Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LOCALS WATCH; Birdie Binge Vaults Love into 2nd

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LOCALS WATCH; Birdie Binge Vaults Love into 2nd

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Thomas, Times-Union sports writer

Davis Love III turned the page on an indifferent performance at the end of Thursday's suspended round, rattling off nine birdies over 23 holes yesterday -- including five in a row after a potentially haunting double-bogey -- to climb into a share of second place at The Players Championship.

Rejuvenated by a good night's rest, the St. Simons Island, Ga., resident and 1992 champion is positioned for his first run at the title since tying for sixth in 1994 and 1995.

"I felt like I came out ready to putt with a little more aggressive attitude," said Love, who was even par after 13 holes on Thursday and praying for a stoppage. "I kept seeing the dark clouds coming and you're thinking maybe we'll stop and the wind will stop blowing and we'll come back in the morning when it's nice and calm. I think that's what we got."

Finishing his opening-round 2-under 70 with birdies at Nos. 16 and 18, Love moved to 4 under for the tournament with birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to start his second round. But the calm conditions turned turbulent for the normally placid Love with a double-bogey at No. 18.

An errant 6-iron to the green from a perfect lie in the middle of the fairway left Love buried in the right rough.

"It was straight down in [the rough]," Love said. "It looked like a nest."

Love buried his wedge in disgust after managing to advance the ball only 13 feet to the fringe, which left him with a 51-footer to save par. Still simmering, he blew the putt 7 feet past the cup, then two-putted for double-bogey.

"You know, I just got mad enough to get back to concentrating," Love said, admitting that the long walk to the No. 1 tee provided him with enough time to put the double-bogey behind him. A par-saving 5-footer at No. 1 was all it took to get Love in the groove.

Defending champion and playing partner Craig Perks marveled at Love's recovery.

"What distinguishes the average player from the true champions is what Davis did on 18 . . . and then he made five birdies in a row," Perks said.

Laser-like iron play set Love's rally in motion, beginning with a wedge from 89 yards to 5 feet at No. …

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