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Love returns from pandemic and a house that burned to ground

St. Simons Island, Ga., resident Davis Love III won the Players Championship when it was played at Sawgrass in 2003.
St. Simons Island, Ga., resident Davis Love III won the Players Championship when it was played at Sawgrass in 2003. (PGA Tour)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Davis Love III faced a different kind of adjustment when he returned to the PGA Tour this week at Hilton Head.

Two weeks after golf was shut down because of the new coronavirus, his home at Sea Island burned to the ground. It was a total loss, flames engulfing the entire structure even with fire officials quickly on the scene.

Love said it was emotional when he and his wife, Robin, packed for the RBC Heritage.

“We didn’t have anything to pack like we usually would do,” Love said. “I’m searching for head covers, and my son gave me a ball-mark fixer on Sunday evening. I was like, ‘I just don’t have enough equipment to go play a PGA Tour event. So it’s been ups and downs like that.”

Love, a five-time winner at Harbour Town, played a practice round Wednesday with U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and another amateur in the field, Spencer Ralston.

Far more difficult was seeing familiar faces, many for the first time since the fire.

He leaned on another emotional moment in his career, returning to the tour in late 1988 after his father died in a plane crash. Love says when he showed up at the Chrysler Team Championship in South Florida, Andy Bean pulled him aside and suggested finding the right words for everyone who would be expressing their condolences.

“So I’m kind of going to go through that again,” he said. “Yesterday I got kind of worn out because I was talking so much to the people who wanted to talk to me.”

It was a good kind of tired. Love said he was happy to see so many friends after being away for three months, even though he has spoken to many over the phone.

“It’s going to be a process, but we’re moving through it,” Love said. “Again, we’re blessed. We just lost some things. Nobody got hurt, and our family is still healthy and safe.”

He said he has bought another house in St. Simons Island, Georgia. When one of the rules officials asked if he was settled in, Love said he replied, “No, I’m settling.”

“It will be a long time until things get settled for us,” he said. “But we’re moving forward. We’ve got great support at home. It’s just nice to be back out among friends.”