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Published: Monday, 9/20/2004

Marquee matchups: The course bit Love again; at least he was with a friend

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Davis Love III has not had much luck with the closing holes at Oakland Hills.

Bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18 cost Love the 1996 U.S. Open. He wound up finishing one shot behind Steve Jones.

Love experienced another meltdown of sorts yesterday in his Ryder Cup singles match against Europe's Darren Clarke.

Love three-putted for bogey at No. 18, and all Clarke had to do was tap in a five-footer to par to win the match. Clark missed, letting Love off the hook, and the two settled for a tie and a half-point each.

"Well, it's not what either one of us wanted," Love said.

"But as far as friends go and the Ryder Cup, I think it was a good ending. We're good friends and it's hard to have one lose."

Clarke and the Europeans went on to drub Love and the Americans 18 1/2-9 1/2 to win the Ryder Cup outright.

"Davis and I had another great game today," Clarke said.

"It's tough whenever you're playing against a real good friend. I'm smoking his cigars that he brought me up here this week.

"But we had a real good game. I think, overall, I'm disappointed with missing that putt at the last hole. But Davis missed one there as well, and I think a halve was a very fair result for both of us."

Love led 12 of the first 15 holes and had a 2-up lead with three holes to go. But Clarke birdied Nos. 16 and 17, where he chipped in from 20 feet from the rough behind the green, to square the match.

"Darren and I just said on the 18th tee that we couldn't believe we were in that situation; that we didn't think we would be playing on 18," Love said.

"But he hit a great chip there at 17."

Clarke's chip-in help set up the sloppy finish at the final hole.

Love two-putted for a bogey after getting an unlucky lie near a sprinkler head on his drive, while Clarke three-putted.

"I told him on 18, 'I should punch you in the nose for that chip-in and for missing that putt,'‚óŹ'' Love said.

"But it was an exciting match. He holed a lot of putts, you know, and he kept himself in it when he hit bad shots, and I didn't hole a lot.

"It was a fun day, though."

Love finished with a 1-3-1 record.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "I didn't play very well and I'm disappointed for Chad Campbell and Fred Funk and Tiger Woods that I didn't play better when I played with them.

"Stewart Cink's going around telling everybody how great I played with him [Saturday], but that really was the only day I played great."



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