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Davis Love III: New hip, same ol' great guy

Davis Love III: New hip, same ol' great guy

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John Deere Classic Pro-Am

PGA Tour pro Davis Love III walks up the second fairway during the John Deere Classic Pro-Am Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in Silvis.

SILVIS — It is a shade past 11 on a Chamber of Commerce-like morning.

In the middle of the practice range on the grounds of TPC Deere Run, two old guys are talking about fake hips.

Each has one.

One of them — that would be me — is old by PGA Tour standards. The other— Davis Love III, winner of 21 PGA Tour events — is 54, but most people wouldn’t call him old.

They might call him major champion, World Golf Hall of Famer, two-time Ryder Cup captain, or arguably the most gracious and modest professional golfer going. But they wouldn’t call him old.

Just eight months after having his left hip replaced, he’s taking on players 30 years his junior in the John Deere Classic.

“’I was told I would be swinging a club by six weeks, then advancing and doing other things by this point and other things by a certain juncture,’’ Love said of his post-hip-replacement progress. “I was playing in March (2018) and I’m here playing eight months into it. I’m sure at one year I will have progressed even more. It’s going well.’’

The winner of the Wyndham Championship at age 51, following spinal fusion surgery, Love says the fatigue he feels when golfing these days is more about being age 54 than having a new hip.

“Getting to Sunday and what comes with that is more about age than anything,’’ he said with a chuckle. He does admit that he and Steve Stricker, also in his 50s, often talk about playing on the Champions Tour — which is for players 50 and older — but they still believe they can hang with the 25-year-old stars of the PGA.

“The Sunday pain is from hills and walking and being 54,’’ Love said. “The hip — and I have always walked funny — is good, so you can’t tell if it’s sore or not. There are some things in life I cannot do because of it, but golf and my hip are getting better together.’’

Playing on the PGA Tour also allows Davis Love III to play with — and against — Davis Love IV, his 25-year-old son, who goes by “Dru.’’

Dru Love is playing at the JDC, his sixth PGA Tour event, on a sponsor’s invite. His best PGA finish is a tie for 30th at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he won $27,000.

“It’s special to see him out here,’’ the elder Love said of his son, for whom he caddied at the 2017 U.S. Open. “I’d love to make it to the (British) Open and go over (to Carnoustie, Scotland) on Sunday, but if that doesn’t happen, I’d like to play the Barbasol Championship (July 19-22) and have a chance to be there with Dru. It might be good to take a week off and rest, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to play with him.’’

The Loves have a firm grasp on what goes on inside the ropes. Away from the course, it’s just a dad sharing time with a son.

“We talk about where to eat and what to do in the middle of a tournament,’’ Love said. “If he has an issue with something, I’m still his dad, and I will help the best I can. He came to me and said he has to give a clinic next week, and he wanted me to tell him how to run a clinic.’’

On the driving range before play started in this week’s JDC, the man with 179 Top 10 finishes and 30 runner-up placings in his amazing career spoke glowingly of his surroundings.

As the host of the RSM Classic in November, Love knows the value of community involvement, at which the JDC excels. There is passion and reverence for the Quad-Cities’ PGA Tour event in Love’s words.

“Each time I go somewhere or do something at this tournament, a volunteer thanks me for coming,’’ Love said. “They thank me! I’m the one thanking them, because if it was not for them, there would be no tournament.’’

Love’s RSM tournament borrowed an idea from the JDC, which has a Birdies for Charity contest, and coined Birdies for Love, which has raised millions in the St. Simons, Ga., community.

“(JDC tournament director) Clair Peterson and his staff do great work and have been gracious and willing to share with us,’’ Love said.

“This event has a niche and fosters amazing relationships. It’s a great example on how to unite the PGA and a community. I mean, I have never come from anything here and not been thanked by a volunteer.’’

He’s also received more than thanks. A $10 Whitey’s Ice Cream gift card was given to him by volunteer chairman Tony Carpita, Love said.

After our chat, time came for one of the two old guys to get to work.

Not me, silly. One of golf’s best.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.

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