Davis Love III’s professional life has been a study in consistency, even by PGA Tour standards, with 21 victories, a major championship and a .500 record as a U.S. Ryder Cup captain. But television was different.
Although he’d dabbled in announcing before this year, the Tour’s 2020 West Coast swing was Love’s first full-time foray into on-course analyst for CBS. In a phone interview with GolfChannel.com on Thursday, the 56-year-old admitted he knew immediately that things weren’t right.
“Go back to the four West Coast events and I got off to a rough start and it just wasn’t working for me,” Love said. “I found the mechanics hard and being entertaining was hard. It’s kind of like you’re hitting it bad and you start getting worse and worse and worse. I was surprised how nervous I was.”
Like most professional players, Love can be his own worst critic and his unease with a microphone only grew when the Tour arrived in Florida. When the golf world stopped spinning at The Players because of COVID-19 it only complicated Love’s transition from playing to announcing.
On March 27, Love’s home in St. Simons Island, Georgia, burned down, sending he and his wife, Robin, into a vagabond existence. By the time the Tour restarted its schedule in early June, Love was thrust into a new role as a tower analyst.
“I found out that it was a lot harder than I thought,” Love said. “We kind of had a perfect storm with [CBS lead producer Lance Barrow] leaving and my situation at home with the fire and coronavirus. Nothing was normal and I’m trying to learn a business when nothing is normal.”
On Tuesday, Love announced that he was stepping down from announcing, to spend time with his family and focus on competing. He said it was a mutual decision and one, at least in his mind, that was best for the CBS team.
“The door is not closed,” he said. “I enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed being on the team. [Fellow CBS analyst Dottie Pepper] put so much time and effort into helping me. I just struggled at it, frankly.”
Love was scheduled to work the first two rounds as an analyst next week at the PGA Championship but instead he said he’s looking forward to focusing on playing. He plans to play the PGA, followed by the Wyndham Championship and a few PGA Tour Champions events, despite the unfounded notion that he’s “retiring.”
“Someone said something to me about enjoying retirement, I’m like, I’m getting [ready] to go on the road for four weeks in a row. I don’t see it as retirement,” Love said with a laugh.
For Love it feels more like a new chapter and a chance to do what he’s always done best – compete.