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March 14, 2003

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis, thanks for joining us. A second round 65 puts you at 13-under for the week and currently in first place. A lot of players still out there, but you've got to be happy about your position.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, "current" is the key word. (Laughter.) Until they tee off.

Yeah, I'm happy with it. I didn't get everything out of either round I could have but it's still a good score. You've got to shoot low, so it's nice to get off to a good start. And hopefully those will be my high rounds for the week and I can really get some low ones, because if it stays calm like this, it's going to take an awfully low score.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Having played in the afternoon yesterday, talk a little about the differences. I know the wind picked up a little bit but your scores were pretty similar. Just talk about the difference in conditions.

DAVIS LOVE III: It played a lot harder yesterday.

Today there was a lot of guessing because you didn't know how firm the fairways were going to be when you hit your tee shots. What we were used to was a lot of roll, so it was interesting picking clubs today off the tee. But the greens were soft and it played a lot easier. A one-shot difference, definitely I could have got a lot more if I played as good as I did yesterday.

But I missed a little putt, I missed a 5-iron and parred the 9th, my last hole. I hit a good drive through the fairway at the end, and it's just hard to keep your patience and keep hitting 1-irons and 3-woods off of par 5s. I hit a driver and hit it through the fairway and didn't have a good lie. Put it up by the green, didn't hit a good chip or a good putt, so I made a par, which is a killer on that hole.

Anyway, I played fairly well and I'm rolling the ball good and hitting my irons much better than I did at Doral. So that's what you have to do here, have a lot of chances and I did have a lot, so I'm pretty pleased.

Q. A lot has been made about the course and the length, the fact that you didn't hit very many drivers the first couple of days, does that show the overall state of rest of your game is in pretty good shape?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's pretty good. I'm swinging well. I did hit driver today. I hit good drives. I hit it too far at 9, but other than that -- I hit a beautiful drive at 15, which is not normally a driver hole, but it happened to be in the wind at the time; and hit a good drive at 18 and a good driver on 1, right in front of the green.

So when I did hit it, I hit it good. I'm swinging good and I'm not missing a lot of fairways, but you shouldn't with a 1-iron or 3-wood. So overall, I think I'm playing pretty well.

Q. What do you think it will be at the end of today?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, if they get gusty winds, it may not be quite as low as we think. But 15 (-under)I think would be at least what it gets to, maybe less, maybe 16 or 17.

Q. Just talk about here you are at 13-under and you might not be within two, three, four shots of the lead after two rounds.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm planning on it. It's nice to have me, but I won't be leading at the end of the day.

So, it's no surprise, though. You figure it was going to take 8-under a day probably to for sure win. Started off with a bunch of 9s. I wouldn't be surprised if it's 25-plus.

Q. You said yesterday that you're glad you came, you talked to some other players and they were concerned about the layups on the holes, how close were you not to coming?

DAVIS LOVE III: I was coming all the way because I can't play next week because my daughter has a horse show. I was coming all the way.

And I don't mind every once in a while playing where you have to play a lot of strategy. They have done a good job, like I said, with the walks, covering us on that and getting us around the golf course.

No, I'm glad I came. They are taking great care of us and doing the best they can with the bad conditions they got yesterday. It's actually in wonderful shape yesterday. Somebody put a lot of drainage on this golf course. I'd like to see what's under the ground out there.

Q. Is this fun?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's fun. It's like playing Indian Wells every day. You know if you shoot 4-under you're done. You can see guys like Paul Azinger who had played nine or ten holes and they were even par get frustrated and start pushing and lose their patience, and you would see guys go the other way. They are either going good or you can go really bad because you start thinking, "God, I'm so far behind" and start pressing. It is a lot like playing a couple of those courses at the Hope where you know you have to shoot 65 or you're going to be a long way.

It's fun sometimes. You don't want to do it every week but it is fun sometimes to test yourself mentally because it's a big mental battle out there because you make three pars in a row and you start panicking.

Q. Low scoring always re-ignites the debate about technology and equipment and something must be done --

DAVIS LOVE III: Really? I thought it was every day. (Laughter.)

Q. When you see things like this, what do you think?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we haven't played a golf course like this since the course Chip Beck shot 59 on. That was a long time ago. This doesn't have anything to do with technology. This has to do with playing a short, easy golf course.

Like I said, if we played four rounds at Indian We wills, you'd have the same thing. You'd have an incredibly low four-day total. So it really has nothing to do with technology because nobody is using. They are using 1-irons off the tee and 8-irons and 9-irons to the greens.

It's not like long drivers and the supposedly extra-long balls are making much of a difference this week.

Q. Have you seen the new course?

DAVIS LOVE III: I have. I've seen a couple holes. I heard it's the opposite of this.

Q. In what way?

DAVIS LOVE III: Extremely long. They say it looks nice and looks like there are some lay-ups on a big golf course. It looks like the greens are kind of up in the air and it looks like it's going to be pretty hard.

So I would say it's definitely the opposite just from looking at it from the sides and hearing about it.

Q. Are you comfortable with going low each day? A lot of tournaments you've won have been on courses that are completely different than this, are you comfortable with this where you have to shoot 6- or 7-under maybe to win this tournament each day?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think I'm playing well enough right now, where I certainly don't want to get in a putting contest with Jim Furyk over four days on bermudagreens.

