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September 10, 2003

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome the leading money winner on the PGA Tour so far this season, Davis Love the third. Davis, thanks for joining us. You've had a great season so far with four wins and I'm sure you've got several goals leading up to the conclusion of the season. Maybe just talk about your season thus far and talk about how successful it's been.

DAVIS LOVE III: Obviously a great year, four wins and the players championship, and obviously making the Presidents Cup team, being right there for Player of the Year, things like that, so it's been an exciting year. That's why I'm here, to continue that run for all those goals for the end of the year and to play a golf course that I haven't played. I guess this is the third or fourth year and I haven't gotten to play it, so a lot of good reasons to be here and a lot of good reasons to play hard the rest of the year.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If you could talk a little bit about the golf course. You had an opportunity to play it yesterday. It's gotten great reviews from players throughout the years. Can we get your comments on it.

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's great. It certainly has a good reputation. The golf course has gotten to be in better shape year after year, which is pretty typical of a new golf course. It's fun to play. There's a lot of holes that you'll see guys laying up on if it stays this firm, but it's a fun golf course, a tricky golf course in spots and certainly a big golf course if the wind blows. It's a very pretty, beautiful piece of land, and we're certainly excited -- every time we came around the corner to a new hole it was fun to see what D. A. did. It was a fun round yesterday.

It's always a pleasure to play a new golf course, especially when you've got anticipation because everybody says it's a good golf course. Sometimes when they say you're not going to like the course, you kind of dread playing a practice round because you don't want to see it. But the players have liked it so much, it was fun to play yesterday and I'm looking forward to another day today to figure out how to play some of the holes.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You touched on the Presidents Cup earlier. This will be your fifth opportunity to play for the U.S. Talk about playing for the Presidents Cup this year in South Africa should be a great experience.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's going to be a great trip. A lot of guys are probably going to stay for two weeks. It's a big trip for November. Jack Nicklaus has certainly made an effort to make it fun for us and give us some opportunities to see the country while we're down there.

The guys are a little bit more motivated this time than when we went to Australia. They want to win for Jack and want to win away from home. That will be a fun trip. We've got Jeff Sluman going as assistant captain, so it's going to be a fun group.

Q. Getting back to the course, Davis, what had you heard about this layout prior to coming here and what -- had D. A. talked to you at all about it?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, D. A. talked to me a lot about it and wanted me to come and play. I was on the board when the Tour was building the golf course in the planning stages, construction and the trials and tribulations of building a golf course. I've seen a lot about it, heard a lot about it, but just because of my schedule I haven't been able to come and play. But the reports from the players are everybody likes it.

You know, it's not the hardest course in the world, which is a challenge now. Everybody wants to build golf courses hard. D. A. just built a golf course that fit the land and made a good routing on a hilly piece of property and made it playable for the whole golf season.

I know it's not year-roundup here, but he made it playable for everybody, not just a hard golf course for Tour players. You see some low scores, but if you eliminate low scores on a golf course, that means it's unfair and then the members don't enjoy playing it. I think he's got a good balance here. It's certainly, like I said, a fun golf course to play. It's good from all different tee boxes. There's some big holes out there, but you can run the tee up and there's places to play around the trouble. I think it's a very fair golf course.

Q. Does it suit any particular style of game this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: One day of experience, I don't know. I think if it's firm and fast, it'll certainly be a lot like what we're used to, the guy that's chipping and putting and hitting a lot of fairways will do real well. I can't see anything that jumps out at me. Pretty big fairways -- well, there's some narrow holes but some pretty big fairways, so long hitters and good putters are going to do well here.

Q. Is it a situation now, you've seen a field really jump up in stature with the September dates. Do you see this as a tournament that can prosper in front of the British Open and draw a field such as this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: Not a week before the British Open I don't think. The better the golf course gets and obviously with John Deere as a sponsor the field it going to get better and better no matter when it is. The week before the British, the week before the U.S. Open or the week after just limits you for the top players. It's a tough week, not that you can't overcome that with doing special things, but you're not going to get a Players Championship field the week before the British Open. It's very, very hard.

