Those young whippersnappers who set up courses today just dont understand people want to see birdies, not bogeys, he groused. Nobody ever gets a chance to shoot 20-under anymore and have some real fun like we used to. The next thing you know, theyll start growing knee-deep rough at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
I dont want to sound like the guy whos 44 and not playing good, Love said at the Memorial. But its really hard.
So is the U.S. Open, something Love should know a lot about after playing in the last 19 of them and breaking par only once. He might have been tempted to skip this one at his age and get in some practice for next weeks Travelers Championship, a place where birdies are still in abundance.
He didnt, even though he had to walk 36 holes and shoot an awfully good score while doing so just to get here. He didnt, even though he was thrown into a threesome almost as an afterthought in a spot usually reserved for an amateur player.
Maybe theres something liberating about coming to Torrey Pines with no baggage after long being known as best player to win just one major. Maybe Love gained a little incentive after missing the Masters and losing his streak of playing in 70 straight majors.
Maybe, just maybe, after being written off by almost everyone, hes still got a little game left.
I think physically I can play the game, Love said after inching toward the midway lead with a 2-under 69 that left him two shots back. And I think if I get on a roll, get my confidence going, I can have a few more really, really good years, and possibly great.
Loves golf shrink would likely advise him not to get that far ahead. The mind guys like to remind players to stay in the moment and dont think about consequences.
But while theres still plenty of time left for his annual June swoon, Love seems to believe hes still got something in the tank at an age where players start looking back at their careers, not ahead.
As if to prove it, he hasnt complained about the difficulty of Torrey Pines. Yet.
I love the challenge of the way the USGAs got it set up, Love said. Its obviously'I dont know the right way to put it'its more fun to play than the last two years. There are some opportunities out there. If you hit good shots, you know youre going to get rewarded, and if you hit bad shots, you know that its not the end of the world.
Thats a lesson that seems to have taken a long time to sink in for Love, whose talent is about the only thing that hasnt been questioned in a career now in its 23rd year. Hes won 19 times during that span, including the 1997 PGA Championship, but the consensus among most in golf is that he should have done much more.
Surprisingly enough, Love agreed in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
I know I should have and could have won more, he said. Everybody wants more for you. I want it more than anyone wants it for me.
Love hasnt made things any easier for himself along the way. Hes taken it upon himself to police the integrity of the game, which has led to confrontations with photographers and fans who might make noise at the wrong moment, and he once threatened to quit in the final of the Match Play Championship against Tiger Woods if a man who yelled No Love wasnt removed from the course.
He walked out of an interview at the PGA Championship two years ago when asked about what Greg Norman said about drug testing, saying he wouldnt respond to anything Norman said.
And if he would have seen Phil Mickelson wearing a shirt without a collar in the first round of the Open, he would have been horrified.
Love, though, has had bigger things to worry about recently than protecting the game. He tore up his left ankle when he stepped in a hole during a friendly game last September, had to spend months rehabbing it and failed to qualify for the Masters for the first time since 1990.
After having to qualify for this Open, he seems to understand hes running out of chances for future majors.
I got 36 holes this weekend that could help me get in a lot of majors, he said. And then if not, I go to Detroit. Go 36 again for the (British) Open. So its nice that its out there for me, and I think as long as I stay positive and keep playing hard, that good things will happen.
As long as he doesnt think about how hard the course is, they just might.