home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


March 30, 2003

Davis Love III


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations, Davis, on winning your second title of THE PLAYERS Championship. Excellent round today, 64 in some windy conditions, 31 on the back along with a gutsy shot on No. 16 for an eagle.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. It was obviously an incredible round of golf. You know, I don't know where to start, but I'm just as thrilled as I can be. As I've been saying, between 18th green and here, the interviews, this tournament has grown a lot in 11 years. It was important to win in '92, and I felt it then, and I think now it's made it even harder for me to win because I have a much better appreciation for how important this is to the players and the game of golf. It's a very rewarding win. If that's what the back nine of a major championship feels like with a lead, at least I know how it feels now. It was an eery feeling to grab the lead and have to play that nine holes of golf in those conditions was very nerve-rattling, especially 17, which they still need to fix. (Laughter).

It was a heck of a day, and honestly I don't know where to start. Six birdies and an eagle in those conditions were not what anybody was expecting. It was my best job of hanging in there and doing the things that I do well for 18 holes. I don't think I've ever done a better job.

Q. Is that maybe the greatest round of golf you've ever played? Best, I mean?

DAVIS LOVE III: Freddie started it all off down there. You know, I shot 62 at Greensboro in pretty bad conditions. I had a hole-out and made a bunch of putts -not to take anything away from Greensboro - but this round of golf, yeah, I'll remember it the rest of my life because it's something I've been building up to the last few months. You know, it was definitely one of the biggest challenges of my career because I certainly didn't need another near miss and I had to hang in there. I needed to go play a good round of golf. I said it yesterday a couple times, I said I'm putting good, they're just not going in yet. I'm complimenting Craig Perks because his were going in but I was jealous because mine weren't. Today I made one at the 3rd hole for par for confidence, and I said I'm going to make them all today. I had really my best attitude I've had in a long time.

Q. How does this stack up to Winged Foot?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's right up there with it. Not to take anything away from a PGA or Winged Foot, but that's as nervous as I've ever been. I was trying to win a golf tournament after not winning for a while, but there was a lot of excitement and anxiousness out there that was heightened by the win and the cold and the competition and playing with Freddie. Compared to Winged Foot, Winged Foot was very, very special, and so is this. I don't know if you could compare them, but I certainly played very consistent at Winged Foot. I didn't have a blow it out of the water round like today. I was looking at my stats this morning, and there was this joke the other day or maybe yesterday, the only stat I improved was the sand saves, and I got my one up and down today and I improved on that even today.

I've been building up for this and been improving. I'd say it's close to equal footing with Winged Foot.

Q. Everyone made such a big deal all week about the weather today. How big of an effect did it have on you?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I didn't let it affect me, I guess. I was nervous about it for sure because we saw the rain. Obviously I sat in the parking lot all morning and watched it rain. I knew it was softening up and going to be a squishy mudball kind of day, and then combine that with the amount of wind and cooler temperatures, which we've been spoiled, gotten used to the warm weather since we hit Florida. It was a big change, a blustery day and certainly not the kind of day you wanted to play the 17th and 18th holes in. It affected me but I tried not to let it affect me.

Q. You said, Davis, and obviously we've written about it, I certainly didn't need another near-miss. Is that just in the last few years you're thinking about that space of '98 until you won at Pebble in 2001 that there had been too many things that you thought you should have won and didn't get there?

DAVIS LOVE III: Probably '84 in college all the way through. Certainly every player out here can do it, whether it's the No. 1 player in the world, a guy trying to get his card. There are what-ifs and if-onlys. As I said, I've been building up to this. I started the year determined to play better and to feel better, and I don't know if I'm feeling better because I decided I was going to feel better or if I just finally got over it. I was ready for improvement. I've had a lot of times when I didn't pull it off and I just didn't -- I wasn't going to let that happen again today. Now, I didn't plan on shooting 64, don't get me wrong, but I was planning on doing the best job I could do. I was putting all the thoughts into why I didn't win at Mirasol or why I didn't win here or there and put them behind me and just played golf. It helped to play with Fred, it helped to play on a course you've won on before and you like, but I did my best job ever of putting it behind me.

