Looking for Some Love in Greensboro


There are a handful of 2004 PGA Tour winners in the field for this weeks Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
They have names like Byrd and Johnson and Parry and Pampling. But, like the controversial catcall at this years Match Play Championship, there is no Love.
Davis Love III, coming off his most productive season ever, is running out of time to add a 19th career tour title in his 19th year of tour service.
Love enters Greensboro winless ' no trophy to showcase on the mantle in his massive motor home.
He lost to Tiger Woods in the 36-hole final of the WGC-Match Play, and then finished runner-up in his next start in the Honda Classic, when Todd Hamilton pipped him with birdies over his final two holes. He has since collected four top-10s, but hasnt really contended for victory.
'Solid year, but not great,' Love said Wednesday. 'I'm kind of at a crossroads. I could make a lot of money and not really move up that much, so it's really just about trying to get a win. After this week, other than the Tour Championship, I'm sure how much I'm going to play.'
Since Bay Hill in March, Love has posted only two sub-70 scores in the first round. His first-round scoring average during this span of 14 stroke-play events is 72.86. His second-round scoring average during that time frame is almost three strokes lower, at 69.93.
Seven times this season, his second round score has been at least five strokes lower than his starting number.
I just haven't been putting four good rounds together,' he admitted earlier in the year. 'I've been having three maybe, sometimes two, but not four, and off to bad starts. Big numbers the first day and bad starts the first day have been holding me back.
There are only four tournaments, including this one, Disney, the Chrysler Championship and the Tour Championship, remaining on the 2004 tour calendar.
Love usually likes to play out the string, so he may well have four more chances to get at least one title to defend next year.
If he doesnt, the good news is that the last time he went winless in a season was 2002. He then won four times in 03, including The Players Championship.
This is his 12th appearance at Greensboro. He won here in 1992, but missed the cut last year, just months after completing his redesign on the 1962 Ellis Maples course.
'Last year, there was a lot going on,' Love said. 'The fans have always been very supportive and they want to see me do well. That's probably part of the reason why I haven't done that well up here.'
Love has one number on his side: 40. He reached the milestone birthday in April. Three of the last four champions have been at least 39 years of age. The only exception was last years winner, Shigeki Maruyama.
Maruyama, like Love, is in search of his first win of the season.
The diminutive Japanese standouts best chance at victory came in a runner-up finish at the Nissan Open. He also has five other top-10 finishes on the year.
Maruyama has won each of the last three seasons. He entered 2004 as one of only four players to have accomplished that feat. That list also included Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard.
Woods, of course, knocked off Love at the Accenture to keep alive his streak (which actually extends to nine years). However, Furyk and Leonard, like Maruyama, are winless. Furyk is here this week; Leonard is not.
This is the 65th playing of the tournament, and the 28th straight time Forest Oaks Country Club (par 72, 7,315 yards) is playing host.
Only one player has ever successfully defended his Greensboro title. Sam Snead won back-to-back in 1949-50 and 1955-56. He also won the inaugural event in 1938, as well as in 46, 60 and 65 (at the age of 52).
His eight Greensboro titles are more than any other player at any other event in tour history.
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