Golf365 History: Davis Love III on the Ryder Cup and his career
In the latest The Round podcast, which Golf365 readers can listen to a week in advance of the launch, Davis Love III is candid about the Ryder Cup experience.
Davis Love III racked up 21 top tens in the major championship, he triumphed in one of them, he is a two-time winner of the Players Championship, owns a total of 21 PGA Tour titles and turning 50 hasn’t stopped him in his track – the last of those victories came at 51 and, now 54, he contended in this year’s Sony Open.
But in the latest installment of The Round podcast there’s a real sense that the Ryder Cup is the event which has most fulfilled the man born and bred in North Carolina.
In fact, when he selects the round which defines his career, Love III chooses his debut in the biennial match and specifically his singles match against Constantino Rocca.
“There’s no greater pressure than the Ryder Cup and no greater pressure than seeking the last point,” he explains, 26 years on from that experience. “It was an away game, I’m a rookie, I’ve got captain Tom Watson, plus Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins, Ray Floyd, all my heroes, following me, it looks likes, with five or six holes to go, that I need to win.”
A brief pause.
“That the most pressure I’d ever been under.”
For fans of the Ryder Cup Love provides great insight into the unique burdens of the week.
The realization that his point was decisive?
“It was like in Caddyshack when all the folk come out the trees to watch. That moment when all the wives turned up? I knew I needed to flip my match.”
His first understanding of the importance of saying the right thing, a lesson that would prove essential years later when he became captain (and assistant captain) himself?
“(Tom) Watson walked with my to the 17th tee saying ‘We need this point.’ I learned then, he was nervous. I (also) learned then how you’ve got to think about what you say. That was not a Bob Rotella moment. But I turned it into a positive by calming him down.
“I always laugh when I start out on the fairway as an assistant captain or captain to talk to a player because you can really mess it up. I told Steve Stricker in 2012, ‘Don’t worry everything’s going fine, don’t look at the leaderboards, the guys behind you are doing fine’ and he looked like he’d calmed down, but after the fact I said, ‘That didn’t help you at all did it?!?!’ and he said, ‘No, I knew you were BS-ing me.’”
The unlikely thoughts that flow through your head when you hole the putt to win a Ryder Cup?
“At first I knew I was going to miss so I backed off. Everybody gasped back home, my brother was watching with them and he said, ‘Oh no, he’s not ready, now he’ll start again.’ I got over the ball, I gave it the looks, through the routine and it went in the hole.
“I put my hands up because I had done my routine and it had worked. I was not really celebrating winning the Ryder Cup!”
Love III goes on to discuss his entire career and is honest in his appraisal.
“When I look back I think I could have done better,” he says. “I could have had a tougher demeanour. Now I see what makes Tiger Woods play so well, what keeps Steve Stricker coming back, and I wish I could go back and start over. But I wouldn’t trade my life for a better career.
“I could have won more and my dad would have told you I could have worked harder on my fitness and my game, but he’d be proud what I’ve achieved.
“If you gave me all my seconds I’d still be 50 and that’s a long way behind Tiger at 80! I should have won another couple of majors maybe. Payne Stewart and Jose Maria flew past me a couple of times and I blew a few of them.
“But I don’t look back with regret. If I’d been a better player I might not have seen hundreds of horse shows with my daughter or watched my son’s college sport. But I won’t disagree if people say I underachieved.”
Ahead of the tour returning to TPC Sawgrass, the scene of his double triumph in the self-styled fifth major, Love III concludes with his thoughts on the state of the sport.
“Professionally I don’t think the game has been better. We’ve got Tiger back. We’ve got Rory, Rickie, Jordan, Justin Thomas – our stars are great young men. But we have to translate that to growing the game. We’re not gaining any golfers. That’s our biggest challenge.”
To here the full podcast ahead of next week’s official roll-out click below…
Viktor Hovland goes back-to-back in the Bahamas with Hero World Challenge win
The Norwegian held off Scottie Scheffler to win by two shots.
Home favourite Thriston Lawrence survives late scare to win South African Open
The South African beat Clement Sordet by one stroke.
Adrian Meronk wins Australian Open as playing partner Adam Scott misses out
Home favourite Scott held a one-shot lead going into the final round at Victoria GC but Meronk shot 66 to win by five strokes.
Poland’s Adrian Meronk eclipses Adam Scott to win Australian Open
Despite taking the lead into Sunday, Scott was ultimately unable to repel Meronk’s challenge.
Thriston Lawrence and Clement Sordet set for final-day battle at South African Open
Thriston Lawrence leads his playing partner by two shots.
Adam Scott leads Australian Open ahead of Adrian Meronk
Scott moved to 11 under on Saturday, one stroke better than Meronk at the summit.
Adam Scott equals course record to share halfway lead at Australian Open
Scott carded five birdies and an eagle on the 18th at Victoria Golf Club.
Hole-in-one helps Tom McKibbin make strong start in South Africa
The 19-year-old holed out with a five iron from 232 yards on the 11th hole.
A nice birdie-fest – Tiger Woods expecting low scoring Hero World Challenge
Woods withdrew on Monday due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Adam Scott relishing chance to experience a career first at the Australian Open
The tournament sees men, women and golfers with disabilities competing on the same course at the same time.