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How will Love be remembered?

3/2/2006 - Golf Davis Love III

MIAMI -- If Davis Love's career ended today, would it be remembered for all his triumphs or for the fact that there should have been more?

It is an interesting question to ponder as Love is coming off another chance to break a two-year-plus victory drought and enters the Ford Championship at Doral feeling better about his game than he has in some time.

When Love got to the finals of the Match Play Championship against unheralded Australian Geoff Ogilvy, he figured to emerge from a winless streak that dates to the International in 2003, a year in which he won four times.

The fact that Love lost to Ogilvy only heightened the awareness of what could have been.

A winner of 18 PGA Tour titles, including his lone major at the 1997 PGA Championship, Love, quite frankly, figured to have won more tournaments at this stage of his career.

His 18 victories trails Phil Mickelson by 10, and he had a five-year head start on Lefty. Love also got to play nearly 10 years of his career without Tiger Woods around to steal titles. His runner-up finish Sunday was the 29th of his career, and he had slipped to No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking before the week.

None of this would matter if it were believed that Love had accomplished all he could.

But the length he possessed in his youth -- and he still hits it plenty long -- combined with many other skills, seemed to indicate a more productive career. Love has been a U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team lock for more than a decade, which suggests he often has been in the mix without finishing.

Sure, Love has won The Players Championship twice as well as that PGA victory and has failed to make the Tour Championship just once in 16 years. But he never has won a World Golf Championship event and has gone six of the last eight years without a victory.

Nagging shoulder and neck injuries have hindered Love for the past several years, although he only offers it as a reason -- not an excuse -- when asked. And he has managed to contend several times, including at last year's PGA Championship, where he played in the final group with Mickelson, who won.

Love, who turns 42 in April, seems much more youthful than his age suggests. Players are winning well into their 40s now, so there is time to change perceptions and secure his place in history.

"I'm feeling excited about the way my game is going," Love said. "I'm feeling stronger, hitting it better and my golf swing is right on track. I'm doing the things that I have to do to play better, and I'm excited about the year.


Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.