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March 15, 2003

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis, thanks for joining us. Your third round 65 puts you one shot ahead of Justin Leonard and in good shape for tomorrow. If we could get some opening comments from you.

DAVIS LOVE III: First off, glad to be done. Don't have to come back and finish in the morning. I know that the field staff is happy that we finished, too, so they don't have to scramble.

I played well all day. I've putted well from 8 on. Got the score I needed to get. You need at least 7- or 8-under to keep up. After the start it was a very good round.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You obviously got a history with Justin Leonard. What do you know about Chris Riley, who I think will also be in your group tomorrow?

DAVIS LOVE III: I played a little bit of practice rounds with Chris and maybe one tournament round. He's a lot of fun. He's a loose guy and maybe he'll keep Justin and I a little looser than we normally are. It will be a fun group.

Q. Did you give any thought to not putting on 18?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. (Laughing). I was running on 17.

The guys ahead of us were a little slow at 17 and we were a little slow at 17. Everybody goes for the green and so it was kind of a slow hole.

You know, once we made it to 18 tee, I knew we were going to finish. But, you know we didn't know that it was going to be an 8:00 to 10:00 deal in the morning. So knowing that, it maybe wasn't as big of a difference.

You just don't want to have to come out and play a little bit and wait around to tee off in a final round especially.

Q. Have you and Justin had any fourth round duels since Winged Foot?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. We played a lot together but I don't know.

Q. As long as it's you and Justin back together, do you think you'll be calling on any positive memories from Winged Foot?

DAVIS LOVE III: We've played a lot of golf together since then, so, you know, it's fun to play with a friend. We both had a really good year that year. We both are kind of coming back and trying to have another really good year, so it will just be a fun day.

Q. Did you have two different rounds out there today, the one before the 8th hole and the one after the 8th hole?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, I hit the ball really well all day and I hit a lot of good putts. I was telling Roger Maltbie when we stopped for the rain delay that I hit almost every putt good, just none of them went in. Some of them was misreads and some of it was speed, but I hit a lot of good putts that just didn't fall in.

Really, the putt at 8 was not a perfect putt. It was just one that hung in there and went in. It went right in the middle and it felt like one that should have lipped in and when I hit it -- and then after that, I putted pretty well all day. I think I hit maybe one or two putts all day that I would have taken over, that I said, oh, I didn't hit a good putt there. So I was pretty happy with it all day. Like I said, just nothing went in.

But my ball-striking, save a couple swings, was as good as it's been in a long time. So I'm pretty excited about it. 7-under is a good score considering the start, but considering the way I hit it probably wasn't.

Q. How good was the 1-iron at 9?

DAVIS LOVE III: It was really good. I was kind of cutting into the right side of the green and my caddie, John Burke, he couldn't see the pin. When I hit it, he goes "that's right at it," and I thought it was right of it and hit up on the green and rolled around. Everybody started cheering. Well, now it's right at it.

I didn't mean to curve it around and play the break, but it was a really good shot. That's the kind of shot that I have not been hitting in a long time is hitting a big, high, soft 1-iron or a big high soft 3- or 4-iron into a green, or, really, off the tee.

You know, Jack Lumpkin just gets all over me for missing so many fairways the last couple of years with irons off the tee. I kept not wanting to argue with him, because I agreed, but it's a strength thing. It's not a strategy or a bad attitude. I just can't hit a 1-iron up in that high cut like I used to, and it shows. I went to a 4-wood for a while and now I'm back stinging 1-irons again.

So it was a good one. The one I hit at 17 was very disappointing, that I didn't hit a good 3-iron there, hanging lie and a little excited trying to hit a cute shot in there.

I did hit a lot of good shots today.

Q. I imagine tomorrow is not a day where it's not going to be match-play with you and Justin.

DAVIS LOVE III: No. It's a good day to keep your head down, not look at the scoreboards and just play, because, you know, there really isn't much of a lead here. There's I don't know how many guys within two or three shots. You've just got to play, just try to birdie every hole.

Q. You talked after winning Pebble Beach, because of injuries, you wanted to make a little push here in the next three or four years from a career standpoint. Could you just talk a little bit about that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Being hurt for a couple years and not playing well was disappointing. After '97, I thought I was really going to be on the way up and after '99, it's been kind of flat and nothing really happening.

So it's been just a goal to get back healthy and playing good, and I'm well on my way, so I'm real pleased with it. You know, you just keep doing the little things that I'm doing to get better physically and with my golf game.

Q. What would a second win already this season mean to you?

DAVIS LOVE III: The way I'm playing, I'm just excited about it; that I'm playing this well; that I'm hitting it good and that I'm feeling good. I had a real short week at La Costa, but it's three weeks in a row of playing golf and practicing and I'm feeling very good.

Winning is very important, but feeling good and being in there is what I want to do all year long. And if somebody behind us tomorrow shoots 59 or 60, there might not be anything we can do about it, but I'm going to go out there and try to birdie every hole tomorrow with a good attitude, which is nice. It's nice to be excited and playing aggressively and feeling good.

Q. When was the last time you were feeling this way?

DAVIS LOVE III: '99 probably was the last time. I felt like I was playing decent a lot between the last couple of years, but playing 100% and practicing as much as I want and playing as much as I want has been -- mid-2000, I started off okay, but I was kind of scratchy most of the summer of 2000. And 2001.

Q. You came here, only Top-10 in the World Rankings at this tournament, when you come here in that situation, do you feel like you're the guy to beat?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. I don't think so. I think there's just too many good players out there now. I look at it like if I play my game, I can win.

I think probably the Top-10 player on the BUY.COM TOUR or Nationwide Tour, he's still got to shoot a good score to win. He may have more of an edge, so you've still really got to shoot a good score, so I don't pay much attention to it.

Q. With the injuries, has desire at all waned at all at any point during that, and if so, is it back to where it was at earlier points?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think I wanted it, and that's why I kept playing when maybe I should have taken six months off and gotten better like most athletes. You don't want to sit and convince yourself that you can just get by on just talent and just nursing it. I think I nursed it a little bit too much. I did get lazy. I didn't have any less desire, but I did have an excuse not to practice, a reason not to and a reason to take weeks off. I think I got into some bad habits because of that.

But I couldn't work my way out of them until end of last year.

Q. Have you felt more confident than this going into -- I hate to talk about a major, but it's not that far away, really, and you seem like you're having one of your better years already even if you don't win tomorrow. Have you felt more confident than this going into a major?

DAVIS LOVE III: I felt like I've learned to peak and I've learned to build up. Yeah, I'm feeling as good as I've felt since maybe the start of 2000, before I kind of pushed myself over the edge at Atlanta right before the Masters in 2000. I think overpracticing and overplayed leading up to that.

So now I've learned that I have to pace myself, and between now and then, I'll keep doing the things I'm doing but I won't overdo it. Yeah, this is as confident as I've been with my game in a long time.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over your score card real quick. You birdied No. 8, the par 3.

DAVIS LOVE III: 8, 9-iron to about ten feet.

9, driver, 1-iron, to six or seven feet to the right of the hole.

10, 1-iron off the tee and 60-degree sand wedge to about ten or 12 feet. Made that.

12 was a 1-iron off the tee and a pitching wedge to about 25 feet.

15, 3-wood off the tee, 4-iron on the green about 50 feet and 2-putted.

17, driver and 3-iron way right of the green, hit a good pitch up there about 15 feet and made it.

End of FastScripts....

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