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August 18, 2016

Davis Love III

Greensboro, North Carolina

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'd like to welcome our defending champion here who is, unfortunately, unable to defend due to some surgery earlier in July. Davis Love, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

First, want to get a quick update on how you're feeling, your health. It's probably disappointing that you're not able to be in the field this week.

DAVIS LOVE, III: Hard not to get a tee time this week especially when you're defending goes. Billy Horschel just asked me in the locker room, "You ever done this before?" "No."

Fortunately, I've never done this before. It's disappointing not to get to play. The surgery went well. Rehab is going even better. So I'm kind of ahead of schedule.

Unfortunately, I'm not -- I don't have anything to play in until October so that's the goal is to be ready for the start of the season and kick off with Safeway and be ready to go again.

And then I just really wanted to make sure by September I could walk really well and obviously I'm wearing a lot of hats right now (indicating). I didn't have my Workday, my normal golf hat or golf shoes this week. No Titleist balls in my locker.

Kind of here, you know, saying hello to a bunch of friends and thanking them for everything from last year and then also peeking out, watching some of the team guys play and some of the guys trying to make the team and not get in there way. I just went in the skybox and watched. Nobody saw me there.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: We certainly appreciate you joining us. With that, I'll turn it over with questions.

Q Can you just speak more about the impact that this tournament is going to have on the Ryder Cup team and your role as far as, you know, keeping your eyes out for your guys and seeing who can maybe make a move and get into contention for the tournament?

DAVIS LOVE, III: Yeah. I felt like, you know, middle of the summer there wasn't much to pay attention to on points and then all of a sudden at the PGA Championship I got really interested. Guys started moving. It's getting closer and closer.

Obviously, this week, next week are big for guys to try to solidify a guy at 6, 7 or 8 or try to move into the Top 8. We'll be very interested in guys moving up.

You know, Ryan Moore, he won but he didn't really move up a lot but you still looked at it and said there's that unofficial Captain's point lists. Everybody is getting credit on that list when a guy wins a golf tournament or plays well. It's not always reflected in the points.

You know, Jim Furyk played one, did probably one of the best rounds ever played in the history of the PGA TOUR golf and he didn't really move up much in points but he got everybody's attention that he's really playing well and then you go back and look wow, Jim, he played great at the U.S. Open, he's played really well in a lot of big tournaments come after his wrist problem and there's a lot of guys in that boat, like Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka have been hurt and Justin Thomas won a tournament in October that didn't count last year.

I mean there's obviously a lot of guys that kind of put on the unofficial points list and keep an eye on them. That's what I'm watching this week.

Really what we want over the next four weeks are the guys that are playing the best, guys to make it on points or if they don't make it points we want to be able to see them play and I got four great assistant captains that know what we're doing. Two of them might not get a vote, Stricker and Furyk if they keep playing the way they're playing. We might leave them out of the discussion.

I 1 to 25 guys are playing really, really well.

Q I'm just curious to know what you thought about the Olympics and you had a couple of Ryder Cup hopefuls playing there as well.

DAVIS LOVE, III: Yeah. I think a lot of us didn't know what to think going into the Olympics. I said, you know, let's see it one time and see if a guy wins a Gold Medal and how we react to that.

If I was a college golfer or junior golfer and I watched Matt Kuchar and Sybi jumping up and down on the 18th green, that's quite a statement. The guy finished 3rd in a golf tournament and look how excited he was and he had a grand reception back at Sea Island at the airport and everybody is excited about it.

I think seeing it, once guys are going to get more excited about it every time it happens. I saw Rickie and Bubba all over Instagram and Twitter and social media just blew up with their experience, you know.

I think the golf to me was great but being -- golf -- being in the Olympics Village and being a part of Team USA I think was the bigger thing. I can't wait to pin these guys down, Kuch and Bubba and say, "All right, what went on down there? What was it like? What can we take from that to build our team, to continue that feeling that they had down there?"

So, I think it was all good and you know as we all say, some of the Finchem's ideas we wonder about but it looks like he figured out this is a good thing for golf and good thing for the PGA TOUR.

Q You got two of those guys are here trying to impress you. What do you think about the way they're playing, how they fit in?

DAVIS LOVE, III: Well, what I've told a couple guys that have been concerned about their schedule with the Olympics or not playing in the Olympics and having some time off before The Playoffs is I have four picks and I told one of them I have a pick Sunday after the Tour Championship. Just go play golf, you know? That's kind of been my messages.

