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Davis Love blessed by enforced layoff

After arguably the best start of his PGA Tour career, Davis Love's season was stalled by an injury that he now sees as something of a blessing.

Love spent nearly two months fishing and hunting, working on his golf course design, chauffeuring his son back and forth to camp and Little League games and spending three weekends with his daughter at horse shows.

It wasn't by design, just the result of a lingering neck problem and bulging disc that caused his fingers to tingle when he hit the ball.

Love basically put his clubs away after he tied for seventh in the Worldcom Classic the week after the Masters in April.

He tried to play the Compaq Classic but withdrew from a practice round and did not rejoin the tour until the U.S. Open two weeks ago.

"It was hard to kind of get stalled on the start of a good year," said Love on the eve of the Greater Hartford Open here.

Love's hot start included four top-10 finishes in his first six events with a victory in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and a playoff loss to Phil Mickelson at the Buick Invitational.

"But at the same time, I got to spend a lot of time at home with my kids and do some things that I hadn't been able to do in a long time," he said.

"It was a good break, and because of this injury, I've also got my lower back better. Things happen for a reason, and I think I may have pushed myself so hard for a couple years trying to win that as I won, I got hurt at the same time," he explained.

"This was the kind of injury that wasn't really severe, just one where you needed to take time off.

"It's almost a good thing because now I feel I'm in the middle of the year and rested rather than worn out, so maybe it's all for the best," said Love.

"I'm excited to be back playing and feeling good," added Love, seventh on the Tour money list ($1,702,305) despite the limited play.

"As far as hitting the ball, I feel like I can pretty much hit any shot. As far as my stamina, I'm probably not at 100 percent, and that showed at the U.S. Open.

"Every day I would start off well and not finish good, so stamina-wise, I'm probably 80-85 percent. I'm better than I was at the Open, but it'll probably be a couple of weeks before I'm 100 percent," said Love, who finished tied for seventh at Southern Hills two weeks ago.

Striving to qualify for his fifth consecutive Ryder Cup team, Love has been progressing to where he can hit 100 balls on the range, which is about three times what he could do at the Open, where he felt he had to save his swings for the tournament.

Love was pleased with his progress after a Wednesday practice session.

"That was a good test. I played nine holes and hit a 100 balls and came out OK. I'm pretty excited about it, considering where I was six weeks ago, kind of up in the air not knowing what was going to happen.

"I'm getting progressively more aggressive with my practice swing and exercising each day," Love said. "I'm just trying to build up some stamina rather than push myself until I hurt myself."

Not only is Love pleased with his game but he is thrilled with the state of golf in general.

"It's really incredible. We have the best athlete in the world playing our sport and some of the best, young, most recognisable players in sports in our game. It's really exciting," he said.

"And our TV numbers are really incredible. You can say it's all because of Tiger, but Tiger has to have somebody to play against, and it's exciting when he plays against Sergio (Garcia) and the David Duvals.

"I think we're at a point now where more fans can name golfers than at any other time," he said.

"We're getting more ink and publicity than we've ever had. Obviously, I'd rather be in golf's shoes than the NBA or some other sports."

 


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