Love worries about too many exemptions for his son

HONOLULU (AP) – Davis Love III is headed off to play in the Singapore Open, and so is his son.

This will be the 14th time they have played in the same tournament since Davis Love IV – who goes by Dru – turned professional 18 months ago. That doesn’t include the PNC Father-Son Challenge, which they won last month with a record score. Nor does it include the 2017 United States Open at Erin Hills, where Dru played his first major as a qualifier and his father caddied.

Singapore will not be the last tournament they play together.

Success has come slowly for Dru Love. Opportunity has not.

Sponsor exemptions have been viewed with a cynical eye long before Dru Love shot a 65 as a teenager to beat his father for the first time, even before he was a toddler and his father would roll a rubber ball down the grocery store aisles for him to whack when his mother wasn’t looking.

Davis Love III (L) talks with his son Dru on the 18th hole during the first round of the Father Son Challenge golf tournament in Orlando, Florida on December 12, 2015. – AP

Would it be different if his last name was Smith?

Sure, perhaps in more ways than one.

“If he was Joe Blow, he could just go play,” Love said at the Sony Open, where he tied for seventh at age 54. “He wouldn’t get any spots, but now when he does get a chance … you know, just he tries too ha rd.”

The pressure on children of famous golfers always comes more from the outside. There is not a long history of success with fathers and sons except for Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, each four-time winners of the British Open when it was the only golf championship around.

Love is sensitive about the criticism his son might face for getting more exemptions than other youngsters trying to make their way. He isn’t lobbying for exemptions. Most times, tournaments bring up the idea of inviting his son.

Singapore was an example. Love normally would play the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour Champions opener on the Big Island this week. The Singapore Open was appealing because he might make as much or more in appearance money than if he were to stay in Hawaii, his wife had never been to Singapore and wanted to go, and the tournament inquired about Dru.

“They said if Dru doesn’t make it through Q-school, we’ll give him a spot, too,” Love said. “I’d rather him be in the Bahamas.”

The Bahamas is where the Web.com Tour is for the opening two weeks of its season.

Dru Love didn’t make it out of the first stage of Web qualifying school last fall. A month later, he shot 64 in the third round of the PGA Tour event at Sea Island and had an outside chance at a top 10 until he stumbled over the back nine.

The talent is there. So is the temptation to swing for the fences.

Love is torn between wanting to lead his son in the right direction and letting him figure it out on his own.