WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Davis Love III has played 95 major tournaments since 1986, winning three. And at age 50, he is looking for No. 96.
That’s where the Open Championship Qualifying Series, his luck on Friday at the Greenbrier Classic and his good play on Saturday comes in. One note about the latter: He shot a 5-under-par 65 on Saturday to come off the cut line at 5-under for the tournament, and is tied for 19th.
Love has to put up a similar score today and get some help to advance to the British Open, two weeks away at Royal Liverpool. It can happen — those with late tee times often have struggled in the Classic, perhaps more so this week.
Until this year, Love would have zero chance. The world ranking deadline is past and Love is way out of the top 50 anyway. He would have had to go through a one-day, 36-hole qualifier in the States or tackle the local qualifying system in Great Britain.
But this week, he is getting the chance to qualify at the Classic. The goal: make the top 12 overall, then make the top four among those who haven’t already qualified for the British. He is three strokes out of that derby, which is led by Kevin Chappell and a number of players at 8 under.
Even without the chance to qualify for the British, Love just wants to bring his game up. He did so Saturday with a bogey-less round, scoring birdies on four par-4s on the front side. He started with a 27-foot putt on the first, nailing a 35-footer on the fifth, sticking his approach withing 3 ½ feet on the sixth and hitting a 13 ½-foot putt on the ninth.
He almost didn’t get to Saturday, as he suffered three bogeys on the front nine (he teed off on the 10th) to finish with a wind-blown 73. But he survived as the cut rose to even par, and 89 players advanced. Love was one of 21 players shooting a 36-hole 140.
“When we finished on 9, [the cut line] had already switched to even and it looked pretty safe,” Love said. “You never know. Some guys actually went home and had to come back. I was pretty disappointed; I made some silly bogeys on the back to get back to even.”
As for today, can he make that magic top four and head overseas for his 27th British Open?
“If I win here, I know I’ll get in,” he said with a chuckle. “I need to put a Stuart Appleby on ’em [i.e., a 59] and take care of getting in the British.”
Other morning movers include Bill Haas (65, 6 under for the tournament), Hudson Swafford (65, 6 under) and Kyle Stanley (66, 5 under).
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.