Remembering Davis Love III’s Victory Under the Rainbow
With rain falling Saturday during the third round of the PGA Championship, it seemed like a natural time to look back and reminisce about one of the greatest moments in the history of this historic championship.
Davis Love III shot a final-round 66 to win the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club to capture his first major championship. He topped Justin Leonard by five shots.
Margin of victory aside, there were so many memorable moments from that Sunday in New York. The last few holes were played in a steady rain, but by the time Love walked to the 18th green, the sun appeared and a rainbow was in clear view off in the distance.
Love, then 33, had been so close to winning majors several times in his career and when he made the final putt from 10 feet he hugged Leonard, then hugged his family and the emotions came pouring out.
There was the obvious relief of winning his first major. But with the rainbow in full glow, Love couldn’t stop thinking about his father, Davis Jr., who died in a plane crash nine years earlier. Davis Love Jr. was a longtime, highly respected PGA Professional who taught his son the game and made him decide he wanted to be a touring professional.
“It was hard to get through those last three holes without breaking down,” Love said while fighting tears. “It's been a rough trip getting to this point.”
Love’s performance that week was one of the most dominant in the history of the PGA Championship. He opened with 66 and shot 66 in the third and fourth rounds. After Leonard, Jeff Maggert was third, seven shots back. Lee Janzen finished fourth, 10 shots behind Love.