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February 29, 2004

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis Love III, thanks for joining us. Great match today with Tiger, put on a great display of golf. Let's get some opening comments. Probably disappointing, but still a great day overall and a great week.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I'm disappointed, obviously, like I said yesterday, we're both going to be tired and not play great for 36 holes, but he was missing fairways and I was hitting it great in the first match, the first round, and really the only one he hit was 18, and I lost that hole to him.

I felt like I should have been 2 or 3 up and I was only 1 up, and then he made a nice putt on the 19th hole, and then I bogeyed the 20th, and then I gave him a tie at the 21st. I just let him get away when I had him. It's unfortunate because I don't think in a round of golf, or two rounds of golf as it was today, I've ever driven it in such a perfect position on every hole and been swinging that good and not pulled it off.

I can see if I was driving all over the place, letting him get away, but I had him right where I wanted him. He's going to beat you if you make a mistake. Obviously, at the turn he went out there and figured out how to hit fairways. He came out making a little bit different move with his driver and his 3-wood and he got it in play and had a couple birdies on the back nine in the second round and got ahead and that's right where he wanted to be, and he's tough to beat once he gets ahead.

Q. Did you come away from the morning a little bit deflated because you hit the ball so well and you were only 1 up?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I wasn't deflated. I felt like if I could keep doing that, all I had to do was keep it up. I didn't putt as good in the second round. They mowed the greens, and I never really got back on pace with my putter. I hit a lot of bad putts, and I kept knocking them either hitting them too hard, long putts through the break, or not hitting them hard enough on the short putts. I was a lot disappointed with my putting in the afternoon.

No, I was feeling good. I still had one really bad drive. I pulled it on 5, which I've done several times -- or was it 6?

Q. 6.

DAVIS LOVE III: I've done that a lot. Two bad drives on that hole and a bad drive on 9, all day long, so I was in position to do what I had to do, I just didn't do it. I never got deflated or tired or upset, I just didn't do it, and he hung in there until he started making a couple putts.

Q. The flipside of you not making putts is Tiger -- the count I have is Tiger from four feet or longer, just kept making those type of putts. He made 12.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, he putted better today than what I've been hearing and seeing. They said he wasn't making a whole lot of putts. He was just playing pretty good. He made the ones he had to make, and I didn't, basically, is what it comes down to in the afternoon because we both hit a lot of fairways in the afternoon.

Q. Could you relate what happened on the tee box on 5 for us?

DAVIS LOVE III: Just another one of those fans that doesn't respect the game. He had started off the afternoon round heckling. I actually thought on the par 5 somebody had gotten to him, but then he did it again on 5. And actually, he had done it four or five times. You know, I don't care if I win or lose, you've got to respect the game and you've got to respect the players in the game. He didn't deserve to watch golf. Once we narrowed down where he was, they got rid of him.

You know you're going to have to play a great player, you know you're going to have the fans against you, but when they're heckling against you, it becomes very difficult to concentrate so we had to get rid of him.

Q. Could you go into -- it seemed on TV that he said "no Love, no love," and I wonder, you did not win a hole after that. Did that affect you at all mentally or were you able to shake it?

DAVIS LOVE III: It definitely affected me on 11 because he did it -- you know, the second time around, obviously. He did it when I was preparing to hit shots. But like I said, I thought somebody had gotten to him for a hole or two there.

Q. When you say 11, do you really mean 3? Because he would have been gone by 11.

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm calling them the old number holes. No. 2. Every time I get to 9, I feel like I'm done (laughter). The second hole we played this afternoon.

Q. Along those lines, too, I think I heard you say on TV, "I'm not leaving here until I find out who it is." Would you have stood your ground?

DAVIS LOVE III: I wasn't going to play anymore until somebody got kicked out, because he had already cost me a hole. I mean, I hit awful shots at 2. You know, I wasn't going to put up with it. I want to win and I want to play and I want to play fair. If his fans are pulling for him, I'm used to that. I've played with Fred Couples. Freddie is just as popular in California as Tiger Woods, but you can't have people picking on you.

I can hear the voices of the people that are pulling for me above the crowd and I can hear the voices of the people who are heckling me above the crowd, but he was timing it just right. You don't have to like me and you don't have to pull for me, but respect me to play the game. The fans shouldn't have an outcome on the game, and for some reason they're starting to think they can.

Q. Did you mean, time it just right when you were --

DAVIS LOVE III: No, right when I was walking up to the ball he would say it.

Q. In a situation like that, what's Tiger's reaction? Is he sympathetic?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, he's used to it more than the rest of us because he's used to the atmosphere he plays in. He said, take your time and get back into it and don't -- and then he gave me that putt at the par 3 after I had run it by maybe a foot and a half coming back down the hill. He could have made me putt it, but he said, "Come on, let's go." He understands. He deals with that stuff all day. People taking pictures and people moving and people yelling, so he knows what it's like.

