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Like a 19th-century socialite angling for inclusion in Mrs.
Astor's 400, Davis Love III last year desired an invitation to
the Masters. That was sufficient motivation for a win in New
Orleans, which led to Love's first two top-10 finishes in the
majors, at Augusta and Shinnecock Hills, and his most satisfying
season to date. This year Love has only his own will to prod him
to greatness, though Greg Norman unknowingly helped refine a few
goals for the year.

Following his come-from-behind win on Sunday at the Buick
Invitational, Love said, "I want to do something special. I've
won 10 times now, and if I win 12 or 15 or 18 times, I don't
think it's going to make much difference. But if I get the
Vardon Trophy, that would be something. I'd like to start
striving, like Greg, for those things that are really hard to
get: the scoring title, the money title, player of the year, so
that you really have to push yourself."

Ambition renewed, Love went to Pebble Beach the Saturday before
the tournament, the earliest he has ever arrived at an event.
One stroke off the lead when the AT&T was canceled, Love was
primed to win the Buick Invitational, which he did thanks to a
brilliant 64 in the final round.

"I was looking at that zero by my name on the money list and
thinking that it was time to get going," Love said. "I couldn't
help feeling that I was already behind Phil Mickelson and that
eventually, because I'm older, he was going to go right on by
me. But not today he won't."


Laura Davies wasn't trying to make a statement last weekend at
the Australian Skins Game, but her game said it all. The LPGA's
longest hitter went to the back tees with John Daly, Tom Watson
and Peter Senior, made three birdies on the 7,320-yard Pines
course at Sanctuary Cove, won two skins, regularly blew drives
past the tee shots of Watson and Senior and proved that she has
the goods to hold her own with men.

Then she said she didn't want any part of gender equity. "The
skins is just a fun thing, and there's no place for ladies on
the men's tour or men on the ladies' tour," said Davies, who
finished behind Daly ($78,000) and Watson ($21,000) but ahead of
Senior ($3,750), with $9,750. "They are two totally separate
tours, but every so often something different comes along, and
it's fun to do it. At the moment I'm enjoying playing on the
ladies' tour, which is where I belong."


When a country club fires its superintendent and then issues
press releases defending the condition of its greens, you can
bet they're in sorry shape. At least that's the rationale Tour
players are using to skip next week's Nissan Open at Riviera.
Long considered one of the premier stops of the season, the
tournament is getting hit with a double whammy this year: bad
greens and bad dates. The Nissan is the last event on the West
Coast portion of the Tour, and many players like to take a week
off before starting the Florida portion of the schedule at
Doral. The bad greens just make it that much easier to take a
Pasadena on L.A.

Trying to get more players to enter the tournament, the Tour had
its agronomist attend a recent meeting of the players and try to
persuade them that Riviera's greens weren't that bad.

It was a tough sell. Even Ben Crenshaw, whose company oversaw
the reconstruction of the greens in 1993, is not convinced. "All
I know is that they say the greens have improved," he says. "I'm
taking that with a grain of salt."


Ian Woosnam attributes his recent back-to-back victories in
Singapore and Australia, his first wins in 16 months, to a
change in routine. He gave up exercise and spent the winter with
his mates in pubs near his home on the island of Jersey in the
English Channel. "The formula for me is relaxation," Woosnam
says. "I became the best in the world doing it my way, but I
made the mistake of thinking I had to change to stay the best."
...CBS is talking to David Feherty about a tower job....Al
Geiberger, whose 63 last Saturday in the IntelliNet Challenge
helped end a three-year victory drought, missed most of 1994
with a rotator-cuff injury, limped through last year with a sore
heel that was corrected through surgery, and hadn't played in a
tournament in two months....A fourth, and final, Harvey Penick
book, The Game for a Lifetime, will be published in April....
Spyglass Hill will not be replaced on the Pebble Beach rotation,
as David Eger suggested it would last week.

COLOR PHOTO: J.D. CUBAN At the Buick, Love was determined not to lose any more ground to Mickelson. [Davis Love III]