Let's try to be prepared for the PGA Championship, for the Olympics, for The Playoffs and then we'll be ready -- we'll be ready for the Ryder Cup.

If we get too hung up on points and are we going to win and who is going to make the team, we're going to defeat the purpose of just being prepared every week to play well and, you know, I think Bubba knows that and Rickie knows that, Patrick is obviously, he's on the bubble. They all know that I have picks. It think doesn't make it any easier.

They want to make sure they're positioned. We trying to get them to relax and play. That's why I'm not going to get in a cart and ride around and watch Rickie play and get in his way. I'll peek around the corner like my dad always did and watch the scores, obviously.

But we have a lot of people out there, you know, keeping tabs on what's going on both from training side, from the golf side and from obviously from statistics side of seeing who is playing well.

Q Just wondering, like what a rejuvenated Phil Mickelson does on the team for you, if you have a story of his enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup.

DAVIS LOVE, III: There's obviously a lot of talk about Jay picking him before, you know, created before we went over there and Phil was the star of the team in the team room and on the golf course. He played as well or better than everybody else.

When we walked off the 18th green on Sunday afternoon over there, Bones and Phil combined probably told me 6 times they were ready for the Ryder Cup, you know. I said, "I got it, I understand, you want to play and you're going to be ready."

I think Bones's quote was, "Don't forget about my man." You can ask Phil, I said all along he's going to make it on points, there's no doubt. He was trending up at the end of last year and he's continued that form.

You know, we want Phil Mickelson there no matter what but Phil has a plan. He said two years ago, "I'll be an Assistant Captain", he said, "but I'm going to play so just don't count on me."

So, Tiger said, "I think I'm going to play and I'll be an Assistant Captain and play at the same time" but Phil said, "I'm not going to do both. I'm going to play. I'll support you in every way."

We knew he was playing well. He's a big part of our team for the last 20-plus years and even back to Bones going to the '93 Ryder Cup and watching and supporting us when Phil wasn't in it.

So, they're a big part of it. Excited he's on the team and playing well and I told him mostly because of Amy (laughter). Got to have team leadership on the wives's side, too.

Q Davis, how do you balance those statistics of who is playing well on paper versus the intangibles of who matches up well and who is good in the team room and does that factor change based on which 8 guys qualify on their own?

DAVIS LOVE, III: Yeah. I get asked all the time, "Who are you going to pick? Who are you going to pick?" I don't know who I'm going to pick until I know who I get.

If the 7, 8, 9, 10 guys flop around the next two weeks it changes how we look at it. Only took the 8 right now, we could look down and who matches up.

Obviously we know we're going to get Dustin and Jordan and Phil and Jimmy, probably Zach, probably Brooks.

But we know that we're going to plug holes like Darren right now is probably looking for experience. I probably got enough experience. I'm looking for who is hot.

We want to make -- parings, I think, is the biggest thing I've learned being around the kind of the Captain side ever it since 2010 with Corey, is we just want to plug holes and make parings and get guys that matchup well.

You don't want to pick a guy and go okay, now what do we do with him? I picked a quarterback. Wait a minute, I got three quarterbacks. Why did I pick a quarterback? We're planning ahead for parings.

Once we get the 8 over the next couple of weeks we'll put some things down in pencil and once we get to 8 we'll start hard-lining who is in what group and who makes good parings.

But, obviously Tiger, Jim, Steve, Tom Lehman, myself, we've done this a lot. We know the pairings. I've already talked to Jay and Freddie about parings, too. They're really good at it from the Presidents Cup side and Freddie always said it's easier on the Presidents Cup side because you don't sit as many guys out. Jay had to sit more guys out.

All that experience really helps, too.

Q When you talk about experience and perhaps on a crystal ball gazing when you get to a situation where your 9th ranked player is a rookie and the other guys behind you played Ryder Cup, how difficult is it not to pick that rookie as one of your picks?

DAVIS LOVE, III: Well, it's tough not to pick the No. 9 guy. I've been through that before.

But, I think, again, what Jay did going down to 30 with Phil, you just got to get the identify that fits and it's tough, it's a tough phone call for guys at 9, 10, 111, 12. You look 8 now, the top 12 looks really good but the next 6, 8 look really good, too. You're going to skip -- that's the problem, that's what Jack Nicklaus said the first time he was Presidents Cup Captain, "I'm going take the top 12 and not have any picks."