Q. Can you tell us about the second shot on 16?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. I hit only really two bad shots, 12 tee with a 3-wood and 16 with a 3-wood, but I joked even in the practice round and every time I hit it in the right rough at 16 that you're better off in the left trees than in the right rough. I hit it and thought oh, gosh, here we go. As long as you're not up against a tree you are better off over there. I've seen a couple of guys hit it there and have an easy layup. It's almost impossible to get a good layup out of that right rough. You can't get it where you want it for your third shot. When I saw it laying over there clean without a tree in the way, I knew I could knock it on the green, and that was really the only good break I got today, I guess, was a lucky break. I got a lot of putts that broke in the hole, but the only real lucky break I got was I wasn't up against a tree or a weed or anything like that. It was a straight 6-iron, 197. It really wasn't a very difficult shot except for the fact that there was a big lake on the right and you had to miss that, but other than that it was a straight downwind 6-iron.

Q. Davis, were you aware or remembering in anyway Fred's scores in '96 and did you consciously want to birdie 17 and 18 to try to break that or did Freddie mention it at all?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. I could see him over there talking to Mark Ralfing on 17 tee and I thought I wonder what he's telling him there. I wasn't worrying about the score and I was trying as hard as I could not to look at the score board, but I challenged myself on the front nine coming off nine that it would have nice to have a five-shot lead with two to play, and when I got on 17 green after I putted my putt up there, I was waiting on Freddie, I started looking at the leader board real hard adding it up and saw that I did have a five-shot lead. That was really -- I really stayed away from thinking about the score. Obviously with both mechanical and the manned leaderboards it's hard to miss them, but I was trying not to look at what Jay was doing or what Padraig was doing, trying to stay focused on what I was doing, playing each shot and picking targets and not worrying about the score, but shoot, I was just trying to win. I would have taken double bogey, double bogey if that's what it took to win on those last two holes. I wasn't certainly trying to beat Fred's numbers.

Q. Davis, you said you were trying to put Mirasol and negative thoughts behind you. Was that tying in with that, not thinking about the score? How were you able to do those things?

DAVIS LOVE III: Both Rotella and Gio Valiante sitting there talking to me about the things that I do well and the things that Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods or Ernie Els or whatever the great champions do well, get it to the target and just hit golf shots and play one shot at a time. Golf is the most boring thing you've ever heard, coming there and saying I played one shot at a time. Tiger Woods does it. He plays one golf shot and one target at a time. Jack Nicklaus said he never hit a shot that wasn't the most important shot he ever hit. Did he do that? He thought he did it. He never wasted a shot mentally. You know, learning from players in the past, I said it outside, I'm still learning. I'm learning every way I can and trying to take from Fred Couples right on down the list, anything I can to get better. It's as boring as that. The more dedicated I can be to playing one shot at a time, one target at a time, I'm going to play better, and honestly today was probably the best job I've ever done of that.

Q. You've talked several times this week about how much better you are feeling physically this year. Did you take some extra steps in the off-season or is that just a matter of nature taking its course?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I've had a lot of help getting back 100 percent and I could thank a million people in here tonight, but I've done some things to get better that I was told to do, and I've been more focused on the little things to make myself feel better and get healthy. I'm not 100 percent, but I don't know if anybody out here on this Tour hitting golf balls as hard as we are is 100 percent, so 85 feels pretty dang good to me right now. I'm trying to get better and stronger. I was talking to Butch Harmon on the range about fitness earlier this week, trying to determine what does it mean to golf, and I think I have more stamina now and I have more energy, and I can -- like I said the other day, I can have a cold this week and get by. Little things, bad weather, whatever. Today was not a day that a year ago or two years ago maybe that I would have been feeling good. You know, cold weather would have locked me up a little bit, but now I'm more flexible and feeling stronger and feeling good. Hopefully I'll stick with it and it's behind me.

Q. Davis, did you need the run of birdies starting at 8 to reinforce how your game was or did you feel before that that you were to the point where you'd be able to run off a 64?

DAVIS LOVE III: You mean today?

Q. Yes.

DAVIS LOVE III: The great thing about not thinking about a number is you don't limit yourself. You know, I didn't say I need 67 or 69. Or I need to get to 12 under or whatever. I'm just trying to birdie every hole. The five birdies in a row certainly won me the golf tournament. At that stage of it. But no, I wasn't thinking numbers or streaks or anything like that, just as I said, trying to play every hole for what it was worth and trying to birdie it. Certainly pars were good today, and trying to birdie we get a lot of pars in the making.

