Davis Love III : 742 Starts and still leading

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 06: Davis Love III tees off the 17th hole during round one of The Greenbrier Classic held at the Old White TPC on July 6, 2017 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 06: Davis Love III tees off the 17th hole during round one of The Greenbrier Classic held at the Old White TPC on July 6, 2017 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Davis Love III is playing as much for his love of the game as he for the win at the Greenbrier.

Davis Love III and Davis Love IV (Dru) are talking about golf and their relationship as they both go into the 2nd round at the Greenbrier Classic.

Since turning professional in 1985, Davis Love III had 741 professional starts before this week at the Greenbrier, where, as it turns out, he’s leading after round one.  So the 742nd time’s a charm.  However, there is another factor that may be spurring him on. His son’s in the tournament.

Dru Love is just getting started in his professional career, having played in the U.S. Open before playing this week.  He’s having a little more of a struggle as he tries to earn a place on the PGA TOUR.  He’s 4-over par after the first round.

But they were both upbeat before teeing it up.

“Thrilled to be back,” Davis said in the pre-round interview that they did as a duo.

"Since the first day we came in here this has been one of my favorite tournaments and one of my favorites golf courses."

He added that his hip and back feel every one of his starts more each season.

Dru Love is making his second start as a professional. The PGA TOUR media official joked that combined, they are making their 743rd and 744th PGA TOUR starts.

“I guess I learned a lot from the U.S. Open, some things I didn’t know that I had, and some things I figured I need to work on,” the younger Love explained.

"I didn’t get to play a whole lot in college with injuries, so anything I can play right now is good."

Any sensible physician would sign on to look after Dru because he’s been a walking catastrophe. There’s sure to be a lot of money in it.  Dru had an ankle injury in a pick-up basketball game in his freshman year.

“Had reconstructive surgery on it in the spring of ’13 and was out pretty much the entire summer,” Dru noted.

He broke his wrist when he was a sophomore.  That was from sledding with cousins.

"In my first tour start at the RSM, tore the cartilage off one of my ribs trying to hammer one out of a plugged lie in a bunker."

That was his junior year.

Then he was healthy for a season and won the state amateur and a college event.

"Last summer I had my left labrum fixed in my shoulder and was out for about eight months with that,” he added, bringing the injury count up to the present. “After I had that surgery, I got a little bit down and was a little upset that I kept on getting hurt when I felt like I was doing some good things."

Basically, he’s been a walking rehab case.

“Between the two of us the last five years, the Humana people are probably ready to drop us,” Davis said about their medical insurer.

Davis Love III
Davis Love IV (Dru) and his father Davis Love III who is caddying for him this week during a practice round prior to the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 13, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

However, now healed up, Dru said he learned a few things with his father on the bag at the U.S. Open, including some advice on the large crowds and how to deal with so many people moving around. Davis was also able to give him guidance on a shot or two.

Meanwhile, Davis is a potential PGA TOUR Champions player, but he just hasn’t moved over to that side yet.

“I watched like Jay Haas try to hang in there and play with Bill some, and Raymond with his kids or Jack with his kids,” Davis noted adding that he was playing PGA TOUR events in an effort to do the same thing.

“Obviously my injuries or surgeries the last few years have slowed me down a little bit, but I still want to try to play,” Davis explained. His most recent injury was a snowboarding fall that resulted in a broken collarbone.

"I haven’t played much on the Champions Tour, so now the decision is when is the right time to go over there. I keep telling Vijay when he goes I’ll go, but he seems to be hanging in there better than me."

The Loves are paying attention to tournaments where Dru might have a chance at a sponsor exemption or at Monday qualifying.

“I know I’m looking at where he might get in, so I want to play there as well, really just to watch and to be around and see his first few starts,” Davis said.

"Like he said, he needs to get some experience. If I can help out, like I do any of the young guys, be fun to be out there with him."

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That’s a heads up to tournament directors wanting to have Davis Love III at your event. Love has 21 tournament victories, and 20 gives him a lifetime exemption. But Dru needs a tournament exemption.

The Loves don’t intend to go easy on each other from a competitive standpoint, as Davis proved today by shooting 7-under to take the lead at Greenbriar.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s coming down the stretch Sunday or a Monday afternoon practice round, he’s going to try just as hard to beat me,” Dru explained.

"I get it from him. I’m super competitive. And I don’t want to lose in anything I do. We’ve had some good runs at each other the last couple years now that I’m catching up to him a little bit."

Davis recalled trying to beat his parents when he was growing up.

"We (tried) to beat our mom first, so that was hard enough, and then trying to beat dad. It made us compete every time we played golf. It wasn’t just go out and goof around and play golf. Made us compete and keep score and putt everything out."

However, Davis does use his son to gauge clubs.

“If he hits 8, I hit 6-iron,” Davis explained.

"It’s like any of these other guys I play with out here. I was that guy for a while, that blew it by everybody, and now they’re all blowing it by me."

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He did admit that maybe he held back on letting Dru turn pro because he didn’t want Dru to have excessive pressure to perform.  He had seen the microscope examination the Jay Haas’ sons, Jack Nicklaus’  sons and Raymond Floyd’s sons experienced.

“I remember the AJGA guys saying, When are you going to let him play in AJGA?” Davis recalled. He held off thinking Dru wasn’t quite ready.  “They gave him an exemption to his first one, and he won it. They went, Well, do you think he’s ready?”

He’s gotten pressure to add Dru to the RSM field. Davis said he said no, because he didn’t want Dru to get ahead of where he is.

“And then he goes and qualifies for the U.S. Open when I’m trying to talk him into staying amateur, you know?” Davis bragged more than complained.

"“He’s got a lot of experience to get. These kids that come out of college or turn pro early, ( like) Justin Thomas, have played a lot more golf tournaments than him. But he’s also fresh and ready to go."

Davis pointed out the difficulty that young golfers have these days trying to get to the PGA TOUR.

"I would say there are 50 or 100 kids out there, you know, Web.com, trying to make it to the Tour that have potential, have the game, and he’s certainly in that category. Dru is one, if he could get to the Tour with a Tour card, he would do really, really well. There are a lot of players that we see like that as soon as they get out there. Just getting through the process is getting harder and harder."

Next: Greenbrier Classic power rankings

So now the Loves have officially turned the corner. Ready or not Dru will stand or fall on his scores.