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Davis Love still battling on PGA Tour at 52

By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
Davis Love still battling on PGA Tour at 52
USA team captain Davis Love III (R) embraces European team captain Darren Clarke after the United States defeated Europe to win the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota on October 2, 2016. USA defeated Europe 17-11 winning the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Even though he is 52, Davis Love III has no plans to play a full schedule on the PGA Tour Champions anytime soon.

DL3 has too much going on right now.

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This week, Love is host of the RSM Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort near his home in St. Simons Island, Ga.

And, oh yes, he also will be in the field against the young guns who will tee it up in the seventh and final event of the PGA Tour's fall portion of the 2016-17 season.

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"I know it's coming, but I'm not ready for it," Love said of the senior circuit even before he turned 50. "When I'm scratching to make cuts, when I don't feel like I can win, that's when I'll go over.

"Luckily I'm exempt (into all PGA Tour events, a distinction he earned when he claimed his 20th victory on the circuit). ... I'm not going to stay over here and take up a spot. I'll be honest with myself. You'll be honest with me."

When Love, then 51 years and four months old, posted bookend scores of 6-under-par 64 to win the 2015 Wyndham Championship by one stroke over Jason Gore, he became the third-oldest winner in PGA Tour history, trailing only Sam Snead and Art Wall Jr.

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Snead captured the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at 52 years, 10 months, while Wall was 51 years, seven months, when he claimed the 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open.

Gore said another player asked him early in the week at the Wyndham what Love was doing there instead of playing with the graybeards, and the answer came on that magical Sunday.

Love made four birdies and an eagle on the first six holes and added another eagle on the 15th, the first time he had two of them in one round during his career.

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"It is incredible," Love said following the Wyndham win. "I'm just incredibly blessed. It's fun to hang in there and keep competing out there on the PGA Tour.

"If I putt well enough to win on the Champions Tour, I can win on this Tour because I felt like I was hitting it that good. This week I putted really well. Made some great putts today that won the tournament for me."

That gave Love 21 victories on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship and the Players Championship, the so-called Fifth Major, in 1992 and 2003.

"That's like a 300-game winner in baseball," Brad Faxon said when Love reached 20. "Fewer and fewer guys are going to reach that number. It's going to be harder and harder to do."

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Love, who has 37 victories around the world, also captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team in its defeat against Europe in 2012 and in its recent 17-11 victory at Hazeltine.

He also was named an assistant by captain Steve Stricker for the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

In addition, he received the 2008 Payne Stewart Award and the 2013 Bob Jones Award.

That all added up to DL3 leading the Class of 2017 for the World Golf Hall of Fame when it was announced last month. He will be inducted in St. Augustine, Fla., along with Ian Woosnam of Wales, Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, Meg Mallon and Henry Longhurst of England.

"I'm still in shock," Love said when reached by the Golf Channel. "When (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim Finchem called to tell me and congratulate me, I was thinking this would come maybe when I was about 10 years older. What an honor, and I am humbled by the things people said about me. My Dad (a PGA teaching pro who died in a 1988 plane crash) would be proud that I upheld the traditions of the game and played well enough to win some tournaments. ...

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"The further along I got, this crossed my mind, especially when I saw my friends going into the Hall of Fame. It's gratifying that I've had a career like this. But I've still got some golf to play."

Including this week, when he tees it up at home in the RSM Classic, trying to make up for a sub-par 2016 during which he concentrated on his Ryder Cup duties and underwent hip surgery in July.

Playing for the first time in about five months, Love tied for 41st in his comeback event three weeks ago, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

However, playing this week is only one of his jobs.

As tournament host, DL3 has helped line up a field that includes Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover a week before Thanksgiving.

"With Davis being the host, he's been around a long time and those guys want to honor and respect him by playing in his tournament," tournament director Scott Reid said.

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The thing is, Love believes he can still compete with them.

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