Q. How fired up are you now going into the Masters and is that something you'll have to fight that week at all?

DAVIS LOVE III: I always fight being fired up for a big tournament. I handled it real well this week. I played nine holes on Tuesday and nine holes on Wednesday and did a lot of mentally getting ready and relaxing. I enjoyed being at a big tournament. I think a lot of times I go to a big tournament and I feel like I've got to be out there on the golf course or on the range or doing something, and I've learned that you need to be prepared and be ready to play when you get there. I was ready to play. I'm not going to do anything different at Augusta. I may go up this week and play a fun round or two, and as I said the other day to Ferman, I'm going to keep my head down there. I'm honored to be playing in the Masters, I'm honored to be going to a place that's done so much for golf where men and women work and men and women play golf and men and women enjoy watching the Masters, and when I get there I'm going to play golf and I'm not going to do anything else. I'll talk to anybody to tell you how good I'm playing or how I feel and let that be that and play golf that way. It's going to take a lot of determination and a lot of, two words you all hate the most, no comment, to get through the week.

Q. How big was No. 12 today, a bad tee shot and then you make the long birdie putt? How important?

DAVIS LOVE III: That was huge. I hit my two worst shots, I played them three under. I hooked it in the rough. I went after the second shot aggressively rather than trying to just lob something up there in the middle of the green, and I hit a great shot right at it, just a little long, which was fine. To get out of there with a par would have been nice. Birdie was huge, kept the streak going, got me to five birdies in a row. You know, in the end when you win by five it's hard to say which one is the most important, but that certainly kept the momentum going and kept me from looking in the other direction. I was still looking to birdie every hole at that point.

Q. I know Gio was beating you over the head with this stay in the moment train of thought this week. Why is something that sounds seemingly so simple so hard? Why has it been so hard for you to do?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think in talking to Bob Rotella for a long, long time and to Gio and Dr. Coop and anybody who was in that business, it's a commitment to doing the same thing over and over and over and over. Like I was talking to Butch about fitness, he says I don't think being real strong or real fit makes you hit a golf ball better, but there's a commitment to excellence and to doing the same thing every day to get better that carries out onto the golf course. Maybe in stamina, but also in just an attitude that I'm going to do these little things, do them every day to get better. It's discipline. You see Michael Jordan, he comes to the court every time to dive on the ball, to play defense, to do everything he can, to make free throws, to win, and that's what I have to get better at. I can do it. I can do it for five holes in a row, I can do it for 16 holes of 18, I can do it for 68 of 72, but that ain't good enough out here. You have to do it every day 18 holes a day or you're not going to come out on top. I can safely say that I probably got into my target and reacted to the target, and any little thing you want to say, one shot at a time, better than anybody else this week. I don't have a better swing or better putting stroke than these guys, but I did a good job of that. It's hard to convince people that something that easy is that hard to do. It's like saying I'm going to do 50 pushups a day for the next year or 50 situps a day because those are easier. Well, the 50 situps are hard but it's the commitment to doing it every day. Like I said, I'm still learning.

Q. Will you be disappointed if you're not able to summon that at Augusta or do you expect that to be there for you now that you've found this?

DAVIS LOVE III: I certainly won't expect to shoot 64 every day for the rest of my life, but yeah, I fully expect that now I can go and say if I keep doing this, if I stick with it, I can do anything I want to do as long as I'm prepared for it. I'll be prepared and I'll do my best, and I might win and I might not, but at least now I'm back to where I was when I was picked as a guy that had a chance to win Augusta. I wasn't picked as a guy to win Augusta the last couple years. It's nice to be back in that position and I'm going to handle it like I did coming into this week. I was ready to play this week, and if I can just do those things -- you know, so is Tiger Woods, so is Ernie Els, so is Fred Couples and everybody is going to be trying to do it. That's the great thing about playing here. There's a lot of guys that have the talent, it's whoever has the intestinal fortitude and the mental toughness to do it week after week in a big tournament.

Q. Davis, you talked about this was such a big year for you to rededicate. In that sense how big was the win at Pebble to validate that and also today's round had a birdie streak similar to Pebble where you were wobbling in the middle at Pebble and you did that again today. Was there any relief that came from that today?

