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June 30, 2004

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Davis Love III. Thank you for joining us, Davis. You've had some very good success here in the past, runner up in 2000 and 2002. Let's start by talking about why you like this course and why you've been successful here.

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a good strong golf course. It's a world classic design and it's a beautiful golf course. It's always in good shape. You know, you feel like you're playing a big tournament when you're playing this course and you feel like you're playing kind of a U.S. Open, PGA-type golf course, so it's fun to play and I've had a couple good tournaments here.

I'm staying with Jeff Sluman and some of Jeff's friends in Hinsdale, and I've got a lot of friends and fans around here, so it's always fun to come to Chicago.

Q. They've made some modifications over the past year since the last time you played it. Just talk a little bit about your feelings on the changes.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I like the 2nd hole even though it's harder. The new hole is easier it seemed like to get on the green at least. They're both probably hard to birdie.

So I kind of like going back to the original hole. Logistically it seems easier to play that hole.

I've never been a fan of turning 5s into 4s. Both holes are hard holes to make a 4 on, so I think it changes the card but it's still pretty much the same thing. You feel like you ought to be making a birdie if you call it a par 5, but they're still both holes that are hard to make 4s on.

Q. The 9th hole now is 600 yards. You're still a big hitter. Is that a good zone second shot for you if you hit it in the right spot, and was it a good idea to drop it back to 600?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't know what the reason was for dropping it back. It's not like everybody was knocking it on in two. I don't remember it being like, well, I can automatically knock it on this one in two. Today with very little wind I hit a very good drive and a 4-iron and a pitching wedge. You know, if they want everybody to be hitting short shots in, wedge shots or 9-irons, 8-irons in, that's the way they want them to play it, that's fine.

I just ask why 20 or 25 years ago did somebody decide that pars were better than birdies, and ever since then it's like, oh, we're having a big tournament, we can't have any birdies so let's change the par 5s to par 4s. I don't get it, like the U.S. Open to me, and the fans are at least split on it. I would think more fans would want to see more birdies than pars and bogeys.

When I can go to a basketball game or a baseball game, I want to see runs scored, I want to see baskets made. I don't want to see lip-outs. I don't want to see missed field goals. I want to see the guy kick the 45-yarder to win the game. I don't want to see him miss. I don't understand why par is so sacred that we have to change a 5 to a 4 when we've played it like that ever since we came here.

I'm going to try to win. I'm not going to worry about what the pars are on the holes. It's still a great course.

Q. I was out where the motor homes were parked out there and I was talking to Zach Johnson and he was mentioning that you have one and that you helped him actually park his the first time he bought his.

DAVIS LOVE III: Did he tell you his antenna was up when he got there?

Q. No. Can you tell me what the motor home life is like for the Tour players and how you kind of helped him ease into the process of that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's a lot like the NASCAR guys. Over the years they've figured out that getting to the track was hard and that they wanted to be able to control their three or four nights that they're in town a little bit better and be consistent in the things they do to prepare for the race. Well, we're the same way. We've got to get to the track. We've got to prepare mentally, physically, and we've got to have a good place to sleep, eat, get ready.

So it's growing out here and it's going to continue to grow. I have my whole family here this week and they wanted to stay closer to the Slumans in Hinsdale and they didn't have room in their yard for it --

Q. You'd probably get a ticket in Hinsdale.

DAVIS LOVE III: They'd probably stop you before you get into Hinsdale.

Q. Have you taught Zach quite a bit about that life?

DAVIS LOVE III: I got a lot of help from John Daly and other guys when I first came out. It was really just John and a few others when I first started bringing mine out. They helped me, here's where you need to park, and get away from that tree because you won't get satellite reception, things like that, so when Zach pulled up with his TV antenna sticking up -- he made it all the way from Dublin, Ohio, with his TV antenna sticking up. He looked at the space, and he said, where am I going to park, and I said you're between those two, and I could tell from the look on his face he didn't want to do it, so I parked it for him. It's just like somebody buying a Suburban and they've never driven one before. You've just got to get used to it. They're bigger, longer, they run into things. It takes some getting used to.

It's a great lifestyle. It's fun. I'm in a hotel this week, and it's strange for me because I don't have -- I don't know what the channels are on the TV. I don't have my TV, my pillow. Everything is set up the way I want it.

I've compared it to if you have a city apartment and you're just bringing it with you. When I go to work, I'm going to my apartment in the city and it's very comfortable.

Q. A couple weeks ago we were talking about how the Europeans haven't fared very well at the U.S. Open; on the other hand, Americans have done very well at the British Open. Why do you think Americans have done so well at the British Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know if there's a reason for it, if you can point at any one thing. South Africans have done well in the U.S. Open. I don't know, I don't think you can really point at any one thing that jumps out at you.

