ST. LOUIS — In April 1986 — the week after Jack Nicklaus won his sixth Masters — a new professional golf tour made a stop in Joplin.
The Tournament Players Association's Mid-America Open was held at Briarbrook Golf Course and Loma Linda Country Club (now Eagle Creek). Dicky Thompson from Peachtree City, Georgia, and Clark Burroughs, the 1985 NCAA champion from Ohio State, tied for first place at 7-under-par 207, and Thompson won the playoff on the second hole and received $16,000 from the $100,000 purse.
Before becoming a British Open winner, Mark Calcavecchia played in the tournament and tied for 38th place at 217, earning $790. He might have finished higher but a 3-under 68 at Loma Linda was lost in a washout.
That week a TPA official mentioned another golfer, and his remarks proved prophetic.
"There's a guy who plays on our tour who is not here this week," the official said. "He hits it a long way. He's going to be a pretty good player. Remember the name Davis Love III."
Imagine what it takes to play 100 major championships, being good enough for long enough. This week Davis Love III becomes the 15th to do it. No plonkers here: pic.twitter.com/gpyb45iR2X— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) August 8, 2018
Love didn't spend much time on the TPA. In 1987 he notched his first PGA Tour victory at the MCI Heritage Golf Classic. He notched 21 victories on the PGA Tour, headlined by the 1997 PGA Championship. He was the captain of the United States Ryder Cup team in 2012 and 2016, and he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017.
Love reached a milestone at this week's PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club, becoming just the 15th player to play in 100 major championships. Nicklaus holds the record of 164 majors.
"It's amazing to be in that group," Love said during a Tuesday press conference. "Another reminder that you're getting older and you played for a long, long time. But I've been blessed to play this long. When you think about it, if you played all four of them for 25 years, that's pretty incredible. And I spread it out over a little bit longer than that."
Love, at age 54, is also playing in his 28th PGA Championship, tied with Jay Haas, Tom Kite and Lanny Wadkins for fifth place behind Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (37 apiece), Tom Watson (32) and Raymond Floyd (31).
"If I don't get injured again and stay healthy, I would think I could play in a few more competitively," Love said. "I don't want to just play. If I feel like I'm just showing up to catch Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, I wouldn't do that. But if I feel like I can compete and have some fun and not get in the way, I would love to keep competing and break that record."
1997 - Davis Love III, the son of a legendary PGA Teaching Professional, recorded back-to-back 66s on the weekend for an 11-under-par 269, the lowest of any champion in Winged Foot Golf Club’s storied history.#PGA100 pic.twitter.com/601XlxUsMv— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) July 18, 2018
Unfortunately it appears that Love's tournament this week will be cut short. He shot a 5-over-par 75 in Thursday's first round, 11 shots off the lead. He birdied the first hole but had three bogeys on each side during his round of 37-38.
Forty-seven players broke par in the first round, and 14 more matched par-71. The 156-man field will be cut to the top 70 players and ties after today's second round. The cut line was 1-over last year and 2-over in 2015 and 2016.
Love's PGA Championship in 1997 came at Winged Foot Golf Club near New York City. He shot an 11-under-par, five shots ahead of the field and was one of just four players to break par.
A rainbow appeared as Love approached the final green. CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz made the connection between the rainbow and Love's father, Davis Love Jr., a highly respected PGA pro who was killed in a plane crash when his son was 24 years old.
"My mom was there watching and had a lot of family come in, so it was a very emotional win," Love said. "It was an emotional thing for all of us."
This article is written by Jim Henry from The Joplin Globe, Mo. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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