Bell South Classic
Bell South Classic
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Event Features
Monty blitzes back nine to make cut
Faldo breaks 70 at last
Love looking for year's first victory
Norman withdraws from Bell South
Duval heads field in quest of his fourth victory of year

David Duval would like to make the BellSouth Classic his fourth victory of the season, but not at the expense of what lies a week ahead.

Next up is the Masters, and Duval readily acknowledges it will be on his mind.

"I am not going to sit here and lie to you about it," Duval said Wednesday. "It is an important event to me.

"I have to weigh it out and make sure I don't expend too much energy here and make sure I am ready for next week as well," he said. "It will be a bit of a balancing act."

Duval heads a strong field in the $2.5 million BellSouth beginning Thursday on the hilly, 7,259-yard TPC at Sugarloaf course designed by Greg Norman, who withdrew from the tournament Wednesday because of a virus.

Duval's third victory came in his hometown last week when he captured The Players Championship at Sawgrass by two shots over Scott Gump. Duval, who has earned $2.1 million in seven events this year, also won the season-opening Mercedes Championship in Hawaii and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in California.

Duval said making sure he's ready for the Masters involves being ready mentally and physically.

"Last week's event, it was so hard," he said. ``The golf course was so difficult. It was so taxing mentally. It would be like playing two or three events."

He said he has to make sure he's fresh for this tournament and for next week, too ... "making sure you are anxious to go out there every day, don't get to the point where you dread it."

Duval's competition is strong, including Davis Love III, who is sixth on the money list, and John Huston, eighth in earnings this season.

Love has had six Top Ten finishes in eight events, including ties for second in the Sony Open and the Nissan Open and a third at Bay Hill. Huston has finished third in two events.

With the Masters only a week away, there also is a strong contingent of foreign players in the field -- Sweden's Gabriel Hjertstedt, who won at Tucson this year, former Masters champions Nick Faldo of England, Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, Ian Woosnam of Wales, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and Jesper Parnevik of Sweden.

Defending champion Tiger Woods isn't in the field.

Scott McCarron, who won the first event at Sugarloaf two years ago when the event moved from the Atlanta Country Club, is in the field, along with Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Mickelson.

The field got its last look at the course before the first round during Wednesday's Pro-Am, played in raw, rainy weather. The forecast calls for clearing by Thursday midday and the temperature is expected to reach the low 80s by Friday.