the season for Tiger Woods. He’s won four of the seven tournaments he’s started in 2013 and has regained his position at the top player on the PGA Tour.

To get an idea of Woods’ dominance, consider that he has already accumulated 2,340 FedEx Cup points. That’s more than the Tour’s regular season points leader has posted for the entire season in three of the last four years, since the points system was restructured in 2009. Last year Woods had 2,269 points through 37 events.

Woods has now won 78 times in 300 starts as a professional. It is the earliest he’s won his fourth event in a season. This year he’s shot par or better in 22 of his 24 rounds. His next appearance will be at the Memorial tournament.

On Tour: LPGA professionals Jane Park and Macarena Silva were co-medalists at the U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Druid Hills. No Georgian was able to snag one of the eight available spots. Amateur Ji Eun Baik of Newnan missed by one shot. … Billy Horschel’s tee shot hit the water on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass last week and ended his streak of consecutive cuts made at 23. The longest active streak now belongs to Jimmy Walker at 22. … South African Louis Oosthuizen said he probably won’t be at Merion because his wife is due to deliver a baby on the Saturday of the U.S. Open. … Auburn grad Jason Dufner is the defending champion at the Byron Nelson Classic this week. The guy to watch may be Jason Day, who has a win and two top-10s over the last three years there. Dufner has not won since last year’s Nelson.

Etc.: Columbus State has qualified for the NCAA Div. II championships May 20-24 in Hershey, Pa. It will be the 32nd trip to nationals for Columbus State, which last won it all in 1996. Georgia Southwestern’s Nate Gahman was invited as an individual. … Chris Hall of Kennesaw beat Don Marsh of Johns Creek 2 and 1 in the final of the Georgia Senior Match Play Championship at White Columns. It was the first win for Hall since he became eligible for senior competition at age 55. … “Pro’s Pro” is the latest book by Savannah-based author Joel Zuckerman. It is a story about the importance of PGA professionals and features stories about 30 of the top club and teaching professionals in the United States, including J.D. Turner of Savannah, Charlie King of Reynolds Plantation and Nicole Weller of the Landings Club in Savannah. The book is available at www.vagabondgolfer.com. … Anthony Akers, a two-time club champion at Cedar Lake Golf Club in Loganville, now owns the course. Akers purchased the 18-hole facility recently from Don Wall, the owner for the previous four years.

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