Don’t try telling Davis Love III that the PGA Tour is a young man’s game.
Love surprised many of his peers when he won the 2015 Wyndham Championship at age 51, and he is again near the top of the leaderboard after a bogey-free 63 to open The Greenbrier Classic. He’s two strokes behind Sebastian Munoz, and Love’s 63 was five shots lower than his previous best round this season.
Love got out of the gates quickly on the newly-renovated Old White TPC, with birdies on four of his first five holes after a flurry of accurate approach shots. He grabbed a share of the lead with a 30-foot make on No. 14, then chipped in for birdie from in front of the green on the par-5 17th to become the first player to reach 7 under par.
The 53-year-old has only made 13 of 24 cuts since his Wyndham victory while battling injuries, and he hasn’t cracked the top 40 in 18 months. But that drought could end this week on a course where Love tied for ninth in 2013.
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“I’ve been working really hard the last couple weeks on trying to fix my swing to kind of swing around a stiff back and stiff hip,” Love told reporters. “I put a lot of time into hitting balls and trying to get back to hitting it solid. I’ve given up on hitting it a long way. I’m just saying, ‘I’ve just got to hit it straight.’ This is a perfect golf course for me.”
Love has not played since missing the cut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and the last time he was on-site at a tournament was as a caddie for his son, Dru, at the U.S. Open. Dru is in the field this week in West Virginia, but he trails his father by 11 shots after opening with a 74.
As for the elder Love, he enjoyed seeing some of his recent efforts pay dividends on the scorecard as he seeks what would be his 22nd career win.
“Yesterday when I finished the pro-am, even though it was kind of drizzling rain, I went and chipped a bunch out of the rough, chipped a bunch out of these tight lies,” Love said. “I told my caddie after I chipped in on 17, that was that half-hour, 45 minutes last night of putting in a little bit more time and getting some confidence. I’ve been working hard, and hopefully the rest of the summer it’s going to pay off.”