Next year, Davis Love III will ride into the World Golf Hall of Fame, still unsure whether he's worthy of joining his heroes
November 15, 2016
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
To say Davis Love III has had an exciting couple of months would be an understatement.
He completed a successful stint as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain in early October, then found out two weeks later he’d been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 52-year-old Love joins Ian Woosnam, Meg Mallon, Lorena Ochoa and the late Henry Longhurst in the Class of 2017. The induction ceremony takes place Sept. 26 in New York City.
His credentials support his Hall of Fame induction. Love is a 21-time PGA TOUR champion who counts the 1997 PGA Championship and 1992 and 2003 PLAYERS among his victories. His wins span 27 years -- and counting – with his most recent victory coming at the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
In addition to his Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances in a non-playing role, he has also played on six Presidents Cup and six Ryder Cup teams. He is the son of noted instructor Davis Love Jr., who died in a 1988 plane crash, and has imparted the love of golf in his son Dru (Davis Love IV), who plays at Alabama.
Just two weeks after his Hall of Fame announcement, Love competed at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open -- his first PGA TOUR start since having hip surgery in July. After the second round in Las Vegas, he fielded a phone call from the PGA TOUR after the second round, laying in the grass by the fitness trailer while answering questions.
“They’re probably looking out the window waiting for me to come in there so they can put me back together again for one more day,” he said, laughing.
Love eventually finished at 8 under for the tournament, tying for 41st. This week, he's the tournament host at The RSM Classic, held near his home in Sea Island, Georgia. It'll be a busy week as he balances his duties outside the ropes while also competing as one of the 156 players in the field.
Here's what Love had to say about becoming a Hall of Famer.
PGATOUR.COM: What has the reaction been to the Hall of Fame announcement? Any particular text, call or letter stand out?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think it’s a lot like when I won my 20th and got a lifetime exemption, I didn’t really think that much before it and I didn’t really plot for it. But when you see the reaction of the players, especially the veteran players, everybody congratulates you, I’m like, wow, that is a big deal. It’s the same thing with the Hall of Fame.
It’s been amazing to see so many people say how important it is to them. Like Bubba Watson (said) at the end of the Ryder Cup: "My two biggest goals in my career are to be Ryder Cup captain and be in the Hall of Fame." It makes you sit back and go, wait a minute, I’ve kind of taken that for granted almost. And Bubba also said being Ryder Cup captain is a version of the Hall of Fame.
I think Meg Mallon had the best line at a press conference we all did on the phone (in the Hall of Fame announcement). She said, "I have to keep pinching myself," and that’s kind of the way I am.
Every once in a while, I go, I know I don’t want to take it deep and I don’t like being the center of attention, and I don’t like that, BUT I can’t believe I am in the Hall of Fame with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson and Tom Watson. It doesn’t seem right. So I am pinching myself. And it’s been nice to see the player reaction. And it’s nice when they come up to you and go hey, it’s about time. That makes you feel good.
And I’ll tell you another thing that I realized today – and I’ll hear one or the other, Hall of Fame or Ryder Cup every other fan that says something. But you know what’s amazing? People are thanking me. Fans, not players, fans are thanking me, saying thank you for bringing the Ryder Cup back. I wasn’t expecting that.
But they’re so jacked up to have the Cup, they’re thanking me. Thank the players. But the Hall of Fame on top of an incredible build-up and an incredible Ryder Cup, is quite a follow-up to that.
PGATOUR.COM: Have you ever been to the World Golf Hall of Fame (located in St. Augustine, Florida)?
LOVE: I haven’t been since it was in Pinehurst. So no, I haven’t been to the new one. I’ve been to the hotel and golf course but not in the actual Hall of Fame.
PGATOUR.COM: Well, you’re going to have to make a special trip.
LOVE: Everyone’s been asking me what I’m going to put in for my memorabilia, display items. And I said I haven’t even thought about it.
So I’m going to have to go, the next time I’m driving by there and see if I can get in for free and look at their displays and see what people actually have in there. It will be a fun project.
PGATOUR.COM: That was going to be one of my questions.
LOVE: I don’t really know how much or what. But I do have a bunch of cool stuff. I’ve accumulated so many things over the years, and I’m not a good scrap-booker or much on displaying my stuff so it will be fun to pick out some things.
PGATOUR.COM: Have you thought about who might induct you?
LOVE: Honestly, I haven’t gotten that far, either.
PGATOUR.COM: When did you even think about the Hall of Fame, that it might be a possibility? Was it after you won the PGA?
LOVE: No, just whenever, I guess on the board, you start seeing people go in, and we obviously work closely with the World Golf Hall of Fame on a board level. And people started saying, you know, one day you’ll be in there. Then you start watching your buddies go in there.
I think really when Fred went in. I thought, you know what, maybe this is a reality. Maybe I will get it. That was probably the moment. You realize, hey, I’ve played with Fred a long time and we’ve had a similar career, maybe I am going to get in soon.
