Love Hopeful for a Great Season


2005 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicPhil Mickelson made his 2004 PGA Tour debut at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and promptly won.
Davis Love III would very much like to rewrite that scenario this year. But even more so, he would dearly love to re-enact the events of two seasons ago.
I started 2003 at the Hope and had a great year, he said. Maybe again.
Entering his 20th season on tour, Love finds himself in a familiar position. He is coming off a winless campaign; hes struggling to stay inside the top 10 in the world rankings; and hes fighting to keep his body in working order.
Sounds a lot like two years ago.
Winless in 2002 ' his body ailing and ranked ninth in the world, Love went on to win four times in 03, including the Players Championship.
That led to a lot of promise for 04 ' and eventually to a lot of disappointment.
Love earned a pair of runner-up finishes, eight top-10s and over $3 million ' but no wins. He ended the year mentally and physically drained, having literally played himself out.
I came out and had a couple chances to win and didn't do it ' I started trying too hard, pushing too hard, trying to get back to that (2003) level. It's hard to have back-to-back really good years like Tiger and Vijay have been doing, Love said at last month's Target World Challenge.
At the end of the year I was frustrated. I hadn't won. I kept pushing myself to play after the Ryder Cup, which I put a lot into getting ready to play in the Ryder Cup, and I was basically hurting after that and I should have taken a month off. But trying to win, trying to chase positions on the money list and getting kind of frustrated that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing, I pushed myself a little bit too far.
Ineligible for the Mercedes Championships, Love decided to extend his vacation time through to this weeks event. It gave him time to rest his ailing neck, time to work on his swing, and time to actually miss competing.
I think Ill be ready to play, he said. I dont do well with sitting around and doing nothing.
This will be Loves 11th trip to the Hope, where he has a pair of top-10 finishes and has never missed the cut, but its only his third appearance in the last 11 years.
Mickelson used to regularly skip this event as well ' until he won in 2002. He triumphed again last year, defeating Skip Kendall in a playoff. He rode the momentum of that victory to his first major triumph at the Masters. Augusta, however, was the site of his last official win.
He made his debut this season at last weeks Buick Invitational, where he tied for 56th.
Unlike at the Buick, Mickelson will not be surrounded by Woods, Singh and Ernie Els.
But he will be accompanied by a host of fellow Hope champions. Eighteen of the last 19 winners are in the field. The list includes 50somethings Jay Haas (1988 winner), Peter Jacobsen (1990) and Tom Kite (1993); Fred Couples (1998); David Duval, who shot 59 in winning in 1999; and Mike Weir (2003).
Scott Hoch, the 1994 winner, is the lone absentee from that group.
Per usual, play will start Wednesday in the 90-hole pro-am. The field of 128 will compete on the host Palmer course at PGA West, Bermuda Dunes, La Quinta and Tamarisk over the first four days, with those making the 72-hole cut playing on the Palmer course Sunday.
Tamarisk Country Club is replacing Indian Wells Country Club, one of the original tournament layouts, in the rotation this year. That leaves Bermuda Dunes as the only original course still being played. But even that may change next year.
Two new courses are expected to be introduced into the rotation in 2006. The Arnold Palmer-designed Classic Course at NorthStar is to be opened in November and is expected to serve as the host course next year.
SilverRock, also designed by Palmer and owned by the city of La Quinta, is scheduled to join the mix in '06.
Tournament officials aren't completely certain which four courses will fill out the rotation next year.
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