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June 10 2012

12:35 AM

Round 3 wrap-up: A lot to Love

Love for the game

Davis Love III, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner, shoots for his first win since 2008 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM There is no question Davis Love III has the Ryder Cup on his mind. But the U.S. captain isn't only thinking about riding around in a golf cart and rooting on the team. No, Love has definitely entertained the idea of playing in the event -- something that may not be that far-fetched considering his recent play. The U.S. captain is in line for his best finish on the PGA TOUR this season after carding a 2-under 68 in the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Saturday to take a share of the 54-hole lead at 6 under in Memphis, Tenn. "I might just pick myself today and get it over with," Love, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner, told CBS after his round. "No, I’m excited about the way I’m playing. I am trying to make the team. Trying to work my way back up." Love, ranked 63rd in Ryder Cup points, would be the first captain to play in the Ryder Cup since Arnold Palmer in 1963. He was tied with John Merrick (69) and Nick O'Hern (67), both of whom he is grouped with for a 8:54 a.m. local tee time. Golfers are teeing off earlier because of the threat of inclement weather in the afternoon. CBS will broadcast the event from 3 to 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Second-round leader Rory McIlroy carded a 2-over 72, struggling to keep his momentum in windy conditions while still ironing out the kinks of some swing changes that he's been working on. But McIlroy was within striking distance, making a birdie on the 18th hole to put himself one shot back with Dustin Johnson (67), Robert Allenby (67), Kevin Kisner (70), Chad Campbell (70) and Kevin Stadler (71). "It was a day where for me I took one step forward and two steps back," McIlroy said. "Every time I made a birdie, I followed it up with a bogey, felt like. It was testing out there, tough conditions and the wind was sort of swirling all over the place and made things tricky. I'm so happy to get back a birdie at the last and one off the lead going into tomorrow." The leaderboard was so crowded that 20 golfers were within four shots of the leaders. Merrick, the first-round leader, and O'Hern are both looking for their first PGA TOUR win. They are also looking to place in the top 25 for the first time this season. They'll be attempting to hold off players such as Johnson, McIlroy and J.B. Holmes (72) -- who was only two shots back and is more than capable of going low at TPC Southwind. The big-hitting Holmes carded a 6-under 29 on the front nine on Friday. For Love, 48, a victory this week would mean a lot. For starters, he hasn't won since 2008. It would also be an incredible accomplishment during an up-and-down season. After a decent start in 2012, Love suffered a torn rib muscle at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard and was forced to withdraw. He didn't return until THE PLAYERS Championship and likely wasn't at full strength until last week, when he tied for 16th at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. Then Love earned a spot in next week's U.S. Open -- which will be his 23rd appearance in the event -- by going through 36 holes of sectional qualifying on Monday. It sounds like a busy schedule. But as Love said, it beats sitting home on the couch with an injury and not being able to play at all. "(It would) be a lot of Ryder Cup points and get me back going, you know," Love said of a potential victory on Sunday. "Like I said, I started off the year ready to go and excited about the way I was playing and got knocked back a couple times with injuries. And the work has paid off, and I'm still hitting it far enough. I putted really well at Memorial and then the qualifier, so ... I know that I can, you know, I can still do it."
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