DAVIS LOVE III: I didn't hit it anywhere like I hit it this week at Pebble. That was a week of hanging in there and gutting it out and grinding it out. Yeah, I took the confidence and the patience it took to win at Pebble with me all week. I had a streak today from 3 to 7 that I didn't make a birdie, and that's when you start second-guessing and hurry up, got to make a birdie, they're getting away or you're not making up any ground. Those streaks are where you're challenged that everything is not going right. I did just stay patient and hung in there, and I did get the burst. I know the burst is going to come as long as I get out of the way and let it come. Eventually, like Freddie, eventually he's going to make a couple birdies, just hang in there until it happened. I did a good job of that starting off today. I didn't get flustered in the beginning. I hit kind of a wrong club, wrong shot with a 3 and I could have easily made a bogey there and started three back. I don't know what they did on 1 and 2, but I could have gotten three or four back rather than making up ground through the first four or five holes.

Q. You were second on Tour in final-round scoring average last year. Is today indicative of how comfortable you are on Sundays?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I get more -- whether I'm in 50th or 1st, I get more excited it seems like on Sundays, and I tend to -- Bob Rotella always says all I've got to do is get you to the weekend and you'll do all right. I feel like I get more focused later in the tournament the later it gets. The later in the round or later in the tournament or when we can start seeing the end, I tend to focus better, and that's what I've been trying to learn to do is play Thursday morning -- SHOTLink has just got more numbers than you can deal with, but it has front nine playing early versus front nine playing late. I'm thinking, you know, there's something in there with my first nine back -- 10th tee scores that I'm not getting that level of excitement on Thursday morning sometimes that I get on Sunday. Like I said, whether I'm 50th or in 1st, it's something about Sundays that make you play harder and focus better.

Q. This victory and performance, is this the step up that you were talking about earlier in the week, the step up against Tiger Woods, someone stepping up against him?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we always talk about playing against Tiger down the stretch. I was chasing my own potential today, and I think that's the difference. I was trying to win and win a big golf tournament and I wasn't concerned with anybody else, but yeah, it is a step up for me in the level of play that I felt was coming, and I've been almost quietly saying it was coming. I feel like I've elevated my game this year, not just this week, but this year, back to where I am comfortable and where I feel like I can compete with anybody. I'm not throwing down challenges and saying I'm back, but it's nice to be playing -- like Freddie said, it's nice to see the ball going where you're looking. It's going where I'm looking more than it has in a long time.

Q. Davis, you've said that this comes at a good time in your career. I'm just curious, have you had any kind of a talking to yourself over the off-season beyond the physical side? Do you see yourself coming to a point in your career where if I'm going to do something --

DAVIS LOVE III: Obviously when I started on the Tour I see these guys win majors when they're 40, 42, 43. They build up to their career, and I felt like experience was valuable. Now that I'm at that age, and Jeremy Schapp tried to add a year to me yesterday, and I'm not going to ever let him forget it, but now that I'm approaching 40, I feel like the experience is as valuable as anything. This off-season I said I'm going to feel better, play better, be more dedicated to what I'm doing because I am in the prime of my career. I'm not on the downside of my career. You look at the great players have always played well in their late 30s, early 40s. There is no substitute for experience on a day like today.

Yeah, I've got a lot to learn, but I've also seen a lot and done a lot. I've been in the hunt a lot and not won, so I've made every mistake you can made and I've learned from them. I said when I signed on with Titleist for ten years, I'm going to play for ten years. I'm not signing on for ten years. This is ten years of good solid committed to playing golf.

Now, I told Wally Uehlein (ps), I can't tell you after ten years what I'm going to do. For the next ten years I'm going to see how good I can get and I'm going to try to get better. He believed me. The last couple years they've stuck with me, but I'm still trying to get better.

Q. When you talk about chasing your potential, that sounds a lot like what Ernie had been saying, don't worry about anything else, just yourself. Is that the secret do you think to closing this gap that everyone talks about?

DAVIS LOVE III: I've got a yellow legal pad, thanks to my dad in a drawer in my motor coach over there, the notes I took while sitting in my house with Bob Rotella. The thing that's underlined and starred is "Chase your own potential." You can add the next four or five words that I didn't write down. I need to chase myself and not chase anybody. I've got a big enough tail to chase. I don't need to worry about anybody else and what they're doing. That was one of my biggest things I got out of a two-day session with Dr. Rotella at the beginning of the year. You do the things to take care of your game just like Ernie said. When I've seen the stuff he says, like the same exact -- let's just go play Ernie Els and Davis Love golf and not worry about anybody else because it's pretty good.

