Waialae record-holder Love happy to be back, and off to a strong start


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

Davis Love III didn't have a single 5 on his scorecard, and that brought a high one from his caddie.

“;That was very nice,”; Love said after posting a 5-under 65 yesterday to share the first-round lead of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

It's hard to say what was more exciting for the 45-year-old from Sea Island, Ga.; no 5s or birdieing the first two holes of 2010. The latter certainly set the tone for Love, who was paired with defending champion Zach Johnson. Johnson also shot a 65 as the two golfers went out early to set the standard for the day.

“;I birdied the first two holes right out of the box at 8 o'clock in the morning on the first day of the year and that's a great way to start any tournament,”; said Love, who first got acquainted with Waialae at the Hawaiian Open in 1986. He tied for 39th.

“;But to start the first tournament of the year, and especially those holes, they weren't playing very easy this morning. I'm off to a good start and that's exciting.”;

For some, celebrating their 25th year as a PGA Tour pro might be business as usual. Love is taking a different approach. He's acting like it's his first tour of duty.

“;I got here Saturday night and I've been saying all week that I was excited to play and ready to play and just needed to get on the golf course a little bit,”; said Love, who still holds the tournament and course record of 60 set at the United Airlines Hawaiian Open in 1994 when it was still a par-72 course. It is also the low round of his career.

“;I felt like I was prepared, but I was nervous and excited to get going. I didn't really know what was going to happen. I just tried to get out and be patient and it worked. I know I'm not going to shoot 5 under every day the rest of the year, but just try to build on that.”;

Love's history in the island chain is well documented. He usually plays in the Sony Open only if he takes part in the winners-only event on Maui. But this time around. he was already on the West Coast and thought, what the heck. His finishes here range from a second in 1994 and a tie for second in 1999, all the way to missing the cut last year.

This marks the 598th start for Love. He has made the cut in 470 events, has 20 wins, 30 seconds and 15 thirds, including one here in 2004. Love has 167 top-10 finishes and has earned nearly $39 million. Among his 20 tour wins are the 1997 PGA Championship and The Players in 1992 and 2003.

The North Carolina graduate is a Life Member on tour and would like nothing more than to win his eighth tournament this century come Sunday afternoon. The secret to his success here? The Bermuda greens.

“;It's what I grew up on,”; Love explained. “;We always joke about Andy Bean (1980 Hawaiian Airlines champ) winning all of his tournaments in Florida on Bermuda grass. I've done a lot of that, too.”;

Love has played many times in Hawaii as well, including at Kapalua, long before the Mercedes Championship was born. In 1988, he and his wife were en route to Maui when his father and golf instructor died in a plane crash in Jacksonville, Fla. He turned around and went home. He didn't play here again until 1990—a tie for 43rd.

“;I like playing here,”; Love said. “;I've always enjoyed it. It's still got a lot of style to it.”;