Age is but a number.
Davis Love III went about proving that mantra Thursday, as the 53-year-old fired a 7-under 63 to take an early one-shot lead at the Greenbrier Classic.
Love got out hot in the morning wave of the opening round at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., birdieing Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 to quickly reach 4 under and the lead. Five pars followed before Love methodically took apart the back nine with birdies at Nos. 11, 14 and 17.
Love’s seven birdies were a varied set. He had tap-ins at Nos. 1 and 4, and made six-footers at Nos. 5 and 11 while rolling in an 11-footer at the second. But his birdie at No. 14 came from 30 feet and he chipped in from some 15 yards away for birdie at the 17th. When Love cozied a 52-footer for birdie to 18 inches at the last and tapped in, he had completed a bogey-free 63.
For Love, this round is pretty much out of nowhere. The 21-time PGA Tour winner had missed the cut in his last four starts and most recently caddied for his son, Dru, at the U.S. Open after failing to qualify for the action at Erin Hills himself.
After returning as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain last fall and leading the Americans to their first victory in the event in eight years, Love had an inauspicious start to his 2017. Love was forced to miss several weeks of action after breaking his collarbone in a snowboarding accident reported in January.
His first start back was a T-61 at the Shell Houston Open followed by the four consecutive missed cuts.
While the recent form didn’t portend anything special here, history could’ve given us a hint.
Love missed four of five cuts leading into the 2015 Wyndham Championship, a tournament he would win for his last PGA Tour title to date. He was 51 years old when that happened and became the third-oldest winner of a PGA Tour event at the time.
Now he’s in position through 18 holes to make even greater history. Three players from the morning wave – Graham DeLaet, David Lingmerth and Ben Martin – opened in 6-under 64. And the afternoon crew still has to come through. (Dru Love was also among the morning wave, and shot a 4-over 74.)
If Love were to continue his scorching Thursday play and end up winning this event, he would be the oldest winner in PGA Tour history. That distinction currently resides with Sam Snead (who captured the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at 52 years, 10 months and 8 days). How fitting it would be for Snead’s record to be broken at The Greenbrier, a resort where he was the golf pro for nearly 30 years and returned as golf pro emeritus for nearly another decade.
It’s really early for the possibility of the breaking of Snead’s record, but already we’ve got some special stuff from the elder Love this week. It could be a one-day wonder, but don’t be so sure considering what Love did around this time two years ago.
How special it would be if he could repeat the Wyndham feat.