GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Davis Love III has been so close to winning on the PGA Tour the last two years that pressing for a victory has become part of his problem.
''There are always one swing or one putt that I'm not 100 percent thinking about,'' Love said prior to teeing off in today's first round of the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic. ''I am thinking maybe if I made a birdie, I will be in good shape. Thinking about winning is maybe popping into my head a little too much.''
Love figured his career would take off after winning the 1997 PGA Championship, shedding the title of the best golfer who hadn't won a major.
But Love has won just once (MCI Classic in 1998) since that major title and is in the midst of a 24-month stretch without a victory -- his worst drought since 1988-89.
''I am the most experienced mid-30s guy out here, and guys seem to win a lot in their mid-30s, and around 40 seems like when guys hit their prime in the majors,'' said Love, second to Tiger Woods on the career money list with $13.7 million. ''Hopefully, I'm hitting my prime. But I just happen to be hitting it when there are a couple of young guys hitting it early.''
During his recent slump, Love has seen younger players like Woods, David Duval, Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson pass him by.
''I don't like the fact that Tiger has won more tournaments than me and I've been out here this long,'' Love said of his 13 wins in 14 years on tour. ''Phil Mickelson has won more tournaments than me. I want to get some wins, and each week is very, very important.''
''The mind game is the biggest part of things out here,'' Tom Lehman said. ''If he would just let himself be Davis Love, he would win more. A lot of it has to do with expectations -- from the fans, from the media. Most of the time you can handle the expectations you place on yourself. Davis will be fine.''
Love said he planned to call sports psychologist Bob Rotella this week to try to get back on track.
''I know what he's going to say, but it's good to hear him say it,'' Love said. ''It's like going in with a runny nose. The doctor will say, 'Well you've got a cold.' I am thinking way too much.''
Love is also 0-4 against the game's No. 1 player in recent head-to-head competition, and he lost to Woods in a playoff at Las Vegas in 1996 that gave Woods his first tour victory.
''He gave Tiger his first event with a very unlike Davis Love shot by missing the green with a 9-iron,'' Frank Nobilo said. ''Since then, everybody is putting the monkey back on Davis. I think it has affected a lot of players who think they've been demoted for no reason.''
Some players on the tour criticized Love last month when he said Woods was nearly impossible to beat. Others were surprised the talented Love would make what they viewed as defeatist comments.
''I just kept saying, 'Show me who has put four good rounds up against him,''' Love said. ''Hal Sutton. Darren Clarke played a nice stretch to beat him. But not many guys have put four good rounds up against him.''
Woods last beat Love a month ago at the Bay Hill Invitational, shooting a final-round 70 while Love shot a 72 and lost by four shots. Woods is not playing in this week's event at Forest Oaks Country Club.
''Do you think those (NASCAR) teams last year were going, 'OK, whatever Jeff Gordon is doing, we won't worry about that. What is the guy that's 15th doing?''' Love said. ''No, it's what do you have to do to beat the No. 1 guy.''
For Love, he believes it's saying patient.
''It's possible to dominate for bursts, but not for extended periods -- there is too much attention, too much pressure,'' Love said. ''But Tiger has done the best job in a long time of sustaining it.''
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