Putting trouble hits hard for Love

Saturday, April 07, 2007
By Garry Smits
Morris News Service

Davis Love III had just birdied the par-5 eighth hole at Augusta National Golf Club to get within three shots of the lead.

Davis Love III lines up a putt on the third green. He shot 77 on Friday, his worst round at the Masters since 1998.

(Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff)

Then his putting stroke deserted him.

"He couldn't get any momentum going with the putter," said playing partner Ben Crenshaw. "When that happens, you start playing this course defensively, in the condition it's in."

The result was a 77 for Love on Friday in the second round of the Masters Tournament - 4-over-par 40 on the second nine - dropping him from a tie for 10th after his opening 72 into a tie for 30th at 5-over-par 149. Love had recorded his best opening round at Augusta since 2002, but Friday was his worst score in the Masters since shooting 78 in the final round in 1998 and his worst second-round score since a 78 in 1994.

The only good news is that Love stayed safely within the cut line and will be playing on the weekend for the 14th time in 18 starts at the Masters.

"It was very, very tough out there," he said. "You've got to play very well just to have a chance to shoot 1- or 2-under-par, and I didn't play that well. When I wasn't making putts, things got worse. The greens are terrifying. Having a 20-footer for birdie is not a routine putt."

Love made the turn at 1-over for the day, then bogeyed No. 10. He steered himself around Amen Corner at even-par, but then three-putted for bogey at the par-5 15th, failed to get up-and-down from the front bunker at the par-3 16th, hooked his tee shot behind a tree at the par-4 17th, and had to chip out into the fairway and hit a wedge onto the green. From there, he missed a 12-foot par attempt.

He at least finished on a high note. Love smashed his drive deep and down the middle at No. 18, hit one of his better iron shots of the day to within 12 feet and two-putted.

Love hit only seven fairways and nine greens, not much different from the day before. However, he needed 32 putts, nine more than in the first round.

Love said the margin between good fortune and disaster is very thin. When asked whether the course was on the edge between being fair and unfair, he replied: "That's how they (the club) want it. It's the hardest I think I've played - or at least the hardest you can make a course and still get the guys to show up."