Q. Davis, this tournament a few years ago was kind of on a faint pulse until John Deere stepped in. Obviously the Texas Open, Valero stepped in. Do the tour players take a look at those kind of events? Do you find yourself rooting for certain events? What are your thoughts about those kind of situations?

DAVIS LOVE III: We do root for them. They don't want to lose a tournament like here in quad cities that's been around for a long, long time. The community is 100 percent behind it, and just because it's a smaller town and the economy is bad, we don't want to see them lose their golf tournament.

There's a lot of other cities that have more of a base like Charlotte popped up this year. There's some other cities that are clamoring for a golf tournament, so at the same time you're pulling for the Texas Open, you know that Seattle is ready, Twin Cities is ready.

There's a lot of places that are ready for a golf tournament and can put together a package similar to Charlotte and say we'll get a sponsor and a golf course, just give us a week to play. Our problem is we have too many tournaments now. We have opposite events and we have a tournament opposite the British Open and a tournament opposite some of our World Golf Championship events, so we need to -- everybody needs to understand that there's an awful lot of golf tournaments and eventually we're going to -- in this economy and in this state of the game, everybody just wants to see the top players. We probably are going to lose some tournaments in smaller markets because the top ten players probably aren't going to go to these smaller towns and smaller tournaments. I think the sponsors are starting to realize that.

Q. Do you have a relationship with Deere? I understand in your golf architecture business you --

DAVIS LOVE III: We have just a good working relationship with them. I don't know what the term would be. They're a friend of ours in the golf course design business, and we certainly -- I met one of the Deere guys last night and said I'm a good customer. I have four John Deere tractors myself, and we also rent, lease a lot of equipment from their suppliers all over the country when we're building golf courses.

Then we're trying to obviously promote them as a -- because of their being an official equipment supplier for the Tour promote them at our golf courses, as well. When they're finished we don't really have control of what the greens superintendent buys but we certainly try and set up a relationship for the club, the greens superintendent with Deere, and that's kind of our relationship.

Q. Was that a factor in your coming here?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, not really. I've wanted to come here even before Deere, but certainly being a John Deere tractor fan, I wanted to come here since they jumped in. It's not just this golf tournament. They're basically a PGA Tour partner. Every one of our TPC clubs has Deere equipment and they're a big part of the PGA Tour, so we wanted to support that, but as I said, the schedule just wouldn't allow it, but certainly when I have the opportunity, it's nice to be able to do it, but I'm here to play, to win, and further my goals for the year first of all, and then second of all, try and get out of town without buying a tractor (laughter).

Q. Could you use the little garden tractor that they've got for the winter?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I don't need one that little. I need those ones on the drive in, those big ones (laughter).

Q. Did you get to go out to the event last night and do some driving?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I didn't go. We teed off about 1:15 yesterday for practice rounds, so we were out playing until kind of late, but like I said, I have to get on that stuff sometimes, I don't have a choice, and I have to use my tractors and watch them go on golf courses. As Pete Dye says, if I want to be a golf course architect I've got to drive the tractors or I won't lose anything, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to push dirt.

Q. What does Player of the Year mean to you this year?

AVIS LOVE: It's a big goal. It was a goal at the beginning of the year, win the money title, Player of the Year, things like that, are what keeps you motivated. I needed to win some golf tournaments and get back to where I felt like I was supposed to be. Player of the Year is a vote. I know some things I could control and play hard four or five times the rest of the year and try to win the money title, and with Vijay and Tiger and some other guys, Mike Weir, right up there, I'm going to have to probably win another tournament or two. I'm real focused on that. Winning Player of the Year would be certainly a thrill for me.

Q. How have you been able to -- you've had a lot of distractions off the golf course this year. How have you been able to maintain the year that you started?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've just been real focused on playing golf this year, working hard. I have a lot of support from my family and friends at home. It's a team effort in any support. It doesn't look like it in golf because we're out there by ourselves or with our caddies, but if you don't have support from your family or your friends and in my case people back in the office, if they're hounding me about building golf courses and worrying me about business things, then I won't play as well, so I've had great support from everybody at home, and other people have taken on some responsibilities in our family situations that have helped me stay out here and play golf. I certainly appreciate the support from home, but when I come to play golf, I come to play golf. If I didn't feel like I could play good this week, I wouldn't be here. If my back starts hurting, I've got responsibilities at home.

