Not many people know the feeling of being enshrined in a hall of fame at age 36, especially when you're still one of the top athletes in that sport.
Davis Love III of Sea Island does, and he's not sure how to take it.
Love, one of three golfers inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame on Saturday night, said he appreciates the honor, but he isn't ready to sit back and reflect on his accomplishments.
A winner of 13 PGA Tour events in 15 years, including a major championship (the 1997 PGA Championship), Love says he has at least 10 more good years ahead on him on the PGA Tour.
Being inducted into the hall "feels a little awkward," said Love, the world's seventh-ranked golfer and a two-time Masters runner-up (1995, 1999).
"Somebody tonight said, `Well, it's about time,"' Love said. "I still feel like I'm a little young. It's an interesting thing for me. But I'm excited about being included with so many great players."
In the 13th annual Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta, Love went into the hall with lifelong amateur Bill Ploeger of Columbus and the late Gene Dahlbender of Atlanta.
There are now 56 members in the hall, which will be built on Reynolds Street. The Augusta Golf and Gardens portion of the hall will open March 29.
Golfers don't have to be born in Georgia to be eligible for the state's hall of fame, but they must have lived in the state for a reasonable period of time.
Love was born in Charlotte, N.C., in 1964 then moved to Atlanta in 1965 when his father, Davis Love Jr., became the head pro at the Atlanta Country Club. Love has lived in Georgia ever since, the past 25 years in Sea Island.
Another eligibility requirement for the hall is that the individual has brought honor to the state through their golf endeavors.
Love, who is second on the all-time PGA Tour career money list with more than $14 million and is known for conducting himself professionally, certainly has done that.
"In Georgia, I'm going to qualify for it (the hall of fame) just because of the strength of the PGA Tour," Love said.
Love was in the third year of his PGA Tour career when his father died in a plane crash in 1988. It was his father who taught him the game, as well as many lessons in life, as Davis documented in his 1997 book Every Shot I Take, a tribute to his father.
Love Jr., was one of the best-known golf instructors in the country at the time of his death. He was also an accomplished pro golfer, playing in two Masters, eight U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships and two British Opens.
Love Jr. was a first-round co-leader of the 1964 Masters, but he finished tied for 34th. Davis was born a day after the 1964 Masters ended.
When Love Jr. was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 1991, Davis attended the banquet, accepting the honor for his father.
"I look at this (induction) as another way to recognize my dad," Love said. "To show how much he put into the game and how much he gave to me. Not only did he do a lot for golf in Georgia, but he influenced me to do a lot for golf in Georgia."
No one in the Love family was more excited about Davis' induction than his mother Penta, who attended Saturday's induction ceremony.
"I want to put this the right way .. she's a lot more excited about it than anybody else in the family," Love said. "I'm in the middle of playing and trying to win golf tournaments. She's got a better perspective as to what it will mean to me down the road. I like to see the excitement in other people. When they feel like it's important, it becomes more important to me."
Here is a list of the 56 members of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. To be eligible for induction, an individual must have been born in Georgia or lived here for a reasonable period of time or participated in a golf activity in Georgia. An individual must have participated in golf for 20 years or inactive for five years.
Charles Black Jr.
Mary Lena Faulk
Alexa Stirling Fraser
Oscar Bane Keeler
Jack Key Jr.
Mary Dorothy Kirby
Davis Love Jr.
Davis Love III
Hobart Manley Jr.
Frank Mulherin Jr.
Hugh Royer Jr.
P. Dan Yates Jr.
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851.
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