Veteran American Davis Love III hopes to roll back the years at this week’s SMBC Singapore Open and achieve his twin goals of contending for the title and snaring a spot in The Open.
The World Golf Hall of Famer arrived at Sentosa Golf Club in confident mood after one of the best scoring performances of his career at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.
Playing his 762nd official PGA Tour event, the 54 year old shot four rounds in the 60s to post a 16-under 264, just one stroke shy of his career-best 263.
That was good enough for seventh place, six strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar but just one shot adrift of a group of four players who tied for third.
“Actually, Saturday (at the Sony Open when I shot 64) was one of my best playing games in the while and confidence is coming back,” said Love, whose sole victory in a Major came at the 1997 PGA Championship.
“I’m excited about my form and came here with high expectations, what with the great greens, great golf course and the four spots to get into The Open Championships, so I was definitely gearing to this point this week. “
Love resumed playing last March after a hip replacement and his display last week has strengthened his resolve to compete full time on the PGA Tour this season.
His decision to play the SMBC Singapore Open, where he will be up against defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, England’s Paul Casey – the highest-ranked player in the field at world number 24 – multiple winner on the European Tour, Matthew Fitzpatrick and the cream of the Asian and Japan Tours, was made easier by the tournament’s standing as a qualifier for The Open at Royal Portrush in July.
Love has made no secret of the fact that he would love to play the Majors again with The Open, where he last played in 2012, his main target. The leading four non-exempt players come Sunday will book a ticket for The Open.
“The opportunity to come to play in Singapore where I’ve never been was a big draw. The four spots for the Open was a big draw,” said Love, a former Ryder Cup player and captain.
“If I putt the way I did last week, yes (I have a chance of qualifying for The Open). I’m not the longest player in the field, I used to be. I’m going to figure out where to hit it off the tee. Playing late Sunday in Hawaii I didn’t have time here to play extra practice rounds so there’ll be a lot of studying tonight to figure out where and how to hit it off the tee. But from the fairway to green and putting, my game is in pretty good shape and I’m excited about my chances.”
While the majority of this week’s field will have been born after Love won his first PGA Tour title in 1987, he believes he can hold his own over the Serapong Course.
“It’s in great shape, it’s challenging – off the tee you need to be very smart with the clubs you hit and where you hit it, but it’s a great golf course,” said Love, whose son Dru will also tee it up in the SMBC Singapore Open.
“Big rolling greens where you have to hit it in the right section of the green and your putting is going to have to be spot on. I’ve been excited ever since I looked it up in the world rankings, and looked up the designer and talked to the players who’ve been here in the past. I’m excited about the golf course, the tournament, and the chance to compete with these guys.”
Dru, who arrived in Singapore earlier than his father, has been helping Dad to settle in and has given him one piece of sound advice in the steamy conditions: “Drink a lot of water, that is all I say.”
The US$1 million SMBC Singapore Open tees off on Thursday with Love III in the same group as Japan Tour number one Shugo Imahira and Asian Tour standout Justin Harding of South Africa.