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Love finds positives in La Costa defeat

Written by: Staff

CARLSBAD, California, Feb 27 (Reuters) A losing finalist for the second time in three years at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Davis Love III was determined to focus on the bright side of his week at La Costa Resort and Spa.

''I'm real close right now,'' the 41-year-old told reporters after going down 3&2 to Australia's Geoff Ogilvy in yesterday's 36-hole final.

''I'm driving it great, good enough to win any week. I'm excited about going to Florida and I'm looking forward to the big tournaments there.

''If I can drive it like that at places like Doral and Honda (Classic) and the Players (Championship) and the (U.S.) Masters, I'll do real well.'' The PGA Tour moves to Florida for the next four weeks with the first nine events of the season, the so-called West Coast Swing, completed.

Love, who has not won since the 2003 International, knows he wasted a good opportunity at La Costa to secure the 19th title of his PGA Tour career.

''I did everything good today except for five or six iron shots, really,'' he said. ''Give me the iron shots back and I hit them on the green, it would have been a different story.

''I hit an awful lot of good ones this week but today I didn't hit as many.

''But he kept the pressure on me,'' added Love, who lost 3&2 to Tiger Woods in the 2004 final at La Costa. ''He didn't give me any holes to give me any confidence and make it easy for me. I had to work for it.

STRONG PLAYER ''He's a strong player and hits it a long way. It just shows you how many good players are out here that he doesn't win all the time.

''He's got great hands and putts very well. I don't think he missed a whole lot of putts he really needed to make.'' Love, who trailed Ogilvy by one after the morning round and by three after 22 holes, reduced the deficit to one midway through the afternoon round.

Although the 1997 U.S. PGA champion kept his fading hopes alive by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-four 33rd, by then the damage was done.

''I always felt like I took the pressure off of him when he hit a bad shot or when he hit a good shot,'' Love said.

''I let him get away from me with three-up a couple of times.

You can't do that. Even in a 36-hole match, you let him get ahead of you by that much, and he's going to get you.

''I wanted to make a good run today, I just didn't hit enough good iron shots when I had to and Geoff did.'' Reuters SK VP0640

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