Love in mix
Davis Love III, 53, shot a 7-under par 63 on Thursday in The Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., leaving him two strokes behind Sebastian Munoz.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Davis Love III can still get some solid work done in a PGA Tour event.
Heading into the World Golf Hall of Fame in September, Love, 53, shot a 7-under-par 63 on Thursday in The Greenbrier Classic, leaving him two strokes behind first-round leader Sebastian Munoz.
Love is looking for his first victory since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, which made him the third-oldest winner in PGA Tour history. He would be the oldest if he wins in West Virginia.
Slowed this year by a bad back and a broken collarbone suffered in a January snowboarding accident in Sun Valley, Idaho, Love took advantage of a course softened by overnight rain for his best round of the season. He birdied four of his first five holes in the morning round on Old White, the course that was reconstructed after deadly floods forced the cancellation of last year’s tournament.
His son, Davis Love IV, also is in the field, receiving a sponsor exemption. It’s the second time they are playing the same tournament; the other was the RSM Classic two years ago. The elder Love served as his son’s caddie in the U.S. Open last month.
“I’ve been working real hard the last couple of weeks on trying to fix my swing to kind of swing around a stiff back and a stiff hip,” the elder Love said. “I’ve given up on hitting it a long way. I’m just saying I’ve got to hit it straight, and this is the perfect golf course for me to get it in the fairway. A lot of hard work is kind of starting to pay off.”
Munoz, a 24-year-old Colombian, was boosted by five birdies on the back nine for a 61.
Defending champion Danny Lee was at 64 along with David Lingmerth (Arkansas Razorbacks), Ben Martin, rookie Xander Schauffele, and Canadians Graham DeLaet and Nick Taylor.
Lingmerth is looking to atone for a collapse last week in the Quicken Loans Invitational. The Swede led after each of the first three rounds but shot 3 over in each round on the weekend to tie for fifth, along with Martin.
“I’m not going to dwell on it too much,” Lingmerth said. “A nice little start today. I didn’t really have my best stuff. I never really got into trouble. I gave myself a couple of opportunities.”
Phil Mickelson shot 67 in his first tournament since parting ways with his caddie of 25 years, Jim “Bones” Mackay. Mickelson’s brother, Tim Mickelson, is his caddie for the rest of the year.
Mickelson hit some erratic shots Thursday, including striking a fan in the head on his approach to the par-4 11th.
Tag Ridings (Razorbacks) shot 67. Bryce Molder (Conway) shot 68. John Daly (Dardanelle, Razorbacks) had a 73.
Players were allowed to lift and clean their golf balls in the fairway because of the wet conditions. It took a full year after the June 2016 floods that killed 23 statewide to get Old White back to playing conditions.
LPGA TOUR Escallon, Kim share lead
ONEIDA, Wis. — Belgian rookie Laura Gonzalez Escallon birdied three of the final four holes Thursday for a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Sei Young Kim in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
Gonzalez Escallon, the 26-year-old former Purdue player who won twice last season on the Symetra Tour, also started fast in the firstyear event, making birdies on three of the first four holes.
Kim had eight birdies and a bogey at Thornberry Creek, the Oneida Nation-owned resort near Green Bay.
Tour rookies Madeleine Sheils and Min-G Kim shot 66. Sheils birdied four of the last seven holes.
Fifth-ranked In Gee Chun and Moriya Jutanugarn topped the group at 67. Jutanugarn had seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch, then played the final eight in 2 over with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 17.
Suzann Pettersen had a 68. Jutangarn’s younger sister, second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, had a 78. The six-time LPGA Tour winner had a double bogey on the par-4 10th, five bogeys and one birdie.
Brooke Henderson, the 19-year-old Canadian coming off a one-stroke loss to Danielle Kang on Sunday in the major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois, opened with a 71.
Kang, top-ranked So Yeon Ryu, No. 3 Lexi Thompson and No. 4 Lydia Ko are among those taking the week off before the U.S. Women’s Open next week at Trump International in New Jersey.
Emily Tubert (Arkansas Razorbacks) had a 73.
EUROPEAN TOUR Im, Hebert lead Open
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland — Rising Spanish star Jon Rahm upstaged tournament host Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open by shooting a 7-under 65 to move one stroke off the first-round lead on Thursday.
Rahm, ranked No. 11, showed impressive form on the links two weeks out from the British Open, rolling in six birdies and an eagle on a low-scoring day at Portstewart. He was tied for third place with Englishmen Matthew Southgate and Oliver Fisher.
Daniel Im of the United States, ranked No. 542, and Benjamin Hebert of France, ranked No. 254, held the lead after shooting bogey-free 64s.
McIlroy, the defending champion and part of a heavyweight group containing Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, parred his last 11 holes and was even par at a tournament which benefits his own foundation. The No. 2-ranked Matsuyama shot 67.
Pep Angles (Central Arkansas) shot 76.
Davis Love III fired a 7-under-par 63 and trailed Sebastian Munoz by two strokes after Thursday’s opening round of The Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.