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March 28, 2004

Davis Love III


Q. Talk about your round today and finishing up as defending champion.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, sorry that it's over. Like I said yesterday, I made too many 5s. I've never seen so many 5s on the scorecard. I think I had seven of them today.

So I didn't play great, but I hung in there all week and enjoyed putting these fast greens, getting ready for Augusta. These are as fast as I've ever seen these greens. It was a good test. I think I'm ready to go challenge at Augusta now.

Q. How would you assess your game and your back?

DAVIS LOVE III: My back will be all right. I'd say I'm a little tentative with my irons. I'm driving it right down the middle and not hitting it close enough. I hit a lot of good drives. I hit some bad ones, but I hit some good ones. But not good enough 6-, 7-, 8-irons. At Augusta that's going to be important. You don't have to hit them right by the hole but right where you're aiming them.

Q. How much satisfaction do you take getting back to even par in the tournament amount after the way you started?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think my teacher, Jack Lumpkin, said it best. He called me last night. "At least you hung in there and you got to play the weekend. You don't want to go to Augusta missing the cut and not playing in Atlanta." I got to play, I got to test my game, I got to play the fast greens. I think it was important to have a little bit of confidence going for Augusta, rather than having two bad days and being out of there.

Q. Atlanta you talked about being close. Do you feel that way going in?

DAVIS LOVE III: I feel that way. When I relax, I hit good shots. I hit a lot of good shots. I hit a lot of good putts almost like when things started going bad, and I said, well, I've just got to get back in my routine and concentrate. Then things would start going well. I made three putts coming in and was 3-under the last three. So I've got to relax and play and maybe get away from being defending, and hopefully feeling better the next week I'll relax and just go back to playing.

Q. There's a lot of talks about changes at Augusta. Obviously Mike's winning opened it up mentally so people feel like they can win there, and makes it more wide open?

DAVIS LOVE III: I wouldn't say Mike's short. He's above average. But Mike's a very good putter, he's a steady player, and that always does well in majors. I think you know you -- if it gets firm and fast, it certainly lets more guys like him in that are good with the short game and have adequate length. But if it's long and wet, and which they say it's going to rain the first part of next week, if it's long and wet, the long hitters will still have an advantage, no matter who wins.

Q. Where does controlling the distance and the spin with your wedges and the scoring clubs at Augusta, where does that rank? How high up the list is that?

DAVIS LOVE III: You mean like 100 yards up-and-in stuff or full shots?

Q. The full swings with any of the scoring clubs, with any 9-irons or --

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's real important on the par-5s now, whereas it used to be you were either on the green or getting up-and-down, now it's more you have to hit wedges in. You're not going to get a whole lot of wedges in -- we used to hit a lot of wedges into 17, but we don't do that anymore. It's important, because the par-5s, you have to play them the old-fashioned way, laying up and hitting the wedge close. And it becomes important, not only the shot you hit in there, but the shot you hit to get the right number to hit the shot in. Getting up-and-down, whether it's 100 yards for 4 or 100 yards for 5 on a par-5, it's going to be important.

Q. Did the back improve every day of the week or did it hit a lull?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's gotten better. I think I'll be -- I'll going to see Tom Morris tonight and take it easy for a few days, and then if it rains like they say it's going to rain, when it rains I'll take it easy and I'll be fine by the weekend.

Q. Any particular kinds of shots or anything as you prepare for Augusta that you'll work on that you really want to make sure that --

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm going to prepare a lot from the 9-iron to the 5-iron, because that's not what I'm hitting good right now. So that's the main thing. I'm excited about the way I'm driving it. Again, if I get to feeling 10 or 20 percent better by then, I'm going to be driving it as good as I can hit it. The most important thing, like I said, is to hit iron shots where you want them, 20 feet right of the hole or 20 feet short of the hole. You have to be precise. I don't want to go in there figuring out my iron game.

That's the biggest thing this week is practicing on distance control but more in the middle irons than in the short clubs.

Q. I don't know if there's a particular shape to them, as well?

DAVIS LOVE III: Not really. You have to cut a few, you have to draw a few. I don't really worry about that.

Q. Is there more or less decision making to make on the par-5s in Augusta because of the changes? Does it become more automatic stuff, automatic layup or --

DAVIS LOVE III: No, you still try to drive it down there, and if you get it to a certain spot you go, and if you don't, you say, all right, it's a different game now, I can lay up, but a lot of guys are laying up. So that's where I am.

End of FastScripts.

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