After New Orleans, Love relaxes for 69-138 THE MASTERS


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Forget the back nine here at Augusta National on Sunday at the Masters. If you want real pressure, check out the back nine at English Turn in New Orleans last Sunday.

Just ask Davis Love III.

Love needed to win there to get here, and did. His victory over Mike Heinen, on the second hole of sudden death, allowed Love to qualify for the 1995 Masters.

"It [the pressure] was pretty bad," Love said yesterday. "It was a different kind of pressure. There's the pressure you have to win your first tournament. The pressure in the Ryder Cup. That was something I had never experienced."

Now Love, 31, is doing something else he has never before experienced: being in the hunt at the Masters. He gave himself that opportunity yesterday when his second straight 3-under-par-69 put him three shots in back of the the 36-hole leader, Jay Haas.

That Love has never been in the running here is a bit perplexing, considering how high and long he is off the tee and how competent he is around the greens. But in five previous Masters, he has missed the cut twice and has finished no higher than a tie for 25th in 1992.

"I'm in a lot better position than I was last year at this time, when I was about an hour down the road," said Love.

Love's victory Sunday -- his first in two years -- came hours after legendary golf teacher Harvey Penick died in Austin, Texas, at the age of 90. It has been widely reported that Penick clapped his hands three times upon learning that Love, whose late father, Davis Jr., was a close friend of his, had taken the lead.

Some other PGA Tour pros, such as Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, who were disciples of Penick, attended his funeral before coming here. Love, who admittedly didn't know Penick that well, chose to come straight from New Orleans.

"I think about it [Penick's death] a lot," said Love. "I think about it every time I see Ben Crenshaw's name on the leader board or see Tom Kite walking by. My dad was so much like him. All he cared about was his students; how they played, how they lived. That's how he lived his life until the end."

Price makes another exit

Nick Price, who was trying to become the only player in history besides the legendary Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three straight major championships, will not get that chance. Price missed the cut at 5-over 149 after a 73 yesterday.

Last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year, Price still is No. 1 in the Sony world rankings. But it has more to do with what he has done internationally -- he leads the European money list as a result of second-place finishes at the Dubai Open and the Johnny Walker Championship in Manila -- than for what he has done in four American events this year.

Since shooting a course-record 63 in the third round of the 1986 Masters and finishing fifth, Price has had as many rounds in the 80s as 60s (two each) and has finished no higher than a tie for sixth in 1992. He has now missed the cut twice in the last three years and three of the last six.

L "Every time I make a decision, it's the wrong one," he said.

Eight former Masters champions missed the cut, the most recent being 1988 winner Sandy Lyle and 1987 winner Larry Mize. Also missing the cut were defending U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite.

Watson's cut string alive

At 1-under-par 143 after a second-round 70, two-time champion Tom Watson extended his record by making the cut for the 21st straight time. The only time Watson failed to make the cut was on his first trip to the Masters in 1970.

13th unlucky for Ballesteros

Another two-time champion, Seve Ballesteros of Spain, might have been in more serious contention if not for the way he played the 13th hole yesterday.

Ballesteros took a double bogey en route to a 3-under 69 to finish at 1-under 143. He hit his tee shot on the par-5 hole into a creek, took a drop and hit his next shot across the fairway, where it hit a spectator. He then pitched onto the green and three-putted for 7.

Power twosome short one

What had the makings of the longest-driving twosome in Masters history will not be. Tiger Woods, who averaged 325 yards off the tee yesterday and is averaging a little over 300 yards a drive for two rounds, will be playing one group ahead of John Daly.

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