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One win puts Love at 20 and into Hall of Fame light

He nearly choked up behind the 18th green of the Magnolia Course at Disney for so many reasons.

Love is 44, and while he still looks and feels much younger, it is an age when players naturally wonder if their last victory is behind them. It doesn't help to go two years without a victory while struggling to return from an injury.

"You always question, 'Am I doing the right things?' and 'Can I still do it?' and 'Why am I doing it?"' Love said. "But I didn't doubt my desire. I didn't doubt the fact that I could compete."

The victory also came nearly 20 years to the day when his father was killed in a plane crash.

"I would put this one right up there with New Orleans," said Faxon, referring to Love's victory in 1995 that got him into the Masters as longtime friend Harvey Penick was dying. "I thought it had to be as meaningful a win as any of them. He's been hurt. He hasn't won. His 20th victory on the 20th anniversary of his father's death.

"This virtually guarantees his spot in the Hall of Fame."

But if 20 wins is comparable to a pitcher winning 300 games or a hitter with 500 home runs, the Hall of Fame vote probably should start with another 20-tournament winner - Lanny Wadkins.

Wadkins was not nearly as congenial as Love, which might explain why he hasn't been elected. Wadkins, who received 50 percent of the vote last time, finished his career with 21 victories, one major at the PGA Championship at Pebble Beach and Ryder Cup heroics.

The one difference might be consistency. In the 21 years between his first and last victory, Wadkins finished out of the top 50 on the money list seven times. Love has done that only twice in same stretch.

Of the seven players with at least 20 victories who are not in the Hall of Fame, only Love and Wadkins have won majors.

"I just remember that Lanny, when he won 20 (he) was so excited and what a big deal it was to him," Love said. "That separated Lanny from everybody else, that he had won 20 events. And back then, that was a dream, fantasy."

Indeed, when Wadkins won his 20th tour event in 1991, that moved him past contemporaries like Hale Irwin (19), Curtis Strange (17), Ben Crenshaw (15) and Tom Kite (15), all of whom now are in the Hall of Fame.

That's the kind of separation Love now has over some of his colleagues.

Wadkins should not have had to wait this long for his Hall of Fame election. Love should not be too far behind.

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