Q. Were you guilty of that, trying to chase Tiger?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think we all are and we're going to be. We're guilty of chasing Jack Nicklaus' records and Nick Price and Greg Norman, the No. 1 player in the world. I chased Greg Norman so hard it spun me into the ground for a few years, and trying to do everything Greg Norman did. There was a time when my wife would say I wish you wouldn't get paired with Freddie because you work too hard. Her word was intimidated. I said I don't get intimidated, I just don't play good because I'm trying too hard. Freddie doesn't intimidate me and neither does Ernie Els or Tiger Woods, but trying to try too hard playing with Ernie Els, Tiger Woods or Fred Couples is dangerous, and I need to keep learning how to play my game and not somebody else's.

Q. Isn't that the thing, as you grow up the first thing you learn is it's a game against yourself and not anybody else? In college did you play that way or did the problems start when you turned pro or were you like that in college?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think expectations are terrible things. Goals are great, expectations are bad. When you start thinking about the things that you want to accomplish while you're playing golf, you're trying to keep score while you're playing, you know, it's a business out here and there's a lot riding on what you're doing, and the deeper you get into it, as I said, 11 years later this tournament is a heck of a lot more important to me. You look back 50 years from now and you're going to say, oh, there's two, but the tournament has grown a lot in 11 years just like the Masters grew a lot in 11 years in the 60s and 50s.

Q. Did you ever -- not believe, but you talked about expectations. So much has been written about you, the long hitter and this guy should do this and this guy should do that. Did you ever get caught up in that? Not necessarily blaming anybody, but thinking you were supposed to do what you read?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I didn't get caught up. When I read whatever after a tournament that I've played or just in a summary of a year or whatever that I should do better, I don't disagree. I've never disagreed with anything anybody has ever written. Now, if somebody says that I don't care or I don't try, that bothers me because I do care and I do try. But you can say I'm not a good -- I haven't been a good closer or I should have won more or whatever. I agree. And I'm going to try to get better at it. I've been trying to get better at it. I don't ever disagree when somebody says he should have beat that guy on the last five holes. I've never disagreed.

Justin Leonard is a great friend of mine. I analyzed everything I did and everything he did and I figured out a way -- I was honest with myself. I hit some bad shots coming in, so did he. Why did we hit them and why did he come out and top and why didn't I? That's one way you learn.

Q. Davis, I was out there following you around and I could only see two or three times when your execution was slightly off. I just wondered, you already talked about 3, 15, 17 -- (inaudible) --

DAVIS LOVE III: 3, the first one into the wind, and I didn't hit a nice flat one in there. I kind of poufed it up into the air trying to hit it in the middle of the green. I hit it right at the target. It didn't have enough steam on it. The two 3-woods that I missed, I was close to hitting them good, I just didn't finish my swing as aggressively as I had. 17 I hit it a little bit fat. I was aiming right up at the middle of the green, right at the logo on the NBC Tower knowing if I hit an 8-iron hard it could not get over the green. I've always played to try to get over the corner of the bunker, the left corner of the bunker, and it was right at it but it was enough heavy that it didn't get up on the top level. You know, it really didn't have a chance to go in the water but it was heavy enough that it wasn't going to get up on top no matter what the wind did. It was a good club for me.

Q. 15, second shot?

DAVIS LOVE III: 15, I just got tricked. I watched Freddie's -- he hit a 6-iron out of that bunker and it looked like the wind didn't get it. I said if I hit 7 too hard it's going to go down in that dip. That hole gets me all the time for some reason. I can't get the right distance on the second shot when that pin is on the right. I hit a pretty good shot and I said when I hit it that's going to be on the front of the green. I got tricked by the wind. It wasn't enough to go past the hole but I was trying to leave it between the front of the green and the pin and get a putt at it and not be down in that dip. There was a time when I was getting a little too cute and overconfident, but I obviously hit a very good pitch from down there. When I did not hit a good shot, I came out smelling good.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Davis, for joining us.

End of FastScripts....

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297