Q. How come Mark is on the bag this week?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's just his one week of the year. We always tease him that it's the shortest, flattest golf course on TOUR to walk. So if he's going to do one, he might as well do it here.
He caddied for a long time. He got me through a lot of years and we had a lot of success. He won here with me '92 and maybe one other time. It's just close to home, a lot of friends and family. We had a ton of people up here. It's just a good week for him to be out.
Credit to my caddie, John Burke for willingly giving up a week. For a guy that's working for a living, it's hard to give up a week, especially when I pop up and win, but he's understood that Mark got me where I am through basically the middle of my career and he's happy -- he'll give him a hard time about stealing a win from him.
Q. Talk about your mental process in the middle of the round where it looked like Els did have the tournament in his pocket for some time?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, he really did. I birdied 9 and was 12-under and in position, really to, play a good back nine and win the tournament. But then I hit my bad tee shot at 10 and hit it in the lake. I said after I had finished the hole, I said, "You know what? It's probably been 10 years since I've hit it in that lake." Just extremely disappointed when I was driving the ball well, hitting right down the middle of every fairway, to hit a drive like that. That was very disappointing.
Then I went back to 11 and then I had a beautiful tee shot at 11, had mud on my ball and hit a 9-iron and it hooked in the bunker and I had no shot and hit it about 30 feet. I said, "You know what? If you're going to win this golf tournament, you're going to have to make a 30-footer so you might as well make this one." I made that putt and made a nice birdie at 13 and got myself back in the tournament.
You know, after that, I didn't give myself enough short birdie putts to finish it off, but the middle of the round, I hung in there. I never got frustrated, never got upset. Gave myself a chance. You never know what's going to happen. As I said, it's tricky around here. You never know. Certainly you don't expect a player like Ernie Els to finish like that. But, that's why Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and the great players win a lot of tournaments, because they are there a bunch and I've had my share of tournaments that I've let slip away from me so it's nice to be hanging around and grab the chance when you get it.
Q. On the back nine, was there any point where you felt like you didn't have a chance to win?
DAVIS LOVE III: I kept playing. I figured Ernie had made a bunch of birdies and it was going to be hard for him to make two or three more coming in once he had gotten the lead and the guys chasing him were still going to be chasing him. I just felt like I had to birdie. In fact, after I parred 11, I said I'm going to birdie every hole coming in. I only hit it close once after that, maybe twice after that.
That was my attitude: That, you know I've just got to try to birdie every hole because I don't know what's going to happen. In fact, somebody yelled out of the gallery, "You're in the lead," which I don't think was right. I said, look, "I'm not keeping score for anybody but Woody Austin" and I just kept on going and just tried to birdie my holes and play my golf ball. It was a struggle. I mean, I hit a bad tee shot at 15 that kept me from having an easy third shot in and I had to get it up-and-down there. I had to get it up-and-down at 17 and, hey, you never know. It didn't look like I was going to win the golf tournament when I was in that left bunker on 17 in regulation. Just the perseverance of trying to get the most out of it every hole. I walked up there and didn't even -- I started to look at the leaderboard at 18 in regulation and I started my head looking over there, I said, "no, don't even look, just go chip it in." When I chipped it in and looked over and realized Woody, if he made par, we would tie but I don't think I would have chipped it in knowing I was behind.
Q. How much harder would it have been there to hang in there than from say, Pebble, your first win in over a year?
DAVIS LOVE III: If I had not won since Pebble it would have been a little harder. This tournament was a lot like Pebble. I was not 100% sharp and didn't hit -- I drove it pretty good except for a couple of drives but just wasn't as sharp with the irons as I have been. Maybe being a little too creative with the irons instead of just hitting them. It would have been harder, for sure to grind it out.
Q. You mentioned '92 and the run you were on then. How does this compare to that time; were you better and is this better than that was?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you look back, you think you were always better. I think I drive the ball much better than then and I putt better, but it seemed like I was on a roll a little more with my iron game. When I was playing pretty much every week like at THE PLAYERS, if I putted decent I was going to win. I think now I'm putting more consistently and when the ball-striking is right on, like it was at THE PLAYERS, I could win in any field and when it's a little scratchy like it was over the weekend, I can still hang in there better. I think I'm a more patient player.
But that was an awfully good streak for me, like L.A., all the way through Greensboro.
Q. Do you still have all the jackets at home?
DAVIS LOVE III: You know, it's funny, I saw in the corner of my closet, I saw a bunch of them before I went to the Masters and I was thinking -- you know, I'll come back here and I'll give this jacket back to Steve Wilmont, it says, (looking inside jacket), and I am coming back and they will give me one and I'll come back next year and I'll forget it and they will give me one to wear at the ceremony and I'll end up with that and I literally have a bunch of them at home, more than four, for sure. (Laughter.) When you shoot the Canon off, you have to have the jacket.
I was wondering how much green it would take, how much it would take to get a green jacket, to get one to wear to the Masters. Obviously I'm thinking too much about the Masters, but I do have a few of them.
Q. What is the range of sizes?
DAVIS LOVE III: They are all the same size. The pants are tighter but they are still the same size.
Q. We were talking about the jackets earlier in the week. You said on Sunday you pick a shirt that either goes with the jacket or against the jacket. Which one is it?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's definitely against. (Lime green) My wife picked this shirt out because she said it was Easter and she said it was a good shirt for Easter. I guess contrasting worked.
Q. Was there a time-out there where the so-called home-court advantage here really helped you?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the fans were great, obviously. They are always pulling for me.
But, you know, I want to say that I usually have an advantage on these greens, but this week, they frustrated me. I didn't read them as good. I didn't get a good pace on them. I made some nice putts today but overall for the week, I didn't -- I never really got a great feel for the greens. Even that putt -- I missed them one of the times around on 18 when I chipped up and missed it, missed the putt, I didn't get it hard enough downhill and that was -- I was just a little off with the greens. So I don't know if the home court -- but I think my confidence coming in definitely was what got me through.
Q. What do you say about this community that pulled together to keep this tournament alive?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's great. I know behind the scenes, MCI was working hard to get back in and the Foundation was working hard. But the community really is what the golf tournament is all about. That's why a sponsor like MCI wants to come back because they see their community working so hard and what it does for the community.
Not only Hilton Head and Bluffton and this area, but the whole low country really supports this tournament and it's popular all the way down to obviously where I live. We bring a lot of people up here. It's great to see this tournament survive because it does have a tradition that a lot of tournaments don't have, and I think that MCI recognizes that.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis, congratulations.
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