AUGUSTA, Ga. - Davis Love III is not coming into this week's Masters Tournament in the best of health or on top of his game. That doesn't at all diminish his satisfaction in being at Augusta National GC for the first time in four years.
"Obviously, it feels great to be back," said Love, who qualified on the strength of a T-6 finish at last year's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach GL (the top eight receive Masters invitations). "What's been fun is seeing the members, and they're teasing me for being back and not being here for awhile. It means they noticed and they care, and that's fun. Yeah, I've missed being here, but, fortunately, it's not like I missed a whole lot in terms of any changes. It's still Augusta. It's still an awesome place."
Though Love says he is striking the ball well, he is not in fighting trim. He had to skip a couple of Florida tournaments because of the adverse effects from kidney stones - which have not yet passed. A colonoscopy on March 28 revealed that he also has been stricken with diverticulitis.
"I've had about 10-12 days of uncomfortable times. I've been a little out of whack," said a noticeably thinner Love, who missed the cut at the Shell Houston Open last week but was still glad he played so that he could "knock the rust off."
Love at the Honda Classic (Getty Images)
Love, a Georgia native whose late father, Davis Love Jr., competed in the Masters, twice has finished runner-up here, in 1995 and '99. He will be making his 19th start when he tees it up at 12:31 p.m. Thursday with Jose Maria Olazabal and amateur Lion Kim. It was Olazabal who finished ahead of Love in '99. The pairing just so happens to bring together the two current Ryder Cup captains.
Though he is not 100 percent sharp, Love does have extra inspiration to draw on the week before his birthday. He is 46 years old. It's been well chronicled how this week is the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus capturing his sixth green jacket at age 46.
"I have thought of that," Love conceded. "I keep saying, Jack was playing part-time and Jackie was his caddie, and Jack came out and just was like, 'whatever, let's go play and have fun and see what happens.' I have been working on my game, but I haven't played a lot recently. But that's the attitude I need to have is to just go out and play, and then if it comes time to get more serious, we will."
-- Dave Shedloski