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Davis Love III looking to return to winning ways

Davis Love III plans to stay patient and relaxed, hoping that attitude helps him enjoy this week.

In other words, everything he missed out on last year.

Playing on a course he redesigned several months earlier, Love failed to make the cut in the 2003 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. His two-day total of 144 was 15 strokes behind eventual winner Shigeki Maruyama and one shot short of a weekend tee time.

``Last year, there was a lot going on,'' Love said Wednesday. ``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.''

He has little to worry about now off the course. His work on the 1962 Ellis Maples course drew rave reviews from the members at Forest Oaks Country Club, and many of his peers chimed in, as well.

All 18 greens were rebuilt and several tee boxes were moved -- although not much length was added -- to help the layout return to its original feel. Fuzzy Zoeller redid the greens in the early 1990s, and the changes were largely criticized.

``The old redone greens had a little bit of a clover-shaped, target-oriented green, so it was kind of like new style greens on an old style golf course,'' Jim Furyk said. ``And what Davis has done here, there are some difficult greens out there. But it looks a little bit more natural now, I think.''

Love admitted his work on the course was mostly for the members, and he realizes all the professionals won't like what he did.

``It's like 150 guys all go to an art gallery, we're going to like different things,'' he said. ``I've had guys come up teasingly and say every hole has a false front. Well, yeah, the uphill holes all have a false front, but the downhill holes don't.''

With the debut of his efforts out of the way, Love wants to get back to winning tournaments. He had four victories last year -- including The Players Championship -- and finished third on the money list with more than $6 million.

He's earned less than half that amount in 2004, and more importantly, he hasn't won since last August at The International. He has eight top 10s in 21 tournaments.

``Solid year, but not great,'' Love said. ``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.''

Being a part of another losing team in the Ryder Cup didn't help much, either. Europe won 18 1/2-9 1/2 last month, its fourth victory in five tries.

``I know that it takes a lot of the excitement out of playing when you get beat and you put so much into it,'' Love said. ``And it takes, obviously, your confidence away to get beat soundly like that. It kind of deflates you a little bit.''

Maruyama has plenty of confidence coming into this week. He beat Brad Faxon by five shots last year for his third career victory, and he's trying to become the first player to repeat since Sam Snead in 1955-56.

Snead also won back-to-back in 1949-50, and he became the oldest PGA Tour winner in the 1965 event at the age of 52.

``Of course, I want to do that,'' Maruyama said. ``I'm going to be really happy if my name is going to be next to Sam Snead's name. I'm always happy when my name is on the board somewhere on the golf course.''

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