Love pulls four shots
clear after 63
Davis Love III knew the
wind was dying when sweat dripped off his brow from the suffocating Texas heat.
A better indication was how he began making birdies to take control of the GTE
Byron Nelson Classic today.
While tamer conditions
gave late starters like Tiger Woods a break, Love made the most of it by shaking
off a bogey-bogey start with nine birdies on his last 16 holes at Cottonwood
He finished with a 7-under-par
63 for a 4-stroke lead over John Huston, the largest 36-hole advantage in tournament
Two nearly flawless rounds
put Love at 11-under 129 and gave him even more confidence that he can win for
the first time in more than two years.
"I need to keep doing what
I've been doing the last two days," Love said. "I've been feeling a long time
that if one or two things right happen, I can get going again. I want to start
moving back to the top. The only way to do that is to win. The only way to keep
up with Tiger is to win."
Woods was the least of
his worries -- so far.
Love will be paired Saturday
with Huston, who had a bogey-free 65 on the TPC at Las Colinas and was at 133.
The group at 135 included Jesper Parnevik (65) and 1996 PGA champion Mark Brooks
Woods, in his first tournament
since The Masters, flirted with missing only the second cut of his career until
he finally holed a couple of putts on the back nine of Cottonwood Valley for
a 67 that left him at even-par 140.
"I don't know if he's ever
far enough behind," Love said. "But I'm playing my game.
Woods didn't count himself
"I turned a 62 into a 67.
That takes talent," Woods said, managing a smile after a round in which he missed
six putts inside 12 feet. "I just have to post a low one tomorrow and see what
happens. I'm capable of that. I could have done that today."
That kind of score belonged
only to Love and Phil Mickelson, who also had a 63 to get to 136, a score that
looked pretty good until Love birdied four of the last five holes.
"One guy has separated
himself from the field," said Mickelson, a two-time winner on tour this year.
"There's a bunch of us that have a chance to make a run, or he had to come back.
I doubt that will happen, so I anticipate having to shoot a good round tomorrow."
Love has been runner-up
six times since his last victory in the 1998 MCI Classic, and has been in contention
eight times on Sunday. Most of the time, however, he has gotten to the final
round having to catch up and not finding a game that allowed him to do that.
It appeared he would dig
another similar hole today when he hit a 7-iron over the flag to the Texas-shaped
green on No. 1. Instead of trying to make the 35-footer from the fringe, he lagged
it some 6 feet short and missed the par putt.
Another bogey from the
bunker followed, but then Love warmed up with birdies on four of the next five
holes, none longer than 10 feet.
"Nine birdies is an awful
lot on any golf course," Love said. "I was very happy with the way I played,
the consistency that I had today."
Birdies were certainly
more available than on Thursday, when the gusts felt strong enough to blow tumbleweeds
to Chicago. Fifty-two players broke par, compared to just 17 players in the tougher
That Love struck the ball
well in both rounds was indication that his game could hold up well into the
"He's driving the ball
really as pretty as I've seen the ball driven," said Brandel Chamblee, who played
with Love the past two days. "The guy is in a zone."
Love took the past two
weeks off to unclutter his mind of a dry spell that spans 53 PGA Tour events
without winning. He also popped in a video of Ben Hogan and noticed how well
Hogan turned all the way through with his swing.
"I haven't watched anyone
else's swing in a long time" he said. "That was fun to watch Hogan swing and
try to see if I can get through the ball as good as he can."
Hogan used to win quite
a bit, too. That may turn out to be the greatest lesson.
DIVOTS: Ryder Cup
captain Ben Crenshaw made the cut for the first time in 24 tournaments. ... Fulton
Allem, who once wrote "You are too slow" on Bob Estes's scorecard, was paired
with Estes for the first two rounds. They chatted throughout the round today,
but perhaps it was because Allem had a 68. "If he's playing good, he's like anybody
else," Estes said. "If he's playing bad, you better look out. Fulton is a great
guy, he just, uh, has his moments. He's still difficult to play with, but he
thinks everyone else is difficult to play with." ... Stewart Cink hit a ball
in the water on the par-3 ninth and took a ride in an official's cart back to
the drop area. Why wasn't that a two-stroke penalty like the one assessed Fred
Couples last week in New Orleans? Because it was authorized by a rules official
-- Steve Rintoul in this case. Couples was given a lift by a marshal. ... Justin
Leonard rebounded from an 80 to shoot a 69. He still missed the cut by six shots.
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