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Davis Love III’s PGA Championship triumph in 1997 remembered | Golf News

Last Updated: 13/08/18 12:25am

Longevity in golf is becoming harder to achieve, meaning the achievement of Davis Love III reaching his 100th major appearance at the PGA Championship last week is significant.

The American became just the 15th player in history to reach the landmark at Bellerive Country Club and joined illustrious company led by greats of the game in Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson.

Love missed the cut in St Louis last week and first competed on the sport’s major scene, at the PGA Championship in 1986, finishing an unmemorable T47 but his victory at the event in 1997 is undoubtedly the shining moment in his career.

The 54-year-old has captained the USA Ryder Cup team twice, including successfully leading his country to victory on home soil in 2016, and as injuries and resulting surgeries have caught up in recent years but prior to his milestone, he insisted his hunger for major competition remains firmly intact.

Most majors played all-time

Player Majors played
Jack Nicklaus 164
Gary Player 150
Tom Watson 145
Arnold Palmer 142
Raymond Floyd 127
Sam Snead 119
Ben Crenshaw 118
Gene Sarazen 112
Mark O’Meara 110
Tom Kite 109
Bernhard Langer 106
Phil Mickelson 105
Ernie Els 102
Nick Faldo 100
Davis Love III 100

We look back at Love’s winning performance at Winged Foot 21 years ago and its emotional significance…

Love had come close to winning one of the sport’s prized goals. His form at the majors prior to the 1997 edition was impressive – he had made six top-10 finishes, all coming in a three year span since 1995.

His victory at the Players Championship in 1992 courtesy of a five-under par 67 during the final round at Sawgrass demonstrated his ability to produce brilliant golf when required.

Love began his quest for a first major in strong fashion at Winged Foot, joining John Daly at the top of the leaderboard after the first round with a four-under 66.

His second round was a one-over 71 but fellow overnight leader had also fallen back meaning he sat one shot behind compatriot Lee Janzen heading into the weekend.

But an eventful third round ‘moving day’ saw significant change on the leaderboard as Love and Justin Leonard, who had won The Open the month before, created a sizeable advantage over the rest of the field.

In fact from halfway through Saturday’s play, it became apparent that the destiny of the Wanamaker Trophy was between the two Americans, who held a seven-shot lead going into the final round.

Having kept up with Leonard’s third-round blistering pace, a five-under 65, Love produced a remarkable second successive four-under 66 to join the major winner’s circle.

Davis Love III celebrates after his winning putt at Winged Foot in 1997 Davis Love III celebrates after his winning putt at Winged Foot in 1997

Davis Love III celebrates after his winning putt at Winged Foot in 1997

While Leonard laboured to a one-over 71 in the steady New York rain, Love remained assured and maintained his steely determination to race to the winning line, finishing with a 11-under total after a closing four-under 66.

What stays in the memory about his triumph was his celebration and the backdrop.

Love, who had his brother Mark on his bag, arrived to the 18th galleries amid sunshine after the moody clouds had disappeared.

Early into his professional career, Love had lost his father – a former PGA Professional – in a plane crash and as he rolled in his winning putt a rainbow was clear to see on the horizon.

The finale provided a fitting way for Love to win his pot of gold.

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