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December 8, 2004

Davis Love III


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Davis, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Target World Challenge. If we could start with how you're feeling.

DAVIS LOVE III: I feel real good. I had almost a month off and then practicing and playing for a week, and I feel really good. Exactly what I needed was a month off, so I'm in good shape and excited about playing here and then taking another month off and starting at the Hope. I'll be well-rested and ready to go when I get to the Hope.

Q. Talk about the Father-Son.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I needed at least a month off after the TOUR Championship. I actually started hitting balls I think it was the Monday -- chipping and putting the Monday of the week of the Office Depot Father and Son, and my son said, "See, you can play." I said, "No, I can chip and putt."

We actually played nine holes on Friday, the new course at Sea Island. After we played nine holes, he said, "Okay, I see you're not ready to play in a tournament," because he basically beat me. I wasn't going to be ready to play, and I was hoping to get rested and a little practice in to be ready to play here, and I still have only played one 18-hole round since the TOUR Championship.

Q. What do you like about this tournament and why are you so successful here?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's a fun week. It's obviously a big tournament but it's also a fun tournament, small field, and I've played here a lot. I played the Shark Shootout here a good bit so I'm comfortable on the golf course. It's a fun time of year because you don't get to play tournaments like this every week, so you kind of get excited about it.

Like I said, I practiced for a week to get ready for it, and it's a more relaxed, fun time of year. I'm going to Sun Valley on Sunday for a big vacation almost through Christmas, and I've just got to get excited about playing here. I do well because I think I come in with a good attitude. It's usually after a few weeks off, so I'm refreshed.

Q. What's been holding you back the most, your neck, your back, your shoulder?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, it's just the same, same thing I've been fighting since probably 2000, the neck problem going down my arm. If I overdo it practicing, playing, or there are things I do away from the golf course, whatever it is, driving a tractor, shooting a bow and arrow or things that I do when I'm off -- my problem is when I'm off, I'm more active than when I'm playing, and they're telling me you need to slow down a little bit. A day off would be nice where you just sit around and watch TV, which I don't do very well.

So I had to take a different approach to my month off than I had in the past. If I take a week off and go bang around on a tractor for a week and then try to come back and play, I'm not really getting a break, not really giving my body a rest.

At the end of the year I was frustrated. I hadn't won. I kept pushing myself to play after the Ryder Cup, which I put a lot into getting ready to play in the Ryder Cup, and I was basically hurting after that and I should have taken a month off, but trying to win, trying to chase positions on the Money List and getting kind of frustrated that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing, I pushed myself a little bit too far.

You would think after 20 years, 22, 23 years of playing competitive golf, you'd figure out when enough is enough, but this year is the first year I really got to the point where physically I wasn't ready to play, mentally I wasn't ready to play, and I was frustrated, and rather than getting away from it, I kept pushing harder and harder and finally I just couldn't go anymore.

Now, I don't think I've really had this kind of a break in a long time, plus I'm still looking forward to the next break, you know. I started 2003 at the Hope and it was a great year. That's kind of what I'm looking at as -- I'm not in Kapalua so I can skip the first three weeks of the year, and then I'm out and ready to play.

Q. You usually do well there, don't you?

DAVIS LOVE III: I've played off and on there, probably every other year. I'll get back into it probably next year because of the -- getting ready for the Open.

Q. When you won here, it started a good year, but you haven't won since, have you?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I haven't. I came close a few times but I hadn't won, and I think that's why I dug myself into a hole at the end of the year because after last year I was playing great and came out and had a couple chances to win and didn't do it, then I started trying too hard, pushing too hard, trying to get back to that level. It's hard to have back to back to back really good years like Tiger and Vijay have been doing.

Now I'm looking at it as, all right, this is the start of the next year rather than the finish because I've had my break and I'm back to work on my golf swing. I'm experimenting -- this is the wintertime when you can try to get things fixed and ready, so I'm excited about golf. Rather than finishing the year, I feel like I'm starting the year.

Q. Is there part of you that senses the end of the road might be coming up?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we've talked about it. Jack Lumpkin and I were talking last week, it's the next four or five years where you need to focus. You keep saying I'm going to try to play until I'm 50, that's great, but the next four or five years are when you're going to win your majors and win your big tournaments. That's why I'm working on my swing, trying to change my swing. There were three or four Tour players on the range the other day, and one of them turned around and said, "I can't believe he's still excited and working this hard on his game." I want to get better, so the next four or five years are going to be important.

I felt the frustration of 19 years of playing and not having the year I liked this past year. I finally have felt if I don't do the right things, I'm going to get passed by. So I'm feeling real excited about the next four or five years, but I also see that now is the time to put a lot of effort into it and take advantage of my experience, which is what a lot of guys do in their early 40s, win major championships. You don't see a whole lot after 45, but you see a whole lot of 40, 41, 42 guys get in position and they can go ahead and win.

Q. What are you doing to change your swing?

DAVIS LOVE III: Just trying to get my backswing in the right position. I tend to go across the line, and I've fought that since college. I've gotten better and better and better and just continue to work on that. It's nothing different, just not trying to be perfect, but I'm trying to get into a position where I can be consistent. It's not a rebuild.

Q. If it came down to two players and you were one of the two, who would you like the other to be?

DAVIS LOVE III: Right now I wish Darren Clarke was here because he's obviously withdrawn for some reason and not able to play. I wish he was here playing.

I don't know, they're all playing good. Padraig is playing good and Vijay is playing great, so I just hope I'm up there.

Q. What do you hear from Darren?

DAVIS LOVE III: I haven't heard from him. I just saw that he wasn't here and I've got cigars for him, so I know it's not a good sign, him withdrawing.

Q. What are you going to do with the extras (laughter)?

DAVIS LOVE III: I gave Miguel some and there's some for you and there's some for me to take to Idaho.

Q. Do you think your record last year reflects how you played?

DAVIS LOVE III: I didn't play four good rounds, a whole tournament.

Q. What disturbs you more, pacing yourself golf-wise or that you haven't paced yourself off the course?

DAVIS LOVE III: Off the course. Like I never hit -- I never hit balls for more than an hour and a half this week because what happens is I get out there and get excited, and it's like college. I haven't played for two weeks and then there's a tournament coming up so I cram for the exam and pound balls for two days. I'm trying to spread out the ball hitting rather than doing it in a day or two. I like hitting balls when I'm working on something.

My problem is I procrastinate and do it on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and then go to a tournament and I've beat myself up. I've been talking to some friends and some doctors and they said you need to practice all of the time rather than just some of the time, and I try to play catch-up. I know -- was it in 2000 Retief won the U.S. Open? That year I was hitting 20 balls to warm up, no balls after I played, and it got better. I was playing my normal schedule, but because I practiced the right way, it got better while I was playing rather than worse, and that's where I need to be.

I'm starting my 19th year on the Tour next year. I ought to have it figured out that I don't need to practice 10 hours a day. I don't need to rebuild my swing, I don't need to stand out there on the range with Vijay, I just need to do maintenance consistently.

Q. Are you going to hire Freddie at all for his relaxation techniques?

DAVIS LOVE III: I need to. Going to Hawaii to watch Oliver surf for December, so it would probably be smart to hang out with him more rather than the guys I'm hanging out with.

Q. What do you do on the tractor?

DAVIS LOVE III: Just playing stuff and mowing stuff and pushing stuff over, just doing tractors, farm work. I've got four John Deere tractors.

End of FastScripts.

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