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BETTING SPECTATORS INCITE LOVE TO PLAYERS WIN

First, Davis Love III got mad. Then he got even.

And by getting even with some gamblers in the gallery, he got ahead in the golf tournament and went on to the biggest triumph of his career, a four-shot victory in the prestigious Players Championship at Ponte Vedra, Fla.

"It's difficult to think of everything this means," Love said Sunday after he had turned back late bids by Nick Faldo and Phil Blackmar with a couple of magnificent shots down the stretch.To start with, there's the $324,000 first prize, which boosted his season's earnings to $585,465.

Then there's a spot in the year-ending, non-aligned, $2.5 million World Championship, along with the World Series of Golf and the Tournament of Champions.

And a 10-year exemption from qualifying in PGA Tour events.

Perhaps most importantly, it's recognition from his peers and a major advancement in his career.

Love's march to that higher level was triggered by an incident on the par-3 eighth hole, where he missed the green far to the right.

When he went into the trees and trash to play his second shot, he overheard some spectators talking.

"Some guys in the gallery were betting 3-1 and 5-1 that I wouldn't get it up and down," Love said. "I tried not to let it bother me, but I just got mad. I just decided I was going to chip it in on them."

He did, then walked over to the astounded bettors and said: "I hope you lost on that."

The birdie put him in front for the first time. He preserved the position with a great save on the 14th and went two in front with a deft little chip that set up a tap-in birdie on the 16th.

He then nailed down the most important victory of his seven-season career on the PGA Tour with a bold, go-for-broke 9-iron shot to a tucked pin on the island green of the 17th hole.

Love secured his fourth career victory with a closing 5-under-par 67, the best round of the day, and a 273 total, matching the tournament record on the TPC at Sawgrass.

Faldo, the English ace who scored consecutive Masters victories in 1989-90, shot 74 and tied for second at 277 with Blackmar, Watson and British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch of Australia.

At Rancho Mirage, Calif., Dottie Mochrie birdied No. 18 to force a playoff and then beat Juli Inkster with par on the the first hole of sudden death Sunday in the Dinah Shore tournament, the LPGA's first major of the season.

Dottie Mochrie, who earned $105,000, closed with a 3-under-par 69 and Inkster shot a 71 for 9-under 279 totals on the 6,437-yard Mission Hills Country Club course.