Eds: With AP Photos.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — There were times when Davis Love III and Davis Love IV made it seem like any other round of golf they have played at Sea Island.
On the opening hole at the Seaside course, the 21-year-old son hit wedge toward the flag and his father pleaded, “Go!” until the ball settled about 10 feet below the hole. Love followed with a wedge of his own that landed just beyond the flag and stopped 5 feet away. “Good shot, Dad,” the son said.
Only this day was different.
It was the opening round of the RSM Classic. It was the PGA Tour debut of Dru Love.
And yes, there were plenty of nerves, only they belonged to his father.
“I was a little flustered,” Love said. “I was running late and nervous for him, and then he hit it right down the middle and hit it stiff and made birdie. And I stopped worrying about him and started worrying about me a little more.”
Now both of them need to worry about making the cut.
Love, the tournament host, and Dru Love, a junior at Alabama, each wound up with an even-par 70 and were seven shots to par behind Kevin Kisner, who shot a 7-under 65 on the Plantation course.
Here’s what they can expect on Friday:
THE LEADER: Kisner hit 3-wood to 35 feet onto the fringe and made eagle on his penultimate hole to take a one-shot lead based on par.
Jeff Overton, David Hearn and Tom Hoge each had a 6-under 64 on the Seaside course. Kevin Chappell, Kyle Stanley and Jim Herman had 6-under 66 on Plantation.
Kisner has done everything but win this year. He has lost in a playoff three times — to Jim Furyk in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, to Rickie Fowler at The Players Championship and in a four-man playoff at The Greenbrier Classic. And then he was runner-up by two shots to Russell Knox in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Discouraged? Only slightly. In every case, the other player won instead of Kisner feeling as though he did something to lose.
“I haven’t been disappointed in any stretch of golf coming down the stretch to have a chance. I always rate myself on that,” Kisner said. “I’ve just gotten beaten a few times, so hopefully I’ll have a chance coming down with a couple-shot lead on Sunday.”
HOME GAME: Davis Love III has lived at Sea Island since he was 13 and raised his family in the Golden Isles. Dru Love said he knew just about everyone in bleachers behind the first tee and following along the fairways. He has played these courses — Seaside and Plantation — more than any others in the world.
That’s a help. But it might have been a burden.
Dru Love hit 3-wood off the tee to get it in play, and then a wedge to 10 feet for an opening birdie.
“After I birdied the first hole, my expectations were a little high,” he said. “I’ve played this course a lot and I’ve played it well. I thought I could play better than I did.”
He didn’t make another birdie until reaching the green in two on the par-5 15th.
FATHERS AND SONS: It is rare for fathers and sons to compete in the same PGA Tour event, but far from unprecedented.
Craig Stadler and son Kevin played in the 2014 Masters. Jack Nicklaus decided to play his final full season in 2000 when son Gary earned a PGA Tour card. Jay Haas and son Bill played several times together because Bill Haas is a six-time tour winner.
What made this different was that Love’s son is still in college — and the tour tweaked the groupings so they could play together.
THE COURSES: Love asked the PGA Tour to use two courses this year to expand the field to 156 players and make sure everyone who had a full PGA Tour card had a chance to play. The RSM Classic got that and more.
Everyone from the Web.com Tour Finals got in, along with a long list of past champions that included Mark Hensby at No. 960 in the world.
Hensby opened with a 68.
The average score at Seaside was 68.6 for a par 70. The average score at Plantation was 69.8 for a par 72.
THE CUT: The forecast was for stronger wind and slightly cooler weather, which could be an advantage for Love and son because the Seaside course they played in calm conditions Thursday is more exposed.
Dru Love said his goal was to make the cut in his first PGA Tour event. And he had another goal.
“Beat my dad,” he said. “I didn’t beat him today. Obviously, my goal is to make the cut. I’ve got that in the back of my head. I’ll try to be more patient.”
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