PGATOUR.COM: What do you think your dad would say?
LOVE: I think he would be proud. You know, and a lot of guys have said this, not just me, but maybe it’s not all on playing record, sometimes getting in the Hall of Fame. I might be on the bubble for enough wins but the way I’ve carried myself and the way I’ve tried to do the right thing and give back to the game carried a little weight, and I think he’d be proud of that.
I think the Payne Stewart Award, the Bob Jones Award, and the Hall of Fame, he’d be as proud of that as any golf tournament or any number of wins.
PGATOUR.COM: Of all the players that are in the Hall, is there any one player or several players you’re most excited to be in there with?
LOVE: As a kid and on the TOUR, it’s hard to separate Jack and Arnie. When I was a kid going to majors and watching them play at Atlanta Country Club, coming out on TOUR, it was Jack and Arnie for me. No offense to Gary Player or anybody else, but it was Jack and Arnie.
I grew up watching them play. I got to come out on TOUR and they were still maybe not active players but they were still around and I got to know them and they were both my captains, so, yeah, to be in the Hall of Fame, my immediate reaction is I can’t believe I’m in the same Hall of Fame with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. I really can’t separate them.
And to have gotten to be friends with them and done so much with them and seen what they’ve done for the game. Everything we do, my generation, is to give back because of what Arnold and Jack did for us. Watching them create golf tournaments and run golf tournaments years after they get done playing, well, it made me want to do the same thing. Whatever it is, we always look to them.
I’ve been Ryder Cup captain twice, had Jack in the locker room, player team rooms, just because we want Jack around. He’s such a big influence. Or, we had dinner at his house, you know, the whole deal. To me it’s Jack and Arnie.
If I was going to argue my case NOT to get in, I’d say, well, wait a minute, Jack and Arnie are in the Hall of Fame, that’s what the Hall of Fame is. Not me. So yeah, when I go to look and see what people put in their displays, I’ll go to see what Jack and Arnie put in there.
PGATOUR.COM: Is there anything left that you want to accomplish that you haven’t?
LOVE: Yeah, I just want to keep playing. I feel like I can still compete a little bit. You know, somebody the other day said you should try to break Sam Snead’s record and be the oldest to ever win a tournament.
I didn’t set out with any goals like that but I’d like to just stay competitive on the regular TOUR and (PGA TOUR Champions) for another 10 years and enjoy playing and competing.
I don’t have any specific goals but it would be nice to stay out here long enough to play with Dru if he makes it. I’m playing with all his buddies now. Holy cow. Every kid in the locker room I know because they know Dru, not because they know me.
So it’s amazing, or other player’s kids like Kevin Tway. I’m enjoying being out here with these kids but I know I’ll have to work hard to stay out here.
Outside the Ropes: Davis Love III
It’s not exactly six degrees of separation, and Davis Love III has probably never met Kevin Bacon. But he has competed with – and against -- many of the players whom he’s joining in the World Golf Hall of Fame next year. Here are some examples:
THE PRESIDENTS CUP
His Hall of Fame teammates have included: Phil Mickelson (6 times), Fred Couples (4 times) and Mark O’Meara (twice).
His Hall of Fame captains have included: Jack Nicklaus (3 times) Arnold Palmer, Hale Irwin and Ken Venturi.
His Hall of Fame opponents have included: Vijay Singh (6 times), Nick Price (5 times), Ernie Els (3 times), Greg Norman (3 times) and Jumbo Ozaki (twice).
THE RYDER CUP
His Hall of Fame teammates have included: Phil Mickelson (5 times), Fred Couples (3 times), Mark O’Meara (twice), Tom Kite (once), Raymond Floyd (once), Lanny Wadkins (once), Ben Crenshaw (once), Curtis Strange (once), Payne Stewart (once).
His Hall of Fame captains have included: Tom Watson, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange.
His Hall of Fame opponents have included: Colin Montgomerie (6 times), Bernhard Langer (4 times), Jose Maria Olazabal (3 times), Nick Faldo (3 times), Ian Woosnam (3 times), Seve Ballesteros (2 times).
Love has captained two Ryder Cup teams. Mickelson was the only Hall of Famer on either side in each one.
PGA TOUR WINS
Four of Love's 21 career wins have come with eventual members of the Hall of Fame finishing as runner-up
1992 PLAYERS: He won by four over four players, including Nick Faldo and Tom Watson
1993 Infiniti Tournament of Champions: He beat Tom Kite by one
1996 Buick Invitational: He beat Phil Mickelson by two
2001 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: He beat Vijay Singh by one
2003 International: He won by 12 points over Singh and one other
Love has teamed with Hall of Famers in eight of his 15 other wins
He won the 1990 and ‘95 JCPenney Classic with teammate Beth Daniel
He won the 1992 Franklin Funds Shark Shootout with teammate Tom Kite
He won the 1992, ’93, ’94 and ’95 World Cups with teammate Fred Couples
He won the 1996 Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge with teammates Fred Couples and Payne Stewart