Dru (left) and Davis Love III, son and father, will tee it up in the Sanderson Farms Championship.

 

Any father will understand when Davis Love III talks about his son, Dru.

“Honestly, if we were going to finish one and two this week, I would want Dru to win,” the father said Wednesday at Country Club of Jackson. “And it would get emotional at the end.”

And this …

“If I see him making the same mistake over and over, I get mad at him,” the father said. “But part of that is because I know what he wants – and what it takes.”

Rick Cleveland

Any son will understand what 23-year-old Dru Love said when asked if he remembers when he beat his dad for the first time in an 18-hole round. “You bet I do. It was about two years ago. He made about a 40 footer for eagle on the 18th hole. Then, I made about a 20 footer for eagle right on top of him. I asked him, ‘What was that for?’ He said 65, and then he asked me, ‘What was that for?’ And I said ’64.’ And then he turned around and walked off the green.”

Bet on this: Both of them knew the situation before either one of them made the eagle putts. And bet on this: Even though the father turned around and walked off the green, his heart was about to burst with pride.

Davis Love III and son Dru (short for quadruple because he is Davis Love IV) will both tee it up in Thursday’s first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi’s one stop on the PGA Tour. As is so often the case where fathers and sons are concerned, the son is trying to achieve what the father already has. It will be harder for Dru than most because his father has achieved so much.

For those not familiar with professional golf, a little background:

• Davis Love III, 53-year-old son of a club professional, is a 21-time winner on the PGA Tour, a two-time Ryder Cup captain, winner of the 1997 PGA Championship and was recently inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He is quite possibly the most accomplished player to ever tee it up in Mississippi’s PGA tournament. (Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller and several other future PGA superstars have played in this tournament, but it was before they became famous.)

• Dru Love, playing here on a sponsor’s exemption, is trying to earn his way onto the PGA Tour. He played collegiate golf at Alabama and is the 2015 Georgia Amateur champion. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, he stands two inches taller and probably 40 pounds heavier than his famous father, whom he obviously adores.

Davis Love III tees off the 10th tee at 7:51 a.m. in Thursday’s first round. Dru Love tees

Davis Love IV gets a club from his father Davis Love III on the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament June 15, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

off the first tee at 1:19 p.m. The father, no matter what he shoots, most likely will be there to watch his son. He rarely misses a chance. In fact, this past June, the father caddied for the son in the U.S. Open. (Dru missed the cut by a single shot in an admirable performance.)

In fact, one reason Davis Love III is playing here this week is that tournament officials saw fit to award Dru Love with a sponsor’s exemption.

But if you think that is the only reason, think again.

“I’m not here just to watch Dru,” Davis Love III said. “I’m here trying to win. I’m not giving up on the dream. If I thought the best I could do was just make the cut, I wouldn’t be here.”

If Davis Love III were to win this week, he would become the oldest player to ever win on the PGA Tour. The late Sam Snead currently holds that distinction. He was 52 years, 10 months and eight days old when he won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open. Love III is already the third oldest to win on the tour, having won the 2015 Wyndham Championship at the age of 51 years, 4 months. For the record, Love III would be 53 years, six months and 16 days old if he wins the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday.

The son believes the father could win.

“Any week he putts good, he can win,” Dru Love said of his father. “He still hits it well enough to win just about any week. He is one of the best drivers of the ball in the history of the game.”

Love III showed that two weeks ago in the CIMB Classic at Kuala Lumpur when he shot rounds of 67-73-72-68 to finish tied for 28th. He beat the spikes off several younger golfers who have won on the PGA Tour.

“It would be great to break the record,” Love III said of Snead’s achievement of 52 years ago.

And let’s be honest, it would be much more impressive to do it now than it was in 1965, because there are so many more great players now, most young enough to be Love III’s son.

And now, as we have noted, one is his son.


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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.