The Captains: Davis Love III
Destiny decreed that Davis Love III would one day be Captain America. He learned to crawl in a house crammed with golf instruction books and clubs of all shapes and sizes. He struck his first shots at the ripe old age of 18 months and by the age of five he was honing the swing which, in pre-technology days, would make him the longest hitter in world golf with drives booming more than 300 yards.
His father – Davis Love Jnr – quit the US PGA Tour and became a master teacher or, as many of the observers of the game at that time agreed, one of the great technicians. He gave his son – his number one pupil and his life’s work – all the attention he could. And more. Rarely in the Royal and Ancient game has there been such a bonding and mutual respect between father and son.
Then, one night in 1988, a single engine plane went down in a fog bank at Jacksonville Airport, Florida, killing all four occupants. Davis Love Jnr was one of them.
“When I decided to play the game seriously, Dad told me that if I was going to do it, then I should do it right,” said Love. “He told me that, otherwise, I should just play for fun. He didn’t want me to be anywhere in-between. He was terrific, my Dad – my teacher, my coach, my father.”
There had been no prouder man on planet earth on April 19, 1987, than Davis Love Jnr when his son captured the MCI Heritage Classic on the Harbour Town Golf Links not far from the family home.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, Davis Love Jnr would have been even prouder to hear Allen Wronowski, the 37th President of the PGA of America, introduce Davis Love III as the Captain of the United States team for The 2012 Ryder Cup.
Wronowski said: “The Ryder Cup is an event that demands both an experienced and strong leader and we have found that individual. He is the son of one of the most renowned PGA teaching professionals of our generation. He has exemplified enthusiasm for this job by competing on six Ryder Cup teams. He has been one of the most focused American competitors in memory at The Ryder Cup and his competitiveness and passion for the game, particularly The Ryder Cup, makes him the consummate captain to guide our next American team.”
Love responded: “Winning the 1997 US PGA Championship was a thrill, especially being the son of a PGA member. To be named Ryder Cup captain is a thrill I never thought I would have. I would love to share that with my father and I know that somehow I am. I’m thrilled to represent the PGA of America and thrilled to represent all of the men and women PGA professionals. As we have said a lot of times, there’s not a Tour player out there that plays one Tour event or plays six Ryder Cups that doesn’t have a PGA professional that led them to that position. So I thank all the PGA professionals, including my Dad.”
Davis Milton Love III was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 13, 1964 – the day after Arnold Palmer became the first four time winner of the Masters Tournament. His father shared the first round lead that year with Palmer but, understandably nervous about his wife, Penta, giving birth, tumbled out of contention. “By the age of nine there was no doubt I wanted to follow Dad and become a pro,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of success in junior golf but when I went to the University of North Carolina, I was ready. With Dad I had built a swing that would last.”
Love turned professional in 1985 with great credentials including, that year, being a member of the United States Walker Cup team. The rest as they say is history. Love has won 20 US PGA Tour titles; 31 titles in all worldwide. His latest success in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in 2008 arrived shortly after he received the Payne Stewart Award presented annually to a player sharing Stewart’s respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game’s heritage of charitable support and the professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.
Much respected in the golf community, and rightly so, Love made his 90th appearance in a Major Championship when he teed-up in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s and soon followed that with his 91st in the US PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. His respect and love for the game of golf has no boundaries along with his appreciation of The Ryder Cup and Medinah.
“It’s the biggest sporting event in the world,” he said. “Medinah is iconic to Major Championship golf. My wife, Robin, said if the PGA of America offered me The Ryder Cup in Chicago then I was to take it! There is so much history and tradition associated with the competition and the venue. It’s special. It’ll be a tough competition. But José María and I go way back. He has been a good friend; he’s always been respectful and supportive of my career. I look forward to competing against him; to us leading our teams together.
“I know Thursday at the Opening Ceremony we’ll be friends and on Sunday night when we get done we’ll still be friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”