Five-time Heritage champion Davis Love III will make his return to Harbour Town Golf Links on Thursday after missing the previous two tournaments because of injury.
Love, who turned 50 earlier this week, accepted birthday salutations while discussing his excitement at the prospect of getting back out on one of his favorite courses on the PGA Tour.
"It's one of my favorite events of the year," Love said. "It's always great to come here. It's a tradition in our family. In fact, the last few years, I didn't play, but my wife was still here."
Love was unable to get in a practice round Tuesday, something he hoped to do in order to reacquaint himself with Harbour Town after two years away. A heavy dose of rain made him one of the players forced to abandon planned practice sessions, though Love said a shot off the 10th tee was enough to show him that windy conditions would create a much more challenging course.
Still, he looks forward to making the most of a trip around one of his most successful stomping grounds, where he tallied wins in 1987, 1991, 1992, 1998 and 2003. A win this week would make him Heritage champion in four different decades.
"It's a great golf course, classic," Love said. "The course is in great shape, very similar to what I'm used to. That makes you feel good when you know the golf course well enough and you can pop right in and have experience on it."
That experience and longevity has Love thinking more about his future. The former U.S. Ryder Cup captain said he has goals he'd like to achieve, including qualifying for the U.S. and British Open. His focus -- at least for now -- remains on the PGA Tour.
Love said he draws motivation from the recent major success of other veterans such as Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Greg Norman. Love and Watson will pair with Jordan Spieth on Thursday and Friday.
"It will be fun tomorrow," Love said. "Jordan is ready to go. He doesn't need much help, except to show up on time."
PLAYERS AM ADDS SPONSOR
The apparel company Nautica will sponsor the Players Amateur, the Heritage Classic Foundation announced Wednesday.
The tournament is held in July at Berkeley Hall and annually draws some of the country's top amateurs. The event had been without a presenting sponsor the past two years after Verizon ended its involvement with the PGA Tour's Heritage.
Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot said the foundation provided enough support for the Players Am but that a boost was needed. Nautica's sponsorship will help outfit volunteers and provide gifts to players.
"It ties something into an event that has been successful in the eyes of the players," Wilmot said. "But the financial aspect of it -- we want to continue to be able to give back -- it's going to help us be able to do that."
Wilmot said he talked with RBC, which sponsors the RBC Heritage, about a possible presenting sponsorship for the Players Am, which offers the winner a spot in the Heritage. But the banking giant had a conflict with the Canadian Open. He also spoke with several apparel companies.
He said Nautica's sponsorship is part of an effort to break into golf.
STREELMAN, PETTERSSON TIE FOR PRO-AM HONORS
The teams of Kevin Streelman and Carl Pettersson tied for top honors in Wednesday's RBC Heritage Pro-Am at 17-under par.
Streelman played with Bogi Nils Bogason, Doug Steenland, Kevin Schemm and Bob Rachor.
Pettersson played with John Langhorne, Marsha Levin, Chuck Baker and Pam Allen.
Groups of defending RBC Heritage champion Graeme McDowell and Brian Harman tied for second at 15 under.
MCDOWELL STILL BAFFLED BY MASTERS PERFORMANCE
Defending Heritage champion McDowell said his disappointing finish at Augusta National is still something of a mystery to him.
"I felt about as comfortable as I've ever felt maybe on Thursday," McDowell said. "I kind of got out of my comfort zone on Friday with a double on 1."
McDowell said he did not make enough birdies to stay in contention, and admitted he still has work to do to be successful at the Masters. He has missed the cut in five out of seven attempts at Augusta.
"I didn't really have control of my iron play last week," McDowell said. "That was one of the big keys, which was putting so much pressure on my putter and I just didn't put well."
Spieth was hit on the back of the knee by a wedge shot from a player in his pro-am group on the 18th hole. Down for a brief time, Spieth stopped briefly at the clubhouse on the way to the first tee for ibuprofen and doesn't expect any effects to linger.