In a week that predominantly focused on a soon-to-be 40-year old golf legend in search of his game and in hopes of a continued 2015 season, it was a man who holds his Ryder Cup (and Presidents Cup) fate who was the hero Sunday.
2016 Ryder Cup captain (and 2015 Presidents Cup assistant) Davis Love III, at the tender age of 51, was a winner again on the PGA Tour. Anything short of mainstream ESPN attention and high focus on Golf Central will be a miss. Love III became the 3rd oldest golfer in PGA Tour to capture a win behind Sam Snead, 52 and Art Wall, 51.
So golf is all about the young guys, right…
Today, golf is in a post-Tiger “era,” where media members and those who clamor around it discuss to no end which player should assume the pinnacle of the game. They then take that player’s pedigree, record and age and decipher whether he’s worthy of the face of golf.
For a while now, the evident face of the game has been Rory McIlroy. Easily the elite talent in the world, at just 26 and with 4 majors to his name, he’s been the focus. Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson have all thrown their names into the mix as well.
But does golf need a face?
For years, great players were the focal point of the big events, racking up wins and competing against each other in these pseudo-rivalries. Perhaps a few held true animosity, but in reality, it was a group of great players, alternating victories. Some won more than others, but it made golf entertaining, if not more in a niche setting in the sports world.
Golf fans remained loyal, but mainstream sports fans didn’t.
Then came 1997 and the sonic boom of the sport. We all know how the next 15 years went.
So we were in his era. But within this stretch of time, a group of greats were overshadowed and under appreciated. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh were the main names, but there were a few others in that second tier as well.
Davis Love III was one of them.
With 21 victories now to his name, a PGA Championship and a PLAYERS Championship, this son of a PGA professional has assembled a hall of fame worthy career.
And because we’re so caught up in “eras,” we’re going to miss on the beauty of this week on the PGA Tour.
A 51-year old, team golf captain, won a PGA Tour tournament over a journeyman who almost quit the game to coach college golf (Jason Gore), a one-time Masters champ who has yet to regain the big level magic (Schwartzel), a 32-year old Augusta native whose never played in the Masters (Scott Brown) and a talented Englishman whose been plagued by injuries (Paul Casey).
These guys all have stories.
Davis Love III’s story starts as a promising young amateur who climbed his way through the ranks as a prodigious driver of the golf ball (see above) and the son of a PGA pro. He made it on the Tour young and had his first win by 23. For years after, he awed fans with his ability off the tee and entered winner’s circles on multiple occasions.
It’s the stories of the game we come to love.
As for this particular love story, he’s one of multiple surgeries in the past few years, only to recover and be a winner, one last time.
In a time where golf is so worried about who’s hands it lies is in, let us not forget some of the players who’ve helped shape and support it for so many years.
In North Carolina on Sunday, we were able to celebrate with one veteran of the tour and tell his story as a winner one last time.
The worst part about today isn’t that Tiger didn’t win… It’s that Davis didn’t wear this glorious sweater again. pic.twitter.com/do2q8z1iZm
— Troy Klongerbo Golf (@troy_usgolftv) August 23, 2015