The RBC Heritage means a little more to Davis Love III, especially this year.
A five-time winner of the event, Love was 5 years old when his father competed in the inaugural RBC Heritage in 1969 (won by Arnold Palmer). The tournament will be held for a 55th time this week at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with Love as its honorary chairman.
“This has been such a big part of my family’s golfing life, and the Heritage means a lot to me, not just because of winning it but being able to play in it for so long, so close to home,” said Love, a resident of St. Simons Island, Georgia. “My kids grew up coming here, now my granddaughters are growing up coming here, and just a big part of my life. It’s great to be the honorary chairman.”
In March of 2020, Love’s three-story, 12,000-square foot plantation-style home of more than 20 years caught fire, and his family lost a lifetime of mementos and memories.
“Three years ago, we lost our house in a fire. (Tournament director Steve Wilmot) gave me a new trophy with all five years of winning the Heritage on it, and one thing I was missing was a plaid jacket,” explained Love on Tuesday. “It’s nice — I asked the first thing when he said would you be the honorary chairman, I said, ‘Yeah, can I get a jacket?’”
Love has played the Heritage a tournament record 33 times and was just 23 years old when he won in 1987 for his first PGA Tour win. To this day, he still holds the mark as the event’s youngest champion. He’ll celebrate his 59th birthday with more than just a new plaid jacket. On Thursday, he has an opening-round tee time alongside Si Woo Kim and Kevin Kisner.
“I’d like some birdies for my birthday this year since it’s on Thursday, the first round, and I’d like to get off to a good start on my birthday,” said Love.
With its new status as a designated event for 2023, seven of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking (and 38 of the top 50) are heading to Hilton Head. While that’s great for the tournament and the area, it’s tough for long-time competitors like Love.
“I’m going to have to play really well to get in again,” explained Love. “It’s a little bit sad for me, but I’m excited for the growth of the tournament.”
Love has 10 top-five finishes over the years at the Heritage, but has only made the cut twice in his last eight appearances.
“It’s not ready yet. Maybe something will happen between now and Thursday,” said Love of his game. “But coming off a lot of injuries. I haven’t really been able to get a lot of rounds in. You know, like Freddy Couples at the Masters, I get inspired when I get here, so hopefully things will come together for the weekend.”