The Americans feel very strongly about the British Open, and we definitely try hard when we get over there to win it. I think it's just happenstance.

Q. The PGA Championship is going to be relatively nearby here, a couple hours north at Whistling Straits. I don't know if you've had a chance to play there or see it, but could you just talk about is the PGA different from say the U.S. Open or The Masters? Obviously it has significant meaning to you, but what makes it unique and special?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's unique because it's the last one, a little bit different because it's the PGA of America, the club pros' championship, so it has a little bit of history. There will be 25 club pros playing.

It's a lot like a U.S. Open golf course setup. If you had to say how it is they all set up, The Masters is one type tournament, British Open is one type tournament and PGA and U.S. Open are very similar. You play a lot of the same type golf courses. At the PGA, courses like Winged Foot or Oakland Hills, places like that, the PGA does branch out a little bit to stuff like they're doing this year, more like the USGA does.

I don't know, they're both similar style golf. PGA just has a different history, but it's a good history.

Q. You've been known as a good putter and especially a clutch putter. What do you attribute that to? Is that something you really worked on when you were younger? Also, when you play in a Pro-Am, when a Pro-Am partner asks you for a putting tip, what putting tip would you give them?

DAVIS LOVE III: Generally the Pro-Ams I help the guys with their putting more than anything because I had four guys today that had all different kinds of swings and I had never seen them before, I don't know their tendencies, but I know that if I tell them a little bit in putting that's mental, on the mental side of it, that I can help them make more putts because putting is 90 percent mental.

For most people, you miss putts, certainly it's 100 percent mental when you miss them. It's probably 90 percent mental when you make them. So I try to help them as much as I can on the mental side of it.

I think that I putt very well the more pressure there is or the more towards the end of a tournament. I tend to putt better because I concentrate better, because I get more into, well, gosh, if I make this putt here on 16, I'm going to be in this golf tournament. That reminds me to quit thinking about getting into the golf tournament and getting more into my routine.

Sometimes on a Thursday or a Friday, things aren't going well, I don't putt as well, but they're closer -- the more it means. Rocco Mediate's tournament yesterday, he turned to Mike Weir, my partner, and he goes, "Davis is going to make this one." I had about a 25-footer. He could tell by the look in his eye I was going to make it. You can tell the guys that the farther into it they get or the more pressure, the more focused they get, and I think I've learned to do that.

My problem is tomorrow morning or afternoon when I tee off, being in that kind of a -- all right, focused on what I'm doing attitude. That's what I try to help the amateurs with, just get into where the ball is going, how we're going to get it there, not worry about putting for that birdie or that you haven't helped the team yet, things like that. I try to coach them along to think right rather than to change their stroke.

Q. Looking ahead at the British, can you talk about your mindset going into Troon when you have two different -- not two different nines, but the front nine is the nine where you've got to get the score because the back nine is so difficult. Do you have to think that you have to make a few birdies on the front nine because the back nine is particularly difficult?

DAVIS LOVE III: You should just play them all with your game plan that you start out with, but yeah, if you're even par after the front nine, you think you've lost something, and if you're even par on the back, you think you did pretty good.

You don't want to think too much that way. I certainly -- last year not getting off to a good start on the easy holes the first four holes cost me winning last year. You've just got to play them, but certainly if you can be consistently 2, 3-under par those easy holes, it certainly makes the back play better.

Troon is a great course, it's typical links. If the winds turns around the other way and blows in on those opening holes, you don't even know how to play them. It's something you know you have to do but you try not to think about it. You don't want to get too hung up on, uh-oh, I just parred 1 and 2, now I have to make sure I get eagle or birdie on 3 and 4. Certainly the front is easier than the back.

Q. You mentioned this course has a big tournament feel, U.S. Open, PGA. What exactly would they have to do to get this course into that kind of condition, to have a U.S. Open or a PGA here? Is it extensive?

DAVIS LOVE III: I could say something real smart-aleck about the greens, but they've got it basically. There's a couple holes they could probably narrow up a few fairways.

Gosh, I mean, the way it played today, I played early with no wind, and it played pretty tough. I don't think they'd have to do a whole lot. You could certainly back a tee up here or there or narrow the 8th fairway, a couple holes like that that are just kind of like, okay, all I've got to do is hit a 1-iron down there and I've got a little 8 or 9-iron in, a couple holes like that.

It's every bit a U.S. Open caliber golf course. The greens are going to be firm this afternoon. I don't know what they're going to do the next couple of days with them, but I don't think you'd have to do a whole lot. It's a heck of a golf course.