Well, it's a good theory but it's kind of the chicken way out but, you know, our top 12 or next 12 are are all really, really good. You're going to leave a great player off.

The thing is matching them up for parings and then getting to somebody who is hot with the putter, who is on a roll like Brandt in 2012 was on roll and we picked him. Ended up winning the FedEx.

This time around if we get a guy that's hot we're not sure if he's going to stay hot and we get to watch him another week and see if he wins the FedEx or see if he has a great week at the Tour Championship.

That's the only thing I'm kind of nervous about, what do you do, do you send five guys in there not only are they playing for the FedEx and Tour Championship but put a lot of pressure on them knowing that, all right, here is the three I picked?

That narrows it down. How do I handle those guys? Tom Lehman and I talked a little bit about that. "What do we tell guys? How many golf bags do we make, you know, to have one ready for Tuesday pictures at the Ryder Cup?"

Things like that, it's different this time around. It's going to be interesting.

Q You mentioned, do you find yourself now looking at the European team board, they have two events before the end of qualification.

DAVIS LOVE, III: I've been playing on our Tour a lot the last few years and I don't need to do a psychological profile of Rickie Fowler or Patrick Reed or these guys, I know them, know them very well.

Their side, I don't know quite as well. So I've got some stats guys looking at it. If I go to a press conference after The Barclays I better know something about Danny Willett, you know? I met him, congratulated him. I never played with him. I don't know him.

So there's a few guys that are kind of unknowns. Bob Rotella would say it doesn't really matter. Our team is going to go play our game. You do want to know what Darren is doing.

It's obvious if I was Darren right now where he would be looking, looking for experience and where is my man, Lee Westwood, and things like that.

That's the way I'm looking at it. I'm interested -- I'm not stressing over who their team is going to be. We know they're going to be good and get my team ready.

Q Medinah lower rough, more opportunities for. birdies. Are you looking for something similar with Hazeltine or heard anything about how the set-up is going with the course?

DAVIS LOVE, III: I've talked to Kerry quite a bit. I think we kind agreed and the Captains' agreement and unofficial Captains' agreement that Darren and I had, there's not going to be any tricky business.

We've heard it from their side, we've heard it from our side. We tried to get the pins at Medinah way ahead and go putt them a whole bunch.

I think we overdid it. We got too hung up in where it was breaking instead of playing the game. We told Kerry everybody likes the PGA Championship when you set it up.

I think this year is the first complaint I heard and it's because it rained. He got in trouble because of the rain and he played kind of stretched out the weekend and some people complained about it. Obviously it worked.

But his setup, nobody ever complains about his golf course. We're saying look, you set it up the way you think, when we get our team we might tell you to mow the rough a little bit but we're not going to -- you know, the PGA Championship pins, we've obviously played there in past. It's fine with us. Don't put them on the edge of the green.

I think the fans wants to see both teams make some birdies. For the home team it's better there's more birdies because it's louder. Paul Azinger's theory is what we want at Medinah. It worked. We made a ton of birdies, they made a ton of birdies, too.

It might not be -- in the end if you're looking at it, it's just a golf tournament, it's the same for everybody. Set it up hard or easy you still have to hit great wedge shots and make some putts.

Darren says they've had the run of the greens, we haven't. Somehow we got to get the run of the greens and hole some putts but I don't think chipping out of deep rough is what Ryder Cup fans want to see.

When I go to the baseball game I want to see home runs. I don't want a fence to be 480 and nobody hits it out. I think we want to see some good golf and some birdies and get the fans into it.

Q Can you give us any insight when you look at the stats what you're looking at, what you might be emphasizing stats-wise?

DAVIS LOVE, III: I'm overwhelmed by them sometimes. I send them on to like Furyk. "Can you help me with this (laughter)?" I didn't take math much at North Carolina.

We got some incredible info and what's great is I send it to Tom Lehman and he says, "Hey, what about this?"

I send it back and they crunch the numbers down a little bit more. There's this massive amount of information from ShotLink and what they're doing in honing it down to what we can actually use for course set-up, for how we play the last three holes, for strengths and weakness of our players.

I sat down and studied what they sent me and I found out that we have -- everybody in our top, say, 10 has a wedge distance they're like the best on Tour, like Top-5 or 6 on Tour.

