Nobody ever thought to keep track of how many grandfathers have won on the PGA Tour, perhaps because nobody ever even considered the possibility. But there was Davis Love III, playing the first six holes in 5 under par, making two eagles during the round, shooting 64 at Sedgefield Country Club and then waiting on the driving range for a playoff that wasn’t necessary.
At age 51, Love — the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team captain who will assist Jay Haas at the Presidents Cup in October — is a winner again. “It is incredible, hard to believe,” Love said. “Fun to hang in there and keep competing on the PGA Tour.”
Weren’t we just talking about how the game is being dominated by youth?
A week ago it was Jason Day, 27, capturing the PGA Championship, with Jordan Spieth, 22, finishing runner-up after a dream year that saw him win two major titles. It was only then that he replaced Rory McIlroy, 26 — a three-time worldwide winner this year — atop the world rankings.
Then along comes Love, just a few months after foot surgery, winning for the 21st time on the PGA Tour in what is all but assuredly a Hall of Fame career. It had been seven years since his last victory, with plenty of doubts along the way about if he’d ever a hoist a trophy again.
Now he’s headed to the FedEx Cup playoffs, winners-only Kapalua, the Masters and the Players, among other perks.
“Next year is my 30th year on tour and I did not want to end not playing the Players again or not playing the Masters again,” said Love, who has now won in four different decades, his first victory coming 28 years ago at Hilton Head. “I almost went to the U.S. Open qualifying, 36 holes, against my doctor and therapist’s wishes just because I wanted to play in the U.S. Open.
“I’m excited to start working my way back toward playing in some of those events and obviously this is a big step in that direction.” Love has battled injuries for most of the past five years, first having to endure neck surgery, then an ankle problem and then an unrelated foot problem that became so severe in March he could barely walk. He could no longer put off surgery, and when doctors went to operate, they found several things wrong with his right foot, leading to a couple of fused toes.
Of course, Love attempted to come back too soon, hoping to qualify for The Open. And then he wanted to play at the Quicken Loans National a few weeks ago, but the pain was still too severe. Just three weeks later, he’s a winner again, having defeated Jason Gore by a stroke.
“You just wonder … is the body going to wear out?” Love said. “I’ve seen it with a lot of great players in my day, the only thing that stopped them was their body wearing out.
“I’m very fortunate I bounced back from this and honestly, not only did the putter feel great this week, I really felt great this week. I didn’t really have an issue; my foot is probably going to hurt the rest of my life, but it’s not going to stop me from playing. It’s getting better and better.”
Love talked earlier in the week about playing a nine-hole practice round with Tiger Woods and getting some putting tips from him, as well as some other wisdom. The first of Woods’ 79 PGA Tour events came at Love’s expense in a 1996 playoff.
On the putting green Sunday morning, they urged each other on, saying one of them needed to win in order to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. It turned out to be Love. “It’s nice having friends supporting you like that, even though they’re trying to beat you,” Love said.
Now it’s on to the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship, tournaments Love is assured of playing due to moving up to 76th in FedEx Cup points — and where he’ll get to take on the likes of Spieth and Day and McIlroy and all those young stars of the game.