My daughter is in a big horse show this week and next week. I'm here to play, and I can separate the two pretty easily, it's just once I make the decision to do it, I'm going to come and do it. Like I said, unless I'm hurt, I'm going to play hard the rest of the year.

Q. Is the back okay?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I'm feeling great. I've been 80, 90 percent all year, which is a lot better than last year. I didn't feel great at the International, but I know that the situation I'm in, I know when to push myself and when not to, and I can play good not feeling 100 percent, and I've just got to not overpractice. I wore myself out one time this year and it cost me playing good at the U.S. Open and then I bounced back from it after some time off, so I know my limits and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Q. Everything said then, with what's been going on off the course, does that make your accomplishments on the course this year that much more exciting for you?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it's been maybe a little bit more business-like for me, which maybe has helped because of all the attention of playing well, but it is satisfying that I have been playing well and that I come out like yesterday after a couple weeks off and just three or four days of practice and hit the ball good, that I've worked hard and put myself in a position where I'm swinging as good as I've ever hit the ball and that I'm real confident in my game no matter what's going on. It's satisfying. I'm not jumping up-and-down every day saying this is so much fun. I'm real focused, I think, this year.

Pretty much I'm happy to not only things going on off the course but things going on on the course. It's a distraction when you're running at the top. I learned that in '92 and a few other years, '96, '97, when I was really playing well, that you can get distracted pretty easily from doing the things you have to do, so I wanted to manage my time a little bit better. I think that's helped this year. I'm doing what's best for me to play golf most of the time.

Q. More distractions, but it's worth it, isn't it?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's definitely worth it, but you're not going to -- you know, if you're spending two or three hours a day telling people how good you're playing, whether it's on TV shows or radio shows or doing more outings or things like that, you're not going to continue to play well. It's a balancing act of getting done what you have to get done and taking care of responsibilities away from the course. I think the experience of being out here this long, I've learned to get your practicing and playing done and then the rest will take care of itself.

Q. Switching gears a little bit, can you shed a little light on what it's like, how life changes after you win a major? We had Micheel and Curtis come in here and then Curtis dropped out just because of commitments. Does it just become a whole overwhelming tension?

DAVIS LOVE III: It does. That's why I was talking about my experience of being out here long enough and having some success, it overwhelms you, the attention. So many people would like you to talk because you're the Open champion or you're the PGA champion and you want to satisfy those requests and you end up wearing yourself down.

In Ben's case he was probably committed to every tournament the whole year hoping he would get in some. Now he's in every one of them and he's the guy that they're excited to have. He had to withdraw from some of them or he'd go crazy by the end of the year. It's overwhelming. If Tiger Woods wins another championship it's another win, it's what he's supposed to do, but if a guy wins his first major, it's a little bit overwhelming for them to deal with. Like you said before, it's a nice problem to have, but you have to learn how to deal with it. Some people react well and some people don't.

Q. A lot of buzz this week about the field and the quality of the strength at the top of the list. J.P. Hayes shoots a 22 under here last year. Does the strength keep -- I guess my question is can people expect to see the big names at the top?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think you tend to think that the better the field or the bigger names you have, the lower the scores are going to be, and that's usually not the case. You see the course record here is 61 by J. P. A lot of guys have shot a lot of low scores in this tournament. That's the goal is to shoot the score to win. It's not really worry about what names you're going to have to beat.

There's a lot of guys in this field that can shoot 20, 25 under par if they get hot. I know coming in just because I'm number one on the money list doesn't mean I have a two-stroke advantage over everybody. I still have to go out and play the golf course and make a lot of birdies.

I can come out here and play real really, really good and shoot 2, 3-under a day and not have a chance. Don't get your hopes up that it's going to be the top five ranks players at the top of the leaderboard. I don't think it's going to happen, but hopefully one of us will be up there. As the John Deere people said we hope you win so you have to come back next year. That's the goal is to win and be back, but I wouldn't be surprised to see quite a mix up there at the top.

Q. Will you come back next year if you win?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Q. Even the week in front of the British Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, maybe get out of a couple commitments, maybe even come back if I don't win, but I'd like to be defending certainly. It would be fun to do it a bunch next year.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis Love, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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