Love in mix

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

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.

AP/The Reg­is­ter-Her­ald/RICK BARBERO

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.

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