U.S. Open: Team Love misses cut but Dru gets valuable experience

Jun 15, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Davis Love IV walks up the 11th fairway with his dad Davis Love III as caddie during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Davis Love IV walks up the 11th fairway with his dad Davis Love III as caddie during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Dru Love missed the cut at his first U.S. Open start, but with Dad on the bag, he got some valuable experience.

The 117th U.S. Open casualty list is long and distinguished. Team Love – son and father – is on it.

Dru Love has played in professional golf events before. In 2012, paired with his father, Davis Love III, the duo won the PNC Father Son Challenge, an event they have played many times with fields that include the likes of Jack and Gary or Jackie or Steve Nicklaus, Hale and Steve Irwin, Mark and Shaun O’Meara, and Curtis and Thomas Strange, among others.

The Loves played in the Father/ Son beginning when Dru was 14. So, Dru is used to being in the company of PGA TOUR stars, just not playing against them for real.

Then, three years after their Father/Son victory, in 2015, while still a junior at Alabama, Dru played his way into the RSM Classic hosted by his father. He had to beat Drew Weaver, Josh Teater and Cory Whitsett in special invitational event to earn a spot in the field.

Once in the RSM, playing as an amateur, he shot 70-76 and missed the cut, according to records provided by the PGA TOUR. Until this week, the RSM Classic was the total of Dru Love’s experience in playing in for-real professional tournaments.  That was before he qualified for this year’s U.S. Open. Now everything’s very real, and he becomes one of a handful of father/son or grandfather/ father/son combinations to attempt to play professional golf for a living.  Naturally, he was thrilled to have his father caddie.

It was looking good for Team Love on day one, when Dru posted a 71. But a second round 75 put him a 2-over, one shot out of the weekend play. While it is certain to be a disappointment, on the bright side, he tied Olympic gold medal winner, Justin Rose. And he beat Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and rising star Jon Rahm.  In addition, he learned a little bit more about playing professional golf.

After his first round, he admitted,

"I just never really felt comfortable, little nervous, excited."

Who can blame him.  His first, for-real, pro start is the U.S Open? We’d all be nervous.

Dru said he sought advice from the many PGA TOUR pros who live at Sea Island/ St. Simons.  They told him patience was the key ingredient.

"They said you’ve just got to take what you get and try to make the best score you can from where it bounces."

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But it was the emotion of the experience that was perhaps slightly unexpected, he admitted after he’d completed his first round on Thursday.

"I got to No. 9 and was looking down at the green and the grandstands behind there, and I was – I don’t want to say freaked out, but I was excited."

In his first round, Dru hit into the fescue three times.  He shanked a 4-iron.  It was the all-around trial-by-fire golf experience. As many have chronicled, Davis Love III has been his caddie. Dad was good for advice a few times during the first day.

On the 17th, Dru was off the fairway and in the matted down fescue where fans had been walking. That’s when his caddie earned his pay:

"I had 190 yards to the hole, and it was a little downwind, and he told me to hit pitching wedge.  I remember saying, what? pitching wedge?."

Dru flew the club 200 yards out of the round, downwind, all the way to the back of the green.

"If he hadn’t been there to tell me to hit pitching wedge, I would have soared it into the grandstands. I probably would have hit an 8-iron or maybe a hard 9, both of which would have landed in the grandstands and probably would have hopped off them.  So, a pitching wedge.  I was very surprised."

Dru credited his dad with having experience that can’t be bought.

"He’s seen all the lies and all of the possible bounces and fliers. That’s stuff that you’re not going to get if I had one of my best friends caddie for me. So, it was the obvious choice to get him to caddie for me, and I think that showed today."

Now, while Dru Love has talent galore, he also has a tough road ahead.  He will have to play his way on to the PGA TOUR, either with sponsor exemptions or by going to Web.com Q-School and earning it.

Next: Top Five Sleepers at the U.S. Open

With Davis Love III on the PGA TOUR policy board, you can be sure about one thing. If Dru becomes a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR, he will have earned it with his play.