Playoff birdie by Couples wins L.A. Open over Love

LOS ANGELES — LOS ANGELES -- Fred Couples rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole yesterday to beat Davis Love III and win the Nissan Los Angeles Open for the second time in three years.

Much of the crowd of 52,200 at Riviera Country Club seemed to be pulling for Couples.


"I don't think anyone out there ever roots against somebody," Couples said. "I think the fans were for me, but I don't think they were against Davis at all.

"The last two or three years, I've done well here and I've gotten a good following."


Love, who just missed a 35-foot birdie try on the second playoff hole that would have kept the playoff going, said he didn't like some of the comments from the crowd.

"The noise didn't bother me. The only thing that did were the people who were verbally pulling against me," Love said. "It didn't make me play bad, but it is upsetting to have people come to a golf tournament and outwardly pull against somebody, especially in a playoff.

"There were at least five or six times that I heard people pulling against me when I'd miss a putt. It was like when somebody would miss a putt against Jack Nicklaus."

Couples' winning putt, coming after he hit a 6-iron on the par-3 hole within good birdie range, ended a six-hole stretch where he and Love matched stroke for stroke.

Tied since the 14th hole, they both parred down the stretch to finish regulation at 15-under-par 269. Couples had a closing 70, and Love shot a 69.