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June 9, 2004

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis Love III, thank you for joining us for a couple minutes this afternoon. Let's talk about your year so far and what you expect coming into this week at Westchester Country Club for the Buick Classic.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think I've been asking myself that question, what do you think about your year so far. I've been kind of close on a few occasions to winning, and I've been working on my swing pretty much the last month trying to get, you know, fine tuned, and I think the last few weeks I've been thinking about my swing on the golf course a little bit too much. So the goal for this week and next week is just to get out and play golf.

I feel like I'm hitting the ball good enough, putting well enough, doing everything well enough to score well but I'm not scoring. The only thing I'm really going to work on here, this is a good tune-up. You have to be very committed to everything you're doing here because if you don't hit fairways and greens and you don't play positively, this is a very, very hard golf course. That's all I'm looking for this week.

Q. Have you been out to Shinnecock at all in the previous days to this, or do you have any plans?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I'll be out there Monday. That's the first time.

Q. Say early March when we were talking, you were talking about the fact that you thought you were really close. What happened between that point and this point?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm still really close. You're hearing that from a lot of guys, that they're really close. I think you say that when you're not playing -- not scoring the way you want to but you feel like you're heading in the right direction, you know, and if I felt like I was searching I would tell you I've got to find something.

But I've had something I've been working on, and I've been pretty steady with working on the same thing all year, and I think the only difference between shooting the scores I was shooting in March on the west coast and now is just a little bit of concentration. I think I've let it slip into where -- I did it again today, thinking about my swing while I'm playing rather than playing golf and working on my swing on the range.

No different, I feel like I'm rolling it pretty good, hitting for fairways the last couple weeks. Like at Wachovia I drove it poorly, I was concentrating on hitting it better, then my irons were a little off, so it tells me that's concentration rather than mechanics.

Q. What how do benefit from playing this week rather than taking a week to prepare and going to Shinnecock?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think if I would have won two times leading up to this week and said, well, there's nothing else I can do to get ready than rest, I might have skipped this week. But I feel like I need to play if I'm not right on top of my game, which I'm not, so I need to play, turn in scores, put the pencil in your hand and they say and work on -- I want to win this week, and what I have to do to win this week is back out and play one shot at a time, get into my routines and all that.

So if I say, all right, I've got to win this week, what do have to do to get there and go through those motions this week, it'll help me for next week. Putting these greens will help. These are fast. They're very fast already. You've got the same tricky sidehill fast putts that we'll see next week, so everything about it really gets you tuned up, and if I don't play perfect I feel like I ought to play my way in.

Q. The next three Majors will be on links-style courses. What makes a good links player and do you consider yourself one of them?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, Shinnecock is "linksy," I wouldn't call it a true links. When we play over true links golf there's not nearly as much rough. This is still going to be a U.S. Open, even though it's -- all reports so far, it's the fairest U.S. Open setup we've seen in a long, long time. There's still deep rough, heavy penalties for missing fairways, probably not a lot of creativity from the deep grass outside the ropes, right on the edge of the fairways.

You can't really compare it to St. Andrews or Troon, you know, it's more U.S. Open style. But given that, it's open, wide open, a lot of wind, and a guy who is creative, hits a lot of good shots and also scrambles well will do well there.

Q. You said you're close and a lot of other guys have been close, so maybe for the first time in ten years there's a lot of guys close who claim to be No. 1 or whatever or in the hunt in terms of Tiger and Ernie and you. Would you agree with that, and why do you think that's developing?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think there was a lot of guys playing very well when David Duval was No. 1 and then Tiger was No. 1. There were a lot of guys playing very well, but those two guys seemed to get on -- they both had incredible runs and everybody just expected that they would always keep doing it. It's obvious that both of them have fallen off a little bit and everybody else -- I think Vijay and Ernie are certainly playing the best golf of anybody on Tour. I don't care what -- leave the rankings out of it. You say who do you like for this horse race this week. Well, you'd be hard pressed to past Vijay and Ernie.

So I think it just goes in cycles and guys come up-and-down, but there are, as opposed to two years ago where there were a lot of first-time winners and I think the top players are really all playing fairly well right now.

Q. You've had some chances at Shinnecock the last time so obviously you play well there. Any one or two holes that you regard as favorites?

DAVIS LOVE III: Not really any favorites. I mean, I like the whole golf course. You know, the key for me, like everybody else, is going to be to drive it in the fairway and give yourself a chance to play the golf course rather than scrambling too much. I like everything about Shinnecock. I've played there like five or six times since the last Open. I feel like I know the golf course and know the style of play it requires, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. I think if I hit fairways I'll do well.

Q. (Inaudible).

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it takes patience to break through, and Phil obviously had that and he knew I was going to win one, it was just a matter of getting out of his own way. You'll find the same thing, that they don't get any easier. You think just winning one makes it easier to win another one. They're all very, very hard to win, it's just you've got a little bit of that pressure, will I ever do it, and I'm sure he will continue his good play in majors. He's always been close, so I think that I can stay close like he has for a long time and catch another one.

Q. Do you see anybody out there now who is obviously -- is it just a mixed bag?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, y'all could probably identify somebody pretty quick here. But there's some guys that you would think have the game. We were talking about Sergio in my group today. Sergio is a guy that has the game, the creativity, the drive, the passion to be the No. 1 player. There's a whole bunch of young guys that are very, very good that certainly have the ability, like your Charles Howells and guys like that, Padraig Harringtons. There's a lot of good players out there that haven't won one, but you're right, there's a lot of them and it's hard to pin it on one guy.

Q. Can you elaborate on after winning your major, your '98 Masters was your first major. What was that like, what was the buildup like for you?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, it'll be different. As he's said a couple times, I like to hear him say -- introduced as the Masters Champion on the first tee. That will be very nice for him going into the U.S. Open as The Masters Champion. It'll certainly put more attention on him. He's the only one that can win the grand slam and all those things we get excited about at majors. He'll go in with a lot more confidence for sure. That will be the biggest thing.

Q. The whole links thing, can you just give us the definition as you see it of what makes a links course? Does it have to be by the sea?

DAVIS LOVE III: We could spend all day with that. We'd probably need to go get Ben Crenshaw (laughter). You know, does it have to be by the sea? No, Crenshaw built a great course in the middle of Nebraska, that's a links.

I think "linksland" is "dunesland," and it can be hilly, doesn't have to be flat, probably shouldn't have a whole lot of trees, but apparently Shinnecock has cut down a whole bunch of them.

But this is a links. I mean, golf is links by definition. We're playing the Westchester links. But true linksland you have to read Michael Bamberger's book to get the true meaning of what is linksland.

You look at Carnoustie or Turnberry when Greg Norman won in '86, the rough was so deep they said, well, this isn't links golf. We're not supposed to have six-inch green grass off the edge of the fairways. Links golf is playing in the wind, running the ball up, that kind of game, and it's hard to recreate that.

But Shinnecock is as close as anything in the U.S. because we do have -- it's the wind, the sea, the change of wind directions, it's all those things. I think Shinnecock plays the same for the members as it does for the U.S. Open. It always plays hard, has deep rough, but it does have a lot of that bounce-up, the neat things like rodean holes, things like that, that make up an old classic links.

End of FastScripts.

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