Q. A couple holes later on No. 7, I believe, Tiger was over in the trees, you were in the fairway. He stuffed it in there tight. Did you catch a little flyer out of -- I think you were in the first cut. It went just a little bit long and he knocked it in. Was that a big momentum hole there?

DAVIS LOVE III: I had to chip, and he was going to make the putt whether I made the chip or not. That was an important one, but I still go back to the par 5s. If I birdie the par 5s from where I drove it, if I birdie them every time like I'm supposed to with an iron and little things like that that happen, it wouldn't have had as much of an effect.

The 11th hole, twice I hit a 5 and a 6-iron in and didn't hit it close, didn't get it up-and-down, didn't two-putt, and that just kills you. I gave him basically a win when I should have won a hole one time, and then I gave him a tie when I should have won the hole. Keep doing that, he's going to beat you. He just didn't make any mistakes. He's going to hit it out of the trees close and make a birdie every once in a while. He's going to do the spectacular. You just have to do your job and play your game, and I really didn't play my game today as well as I had been the days before.

Q. You said he cost you a hole. What hole was that and what was it? Just not being able to get back into concentration?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the second hole in the afternoon he rattled me on that hole, which was his intent. I was determined to come back, and I had some chances at the next two holes to come back from it, but I didn't make the putts, but that's neither here nor there.

Q. Was it just one man?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, just one guy.

Q. You've been around the game -- you're 40 years old. You've played the Tour for a long time. A lot of us think it's the Tiger effect. Since he joined the Tour, this new group of golf fan has come on who doesn't respect the game or doesn't have any etiquette. Have you noticed it that way? I noticed it down at the Masters around 92, 93, before Tiger. They got Ian Woosnam pretty good Sunday afternoon. Have you noticed a great change and can you remember when it came?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't remember when it came, but I don't think it's just golf. I think it's our whole society. They don't respect what other people do, don't respect your elders, don't respect other people's space, don't respect traditions or etiquette or customs. You see it in every sport, you see it walking down the street, not holding the door open for a lady when you're supposed to. It's what President Bush is fighting for, you know, traditions and etiquette and being good people.

It doesn't matter if Tiger, John Daly, Fred Couples, anybody gets people excited, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus. People get excited to watch them play, but you've got to respect the person first and then you've got to respect the game and then respect how hard it is to play the game, and let people play.

I heard it five times this week, people say, "Do you want a beer" when I'm walking through the ropes. I don't drink beer when I'm out at dinner, like last night. I don't need a beer when I just birdied a hole or when I just bogeyed a hole. People just assume that we're out here screwing around, and we're not screwing around, we're playing hard. I played however many guys I played, a bunch of great players this week. It's hard work, and I don't come into your office and screw you up. Don't come in my office and screw me up.

Q. Was fatigue ever a factor?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I feel good. I'll probably sleep good on the plane going home, but I feel good. I hit the ball good. You saw how I hit the ball pretty much right down the middle all day long. I'm thrilled with the way I held up physically. I didn't finish off the par 5s and didn't make enough putts.

Q. I wonder if you could give us some perspective on 12 straight match play victories for Tiger. How difficult is that as a player?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's extremely difficult. He's obviously the best at what he does, and that shows even more in match play. I heard him saying when we finished that sometimes it takes 54 holes to get to a one-on-one thing, and that's where he likes it. He likes it narrowed down where he knows who he's got to beat. He's an incredible match play player, and he proved that in U.S. Amateurs and U.S. Juniors, and I saw it in the Ryder Cup and I hope I see it again in the Ryder Cup this year firsthand. He can play the game no matter what rules you put out there, but he's a very good match play player.

Q. You were 2 up on the 18th tee in the morning, 3 down on the 10th tee in the afternoon. How should we break down what happened there? Were you mentally affected by what happened so much on the front nine?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, one hole maybe, so that's just -- like I said, that's just one hole. You know, I'm more disappointed that I didn't birdie 18 the first time around, I didn't birdie 3 the second time around or the first time around. That's what got me. I just didn't finish holes off when I had a chance, didn't hit the ball close enough to the hole, didn't make enough putts.

You know, I was close to playing really good every day, and today I wasn't that close. I didn't play as good today as I did yesterday, or when I got in a situation where I needed to get it up-and-down or hit a 6-iron close on a par 5 or make a putt, I just didn't do it, didn't finish it today. What's the difference, I don't know.

Q. You made, I think, three bombs for birdies in the morning, but you had four putts inside of about 10 feet that you didn't make. I'm just curious if you noticed that.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I noticed they weren't going in (laughter). I walked up on the first green in the afternoon, they said they've mowed the greens, and I left it a little bit short. I putted around like I've been doing all week trying to get the feel of them, and I was obviously not as free with my stroke as I was the first time around. I got a little bit tighter and didn't hit them as good.

I kept feeling like I was going through my routine, I kept feeling like I was hitting them, but one would go by and one would come up short. I think sometimes when a match gets tighter and you get more nervous, you don't get as free and you don't hit them as solid or you hit them too solid, I don't know. I felt like I was going to make some and I just never did.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis Love III, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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