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August 18, 2005

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Davis Love III for stopping in after his 3 under 67. Davis, of course, three Top 5s in your last four years here at Firestone, so you're another player who seems to like this course.

DAVIS LOVE III: I do. It suits my game. If you putt well and drive it in the fairway, which has been kind of a theme the last couple weeks, you can do well here. If you don't drive it well, it's a very hard course.

You put the ball in the fairway, there's a few birdie holes out there. But it's a tournament where you know you're going to play four rounds and you're going to grind it out. If you can hang in there, I just said to the Golf Channel, it's kind of like a mini major. It plays very tough and it gets harder as it goes along and the scores don't seem to get too much lower unless it's weather related.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about your day today. You got off to a great start with the eagle on 2 and two more birdies and then you kind of ran into some trouble.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I chipped in at 2 from just past the hole and made a nice birdie putt at 3, nice save at 4 and a short birdie putt at 5, so I was off and running. But I missed a few fairways just by a little bit that made it tough. 9, 10, 11, I was just out of the fairway and just long on the greens and had a three putt at 11, so I just kind of ran into a little patch where I wasn't hitting it close, and then got some birdie putts coming in.

But like I said, if you don't hit a perfect drive, it's going to go in the rough, and that plays hard.

Q. Is it a different mindset because you know you're going to play four rounds no matter what so if you get off to a bad start it's not like you're going to have the weekend off and you've only got 70 guys to beat?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it is like a major where you're thinking if "I can just get off to a good start and play steady golf and hang in there, I can be there in the end." You know, even though somebody goes out and shoots 5 or 6 or 7 under par today doesn't mean they're going to do that every day. But it is a lot like a major. It just gets a little bit harder every day to shoot a good score.

When you're going to the PGA you're not really thinking about, "well, I'm just trying to make the cut" because that isn't going to do it much good. I think it's a lot like a major, that you know if you grind it out you'll be there at the end.

Q. On kind of a different angle I was just curious if you do eliminate maybe the amenities and the vistas, what's the difference here between here and Hilton Head, given that you've had a pressure cooker week, you're still trying to play well, but is there a little bit of relief?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a little bit of relief but it's a little bit of continuation, too. If you've been playing well it's a very similar style golf course. Hilton Head looks real easy when you're coming off The Masters. Those greens take a lot less thought, a lot of pressure off. You start banging them back in the middle. This place plays pretty hard.

After a major, you know, you're going to play the next week, it's a little bit of a sigh of relief that you've got the pressure off a little bit. I know this one for me is always they've named The Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup team, and you relax a little bit. I know that's a little bit of a weight off my shoulders, I don't have to worry about that anymore.

If you didn't look at the names of the tournaments, if you looked at the purses, you'd pretty much be gearing up for this week, for the last three or four. That's kind of the way I look at it. It's a nice tournament to have after a real big one.

Q. When you weren't hitting them in the fairway, were they bouncing off or were you just missing?

DAVIS LOVE III: All but one were right down the right edge of the fairway trying to hang in there. I got a new driver actually yesterday and was real excited about it, and I was hitting it really good, and I think I hit a lot of good solid shots. I just was hitting them maybe a little straighter, wasn't turning it over maybe as much as my other one. I left a few down the right edge. I also hit a bad 1 iron at 13 in the rough.

I was close, though. I could have been ten feet on four or five drives and been right in the fairway, so I would have been in good shape.

Q. How much did last week carry over to today and the way you were playing real well last week?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think the putting carried over. I hit a couple putts too hard, got one three putt out of it. But I rolled the ball real well and I'm confident with the putter and excited about the way I'm swinging. I'm sure it definitely carries over.

Q. Two parter. I was just curious if in the last two days you relived the last four at Baltusrol, and secondly, if you and Phil and Elk and Bjorn take it as any kind of a compliment that Tiger goes home on Sunday night?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I just saw that today, but I think I would have done the same thing (laughter), maybe kept one engine running at home, though.

What was the first part?

Q. Are you pretty good at saying, "over," or have you spent the last two days reliving

DAVIS LOVE III: You know what frustrates me about the whole thing is I never hit 18 fairway. That's what kills me. You've got the easiest hole on the golf course and I put it in the bunker every day. You think, "well, if you just hit it twice and knock it on the green twice and make two birdies you're at least in a playoff." What you should do, like I watched other guys do, is stripe down the middle every time and have an iron in. Maybe not on Sunday, I might not have had an iron in, but if I had hit it the first three days I could have laid up on Sunday and had a lead. That's what killed me. I didn't play 17 or 18 particularly well. Those are holes I could have beat up a little bit on.