Q. Is it good that they just play at half a dozen to ten golf courses on the U.S. Open or should they expand it like the PGA has?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think there's -- the U.S. Open is so big now -- they say we can't play Marion because it's too short. Yeah, short on space for everything they want to do. You can still play the golf tournament there. If you want guys to shoot in the 80s, you probably don't want to play there, but you can play there. It would be a great venue for a U.S. Open.

You know, you need the Oak Hills -- you need places like this that has two or three golf courses with a lot of space. Bethpage was a step out of line, but it's awesome. It's a good, traditional, hard, big golf course that had a classic look and feel to it like they like. Certainly they're not going to a brand new Davis Love-designed golf course and break that kind of tradition, but hopefully the PGA will one day, but are there some great classic courses that they haven't been to that they could step out of line every once in a while like Bethpage? Yeah, probably. And they're doing it. San Diego, there's another one.

They did the redo, and it's a place with two courses that's classic, ocean-side, maybe not as much as Pebble Beach, but it's a classic looking big golf course now. I haven't played it since all the lengthening, but everybody says it just feels like a big U.S. Open course.

Q. Back to the PGA again, there is this perception that's sort of the minor major. I wondered if maybe you have any suggestions that the PGA might take to sort of prevent that from helping or improve its stature or if there is anything that they can do?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't think they have to do anything. If you're going to rank the four majors by all the guys that have won majors, they're all going to rank them differently. They would say the most important for one for me to win is the Masters, but it's not, and I would say the most important one for me to make me feel good at the end of my career would be the British Open. At the time I won the PGA, you know, before I won the PGA, I wouldn't have ranked that the highest, but after winning the PGA and realizing what it meant to my friends and family because my dad was a lifetime PGA member, that meant a heck of a lot.

Everybody is going to rank them different. There's still four and you've got to rank the four. Sometimes fourth out of the best four is not bad. I'm sure that Nick Price and a lot of other guys rank the PGA higher than some others. Probably the PGA is more important to Nick Price than the U.S. Open because he's not from the United States. Colin Montgomerie might think the British Open is way above everything else. The U.S. Open is the next biggest for him. Everybody has got a different feeling. They don't have to do anything. They've got to all four watch out for The Players Championship is the problem.

Q. What is it about the British Open that makes you feel so strongly about it, and how does that type of golf suit your game?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, if it's not too windy, extreme conditions, it suits my game. It's the oldest, more tradition there than any other tournament in the world. I think the biggest thing is they play -- and sure, there's been years where they've gone over the top a little bit, but they play more of a traditional style game. If they go to St. Andrews and guys shoot 15 under par, they don't worry about it. They say, hey, we played St. Andrews and it's the way everybody else played it. John Daly hit it over bunker and that's okay. Maybe we will back it up 50 yards next year or five years from now, but they let you play pretty much.

It's not as tricked up as the other three majors, and I think the players realize that, hey, it's a different type tournament and it's got a lot of history and a lot of tradition. It's probably recognized around the world more than The Masters, if that's possible, as the biggest tournament and the oldest tournament. More people probably dream of going to the Masters, but I think more people have grown up around the world seeing the Open Championship as the biggest tournament in the world.

Q. You mentioned The Players at the end of your previous response. Where does that sit now? It's about 31 years since they've played it and it's got some heritage to it. Has it become the fifth major and can we have five?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's hard. I know Tim likes five for the number of majors on all tours. Can you change? Yeah, they changed from when I was an amateur, a grand slam to a professional grand slam. Masters was the last one in.

Yeah, they had to join in and things have changed. Declaring a tournament a major, I think it has to grow into it. The more you guys say is The Players Championship a major, the more the question has to get answered.

If you looked at, all right, what's the hardest tournament to win, what has the best field, the most good players, the best venue year in and year out, which one the players like the most, which one do they feel like the most important, the Players is going to rank right up there. It's not going to be fifth. It's going to be up there if you can leave tradition out of it.

Maybe there's one tournament here and four down here, but do you want to win The Masters any less? No. But the Players is its own entity, I think. You know, there's some other tournaments like this one and Wachovia and Colonial and Arnold's tournament that have a special different feel about them than every other week. That's what's great is now we've got a bunch of them.

In Ireland this year at the American Express has a different feel than the one in some other tournaments. We're just lucky that instead of there being four big ones when I came out on Tour, now there's 10 or 12 big ones and we're arguing whether the Players is one of the best. I think it's great that it's grown that much.

TODD BUDNICK: All right, thank you for spending some time with us today, Davis.

End of FastScripts.

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