So it doesn't matter if it's Dustin or obviously Zach is a great wedge player but everybody on our team has a wedge distance we're they're just as good as Zach, which is pretty amazing when you think we've got the bombers on the team.

We got these guys that make a lot of birdies on par-5s and are power hitters and hit a lot of greens. Turns out that everybody, Brooks Koepka has a wedge distance that he's really, really good at. Maybe we don't need to make the par-5s reachable. Maybe we need to make them unreachable.

Things like that is what we're looking at and, again, we're not going to pull any tricks that give us a huge advantage but why not set -- if we have a slow infield favors our team, we'll slowdown the infield.

Q Davis, you mentioned that one or two of your assistants might not get a vote by the time you get down to it.

What's been the dialogue like with Tiger and how involved has he been the last couple weeks as you have gotten closer to potentially make something picks?

DAVIS LOVE, III: Very involved. He's kind of got his plan. What I think we've all done after this task force and narrowing it down to the Ryder Cup Committee, what we've all done, we're thinking ahead while we're planning this team.

So, you know, Jim Furyk went to the first big three hour stats meeting with me like, okay, because maybe one day he might have to deal with all this so he's learning, it's a learning curve.

Like Darren in 2010 at Wales, he was in training, you know. So now that's what we're doing is getting our guys up to speed.

So Tiger has really been -- he's got a plan for what he wants to do with his Captain, Assistant Captaincy where he thinks he can help out.

Obviously he's a great tactician, if that's the right word. He's planning out his game plan for the week. Obviously there's a lot of issues with him like if goes to check the pins the whole gallery is going to go watch him and not watch the match.

So, I think planning out his week, you know, like we were talking about him coming here last year, it was a different -- they had to plan for where -- when he was going to arrive and where he's going to walk and he had never been here before. We never had a Tiger Woods walk around the Ryder Cup and not be playing. It's will be interesting.

He's very involved helping me make a lot of decisions. I think probably -- and because of Jim and Steve now, they're getting closer and closer kind of to in the mix for picks, I've been relying more on Tiger and Tom than Jim and Steve just for the kind of the decisions, what do we do about this or that?

He's been -- he's very accessible and always willing to help. And he stays up late so he gives me a lot of late night texts.

Q Davis, this tournament being back here as the defending champion and not being able to play, how unusual is that for you to be here and sort of what are you feeling?

DAVIS LOVE, III: It's unusual. I hate -- selfishly I hate not playing and then for Wyndham, for all the BB&T and all the sponsors, I had surgery during the Media Day and there's -- it hadn't been what we all wanted for a defending champion.

I hate missing any golf tournament but especially hate missing this one. North Carolina and the Greensboro tournament has -- no matter where it's been, has been great to me.

It's very strange. I said I went to the PGA Championship and didn't have any golf balls in my locker and I came here and don't even have a locker (laughter).

The only reason I had surgery in the middle of the summer is because I'm competitive. I want to get back and want a full season next year. I want to be here next year talking about my run into The Playoffs, not being injured again.

I'm a lot like Tiger. Give me one full season, I'm going to be very, very happy, you know, without having -- I stopped last year, had a big surgery in the spring last year.

My game ready machine just stays full of ice seems like the last couple of years. Unfortunately I've been watching the Olympics and handing the hose to the game ready to my son back and forth. He had shoulder surgery. We've just been trading off. I'm ready to be done with that and start October fresh but I hated missing the PGA and hate missing here.

Q When you do come back, are you going to play -- concentrate on the Champions Tour or this Tour?

DAVIS LOVE, III: I'm going to start on the regular Tour. Obviously exempt this year and next year after my win but if I don't make the 125, I'm kind of telling Vijay, "I'm going to go to the Champions Tour whenever you go."

I'm trying the hang in there like him. Keep making the 125. He's older than me so he should go first (laughter).

As long as I feel like I'm competitive, like I'm not just taking up a spot, but I earned my spot, really. Obviously I'm a lifetime exemption but right now I earned my spot from winning. If I can make the 125 next year, get into The Playoffs, then I'll probably stay on the regular Tour a little bit but we got to get through this hip and then get through the Ryder Cup and then I can't wait to go to Safeway and start over again.

AMANDA HERRINGTON: Davis, thank you for joining us and we wish you the best on your recovery.

DAVIS LOVE, III: Thank you.

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