Q. Are you kind of back to the third question or 2A or whatever it was, but are you pretty good at shutting things down when it's over or do you beat yourself up?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I went in there with two goals, to have a chance to win and to make The Presidents Cup team. You know, I had a chance. I was right there. I was within a couple shots of the lead the whole time.

You know, I was a couple drives and a couple better lies away from winning. So I know that when I get back to the Masters next year, I'll say, "hey, there's two of them. I could have won last year, there's no reason why I can't win one this year."

Q. Are you looking forward to forgive my Presidents Cup question having Fred back on the team? What's that going to do? What does Fred at this point in his career bring to the team?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we just replayed shots from RTJ that he hit and putts that he made and get us fired up. But he adds a lot. He's like having Jay Haas we've had on a couple of teams recently and Curtis Strange one time. I guess that was at Oak Hill. It's having a guy that's done it a whole bunch that you know is a great team guy.

Freddie will look more forward to a Presidents Cup than any tournament all year. You know he's going to be excited and hopefully we can talk Jack into letting us play together. That would be a lot of fun for both of us, to get to play. I play great with Kenny and Stewart Cink or a lot of guys on the team, but it would be fun to play with Freddie.

Q. Do you anticipate this course getting much more difficult, and did you sense it getting more difficult as your round went on?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, there were some firm greens out there today, and I think unless it rains they'll get firmer and the fairways will get harder if they firm up a little bit, too. This wind is drying it out.

Q. Do you feel like your attitude and your perception of this tournament has changed over the years more from when it first came out, it seemed very, very important, and now it's maybe only very important, a little less? We talked about it being a little bit of a breather, sort of a half joke, but it seems to be what do you think of the WGC series and this tournament?

DAVIS LOVE III: Like I said, if you went and took the names off the tournaments and picked the golf courses and the purses, you know, you'd rank the World Golf Championships up there pretty high. You could start with the Players and then the World Golf Championships and then the majors. If you did it without looking at the names of the tournaments.

So I think they're very important. They're a little bit controversial with some of the guys on the Tour that don't get in them, but they're big international events. It's a big chunk of your year when you consider we play three of them, and two of them late in the year. They're very important to everything we do, chasing money titles and wins, and they're big tournaments to win.

I know I haven't won one, and I really do want to win one. Are they important? Yeah. I went home and practiced for a day and a half and worked hard to get ready for this one just like I did last week. Is it more important than winning the PGA? No, but it sure would take the sting out of not winning to win here.

Q. Based on everything you just said, how likely is it that a younger guy or a virtual unknown can win this tournament?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think anybody at any of our Tour events, whether it's World Golf Championship or a major, we've seen guys that are new to playing the Tour come out and win majors and guys pop up and win all kinds of tournaments. There's a lot of great players. It would not be a surprise we see Stenson up there at 5 under when we came in. There's a lot of great players. The Americans need to realize that it's not a given that we're going to dominate out on Tour. There's a lot of great players from around the world, and tournaments like this where more of them get in, they come to show how good they are.

I remember all the way back to the old format, Fulton Allem just getting in this tournament, and he played great here twice. Just give these guys a chance, and they can really play.

Q. This is your 16th tournament here. Are you ready to be an elder statesman just yet?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, sometimes I feel like it. You know, when I go to a Presidents Cup team and they say, you know, I've played 12 in a row or international tournaments, you start to feel a little bit elder statesman. You know, I'm only 41 and I feel like that's a great age to play out here. You know, you look at how many guys in their early 40s have won big tournaments and been the No. 1 player in the world, like Vijay was for a while. It's a great time to be playing. I've got a lot of experience and I can rely on that. As long as I stay patient and work hard, there's no reason why I can't work my way back up to the top.

Q. Are you surprised that you have not won here?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. I've had a couple good chances, and I've never really had a real consistent week. I had a lot of days like today where I made a lot of birdies, but I made some bogeys, too, so hopefully this will be the week.

Q. Have you run across any players this week that you can honestly say you've never seen before in your life?

DAVIS LOVE III: Maybe one, but I've only been here I got here yesterday morning. I haven't run into them all yet.

