Love keeps his cool for share of lead at Chrysler

Updated: October 7, 2006, 11:02 PM ET
Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- He redesigned the course, but Davis Love III had little success at Forest Oaks Country Club, missing the cut twice and withdrawing once since he made the changes three years ago.

T-1. Love III (-10)
T-1. Couch (-10)
T-3. Flesch (-9)
T-3. Senden (-9)
T-3. Smith (-9)
• Complete scores

Love changed his luck Saturday, shooting a 4-under 68 in rainy, cool conditions to gain a share of the lead after the third round of the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.

"When you hit that golf ball it doesn't know who designed the course or how much information you have," said Love, who was born in Charlotte and attended North Carolina. "It should make it more fun to play, which it does. I love looking at the greens and looking at what we did and what we changed, but I don't think it's any advantage."

Chris Couch, who won his first PGA Tour title in New Orleans in April, had a 69 to match Love at 10-under 206. Chris Smith (69), Steve Flesch (69) and John Senden (71) were a stroke back.

Love, who was in charge of changing and lengthening the layout in 2003 to 7,333 yards, didn't anticipate the rainy, windy conditions would make the course play so long. Golfers routinely needed to hit woods on their second shots into par 4s.

"We anticipate the average guy hitting woods into the greens, but not the tour players," Love said. "These are extreme conditions. When I'm hitting a 5-wood into a par 4 after I hit a wedge there in the pro-am, you can't really design around that kind of stuff."

Love, left off the U.S. Ryder Cup team, birdied the first two holes and the 18th Saturday to put himself into contention for his first PGA Tour win since 2003.

"I give myself a lot of chances, just unfortunately I haven't pulled it off enough in the past few years," Love said.

He'll be paired in the final group Sunday with Couch, who at 33 broke through with his first win at the Zurich Classic.

"The wind was pumping out there in the afternoon with an annoying drizzle," Couch said. "Hitting every fairway today helped and I made a lot of 4- or 5-footers."

The temperature was in the 80s during the first round Thursday, when 68 players broke 70. But on Friday, the rain and wind moved in, the temperature never got out of the 50s and only 15 players broke 70.

The poor weather continued Saturday, with off-and-on showers, gusty wind and a raw 54 degrees most of the day, keeping a good chunk of the crowd away. The average score was 71.95 and only 11 players broke 70.

Senden, an Australian, was about the only player who seemed oblivious to the weather. He wore a short-sleeved shirt while almost everyone else wore a jacket.

"I've been out here long enough to pack right. I'm one of the few guys that didn't have to go out and buy something," Love said. "I know everybody's been in the mall."

Anticipating the poor conditions, PGA Tour officials moved up the tees on several holes, including 16 and 18, but the course still played long. Lucas Glover, who shot a 66 to top a group at 8 under, used a 5-iron for his second shot into 18 where he had used a sand wedge in the past.

Love used a 5-wood for his second shot on the par-4 14th, but his ball-striking helped give him a chance to break into the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the year-end Tour Championship.

The greens, with two days of rain, slowed down. Smith made a 45-foot birdie putt on the 11th to move to 11-under. He bogeyed the 12th and 17th.

Second-round leader Nick Watney faded early. A three-putt for double bogey on the sixth hole quickly dropped him three shots off the lead. He finished with a 74 for a 7-under total.

Daniel Chopra, who just made the cut and was in the first twosome to tee off at 8 a.m. Saturday, shot a 66 and was at 8 under. For a while Chopra was tied for the lead as he played in front of a sparse early morning crowd.

"I take great pride in my good rounds when the conditions are tough," Chopra said. "Days like today, it really takes quality shots all the time."

Glover completed his round of 66 a short time later and also moved to 8 under, joined by Brett Quigley (68), Joe Durant (70), Jason Bohn (70), Ryan Moore (71) and Eric Axley (71).

Tim Clark, the only player in the top 20 of the world rankings in the tournament, was 7 under after a 69.

Chopra was the first player to try to find gloves Saturday. "I went into the pro shop and I asked him if they sell gloves -- mittens. They went into storage and got them," Chopra said. ... Smith got a spot in the field through a sponsor exemption. ... There have been 15 playoffs in the 67-year history of the tournament, the last in 1998 when Trevor Dodds beat Scott Verplank.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press