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A Foreign Affair
Tim Crothers
March 13, 1995
Top players from around the world gathered in Miami, giving Doral the year's best field
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March 13, 1995

A Foreign Affair

Top players from around the world gathered in Miami, giving Doral the year's best field

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The Masters has always been special for Love, and not simply because he was born the day after the 1964 tournament. His father, Davis Love Jr., later a highly regarded teaching pro, had shot a first-round 69 that year, which tied him for the lead with four others, including the eventual winner, Arnold Palmer. But Love Jr. followed with rounds of 75-74-76, to finish 34th. Davis believes his father faded because he had other matters on his mind, namely the impending birth of his first child. "I heard the same story every year, about my mom doing everything she could to postpone my arrival," Davis says. "My dad always kidded me that he would have won the Masters if it wasn't for me."

As his son's teacher and mentor, Love Jr. passed along the family dream of winning a Masters title. That dream took on even greater significance for Davis III after his father died in a plane crash in 1990.

To help him fulfill that dream, Davis has turned to another family member, his younger brother, Mark, 28, who is working as his caddie this season. This is Mark's second stint as a looper—he was also on his brother's bag in '92 when Davis won three tournaments, including The Players Championship. Mark had been a golf-equipment representative until Davis all but begged him to come back this winter. "I wouldn't have done this for anybody but my brother, but I believed in my heart that I could help him win," Mark says. "I can tell him things that nobody else can."

A scratch golfer and former assistant pro at Sea Island, Ga., Mark is sage when it comes to yardage and reading greens. "Mark's a good caddie: He keeps his mouth shut," Davis jokes. "For some reason I have more confidence and faith in what he says. It's like having my dad out there watching me. He gets to the simple stuff like my dad always did."

In Miami, Love's fellow players seemed aware of his Masters quest. "A lot of guys like Davis and want him to make it to Augusta, but sentiment will make you a poor man on the PGA Tour," said Peter Jacobsen, who has won twice this year and will be making his first trip to Augusta in four years. Jacobsen celebrated his 41st birthday on Saturday by shooting a 64 for a share of the third-round lead. He ended up tying Norman for second, at 14 under.

"Sure, I know Davis needs a win to get there," said Norman. "There's a tremendous amount of pressure knowing that you must win, and it builds up with each week that you don't do it. I've been there. Believe me, I feel for him."

Nobody knows suffering like Greg Norman. Once again at Doral, he coughed up a chance at victory on the final hole. This time he splashed his six-iron approach shot into the lake at 18 and made bogey to lose by a shot to Faldo. Where have we seen this before? How about the '93 Tour Championship at Olympic, when Norman flew an eight-iron over the 18th green, bogeyed and lost by a stroke to Jim Gallagher Jr. Or the '89 British Open at Royal Troon, where Norman misclubbed on the tee and hit a driver into a fairway bunker on the fourth and final playoff hole, giving Mark Calcavecchia a gift-wrapped major. Or how about the infamous four-iron on the final hole at the '86 Masters that Norman blocked into the gallery, handing the green jacket over to Nicklaus.

But at least Norman will have another shot at a green jacket come April. Love may not. He felt so good about his chances of winning at Doral after Friday's round that he decided to skip the Honda Classic. Now he finds himself with only three more opportunities to win before the Masters. "I know I'm pressing a little lately," Love says. "But I feel that no goal can put more pressure on me than I already do."

He recalled trying to watch the 1988 PGA Championship on television after failing to qualify. He watched a few holes, then turned the TV off in disgust. "I don't like being left out of anything," Love says.

In a way that statement seemed to sum up the players' attitudes to the Tour in Florida, where fields should be strong throughout March. "This is a tough draw, but we're expecting that every week down here," said Lanny Wadkins.

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