Q. When that happens, do you find yourself saying who is that, or do you find yourself saying, "how did he get here?"

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I know how they get here because I've been around the board a lot and I've answered a lot of questions from other players who don't get in (laughter). You know, if it's going to be International Golf Federation, it's going to be international. This tournament is watched all around the world and we like to have people from all around the world playing in it. You know, there's always a few new faces.

I had, I guess, a brother or friend of one of the guys in the locker room, he was getting autographs. They're just excited to be here. It's just a big deal. Like at a British Open when a guy qualifies, never played in something like that, and you see them they want to take pictures of you on the driving range and they're playing the tournament. It makes it a lot of fun. It spreads the Tour to other parts of the world.

Q. You mentioned a couple times about this being, the series being a little controversial. How much do you here about it from guys who don't make it?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you hear a little bit. There's always a we always say there's 20 guys that are on one side and 20 guys on the other side and the rest don't care. There's usually about 20 guys that are complaining about something all the time. You can look at it as a positive or a negative. The guys that look at it as, hey, we're selling a package, a big package, this is a big part of our package. THE PLAYERS Championship and World Golf Championship, Presidents Cup, are all part of a big package. Now, do all the guys play in them that go to Q. School, no, but you look at the guys here playing, it's all our best players. That's why there's money in Reno this week. That's why there's money at BC and other places, because we sell a big package.

You can't keep everybody happy, but the Tour grows every year, gets better and better, and these tournaments are certainly a big part of it.

Now, THE PLAYERS Championship has improved every five years, ten years. It gets better and better. These tournaments are starting to grow into that age bracket where, all right, what are we going to do to keep them growing and keep them exciting. I know that's a focus of the board right now, what do we do to keep them improving.

Look at the PGA Championship last week. That tournament has changed a lot in the last 20 years. It's gotten better and better and better. They've gone from feeling like they're left out sometimes to maybe the best setup of any major championship. We're working at it.

TODD BUDNICK: We'll just go through your eagle, birdies, bogey. No. 2.

DAVIS LOVE III: Driver, 3 wood just behind the green to about 30 feet, I guess, chipped in.

1 iron and a 7 iron to about 15, 18 feet at 3.

Nice save on 4, made about a ten footer for par.

5 iron to about six feet at 5.

9, right rough, just through the green about 40 or 50 feet, chipped it by about six, seven feet, missed it.

11, just in the rough with a driver, 8 iron just 30 feet behind the hole and three putted.

12, 6 iron to about 15 feet.

13 was a 1 iron in the left rough, 7 iron short of the green, chipped it just in the back fringe and two putted.

17, a 1 iron off the tee and a 7 iron to about 20 feet.

Q. What was the club on 16?

DAVIS LOVE III: 16? I hit a driver, 7 iron.

Q. Oh, you laid up, sorry.


Q. Did you hit it in the fairway?


Q. Any thought?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I figured if I hit 3 wood I would be way too far over the green and 1 iron wouldn't get there. I laid up and bounced it over the green with a wedge (laughter). That green is always so hard, but it's hard to land it on the front when the water is there. You want to fly it to the middle of the green, and you do that and it bounces over. That's a hard three shotter.

Q. When you were a youngster, let's say mid 70s, did you ever watch the U.S. Amateur on the tele?

DAVIS LOVE III: A few of them, maybe later '70s, like CCNC, what was that, like late '70s?

Q. I think so.

DAVIS LOVE III: That was probably the first one I watched.

Q. Do you remember any winners from that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Did Hal Sutton win that?

Q. I think he won big.

DAVIS LOVE III: That was probably the first one I paid attention to.

Q. Did you ever in your lifetime look at the U.S. Amateur as a major?

DAVIS LOVE III: When I was trying to get in it, yes (laughter). If I would have won it, I would have for sure counted it.

Q. Seriously?

DAVIS LOVE III: A USGA medal is a USGA medal. It's an amateur major for sure. Yeah, I would say they can count them.

Q. When do you think people stop looking at it? Obviously Jones counted it.

DAVIS LOVE III: Right. Jack counts them, doesn't he?

Q. Depends on what day it is, but yeah. Any idea? Do you think it went away with Palmer?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. You'll have to let me think about that on the range. I can't answer that.

End of FastScripts.

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