I think I can keep up anywhere now. I've shot some pretty low scores. It's just a matter of staying patient and not getting -- today I did have kind of a slow start and came back and got to 7-under.

If I had 15 like this and 15 really hard ones I'd probably play more of the really hard ones. I think most guys out here, the top players, can compete on any of them but we lean more towards a higher score and a tougher golf course being an easier one for us to come out on top on.

Q. Is this a tougher mental battle because if you start out with three, four, five pars in a row, you can really get down on yourself easily because you know people are passing you left and right?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think this is the extreme and maybe Augusta or the U.S. Open is the other extreme of, you know, you just have to stay incredibly patient because if you start trying to force things, either on a really hard course or on a really easy course, you can start thinking about score too much and lose track of what you're doing.

Out here, you have to try to birdie every hole. There is no, like, well, these are birdie holes and these aren't. Every hole has to be a birdie hole and every hole you have to play aggressively and you have to keep that aggressiveness going and not lose track of your game plan and start keeping score. And keeping score is one of most dangerous things out here we do, in a tournament like this where you know that 68 is not going to be good. It's hard not to keep score. It's like, geez, I just played the two easy holes and the two par 5s and all of a sudden I'm 1-under and I'm way behind. It's a different kind of mental game that we don't play a whole lot.

If you skip the Hope and Vegas and maybe a couple other with us, you skip the easy ones, you're almost always playing hard courses, so we don't do it that much.

Q. You had that stretch where you didn't win until Pebble Beach. Yesterday you were talking about your health wasn't that good but you didn't want to complain about it. How bad was it?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it showed in just not winning. I think that was the difference between me winning and hanging around the lead but not being able to win.

I played some good tournaments and when I did feel good, it was like Scott Hoch beat me at the Western. I played really well and I felt good but I didn't have enough of those weeks where I could -- when I did have a good putting week or when I was playing well, I just really didn't have the strength to finish guys off or to play four good, solid rounds.

My back has been good. It's the neck problems I've been having since like maybe the start of 2000, it's been kind of holding me back. But I'm good now.

Q. Was it just exercise, stretching?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, a lot of rest and a lot of understanding how to get around it and some good help therapy-wise and training-wise.

Q. Aren't you staying on the course in a mobile home and how that's that been this year?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's been great. I did it a lot last year. This is my second week this year, probably 15 I will do in a motor home and it's great. I can roll out of bed this morning and half an hour later, sneak over here, see how they were doing. I'm just about on 1 tee basically and it's awful nice.

Q. Is John Daly a good neighbor?

DAVIS LOVE III: He's a very good neighbor. He's trying to tell me how to fix my generator yesterday, and he was wrong, but other than that, keep him away from the tools and we're okay. (Laughter.)

He's been kind of helping me along, here is where we were going to park, here is what you do, here is how to handle it. He's been a great neighbor. Everybody says, well, he must be fun to be around. He's quiet. He comes back, he disappears. So I've had fun with his wife and little Austin, but John is pretty quiet, which I've been shocked to see, which is good. He's enjoying himself.

And I love it because -- I told him the other night, I haven't been this excited about traveling on TOUR in a long time because I have my stuff with me all the time and it makes me it a lot of fun.

Q. What kind is it.

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a Featherlite.

Q. Notah Begay was in here yesterday talking about a situation where he had been injured in 2000 and how long it took him to get back and his biggest hurdle now is the mental hurdle of being able to come out here and win, and obviously you've done that, you've won this year already. But did you have a problem with, as you've talked about, trying to finish people off or trying to get through four rounds, did you have that problem as well mentally?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, and I talked to Notah a little bit about it when he was coming back.

Yeah, you just lose a little bit of confidence. You lose a little bit of strength and then the next thing you know, you don't feel like you're as capable as you were. You feel like you're starting behind the 8 ball. You certainly don't want to tee off playing with Tiger Woods and feel 70 percent and be 80 percent mentally. You're just not going to win.

So once you get past that, that's why I said at Pebble Beach, it was a big win for me to come back from a lot of near misses and get one, and once you get over that hump -- I haven't burned it up since then but I've been shooting some good scores and feeling better about it. I'm hitting better shots and I'm hitting high cut 5-irons and 4-irons like I used to and I'm starting to see some signs of really playing well.

I had a hot putter that week as Pebble and I think whenever I get a hot putter, I can win any week now. It's nice to feel that way.

Q. Do you go into weeks now saying, "I can win every week"?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah and that was my goal for this year, was to come out and play tournaments ready to win. That's why I didn't start until the Hope and I didn't go to Hawaii because I wasn't ready, I didn't feel like I was 100%. If I come to a tournament and say I'm tired, I'm worn down, I'm going to hurt myself if I keep this up, I'm just going to pack up and go home.

I don't want to miss next week, but if I play four in a row, I would be no good at THE PLAYERS. So I'm going to have to stick with my game plan on and off the golf course. I need to go back this afternoon and go through my whole routine. If I don't, I know I'll feel it on Sunday.

Q. You're 1-under through seven holes today and then you eagle 17, were you starting to feel any panic about not getting anywhere?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I made a bogey, hit a bad 5-iron into 12, and then hit a bad tee shot at the next hole and chipped out and hit a good shot up there and made the putt.

I kind of saved it there and made a birdie and an eagle coming in. But, yeah, you're concerned. Like I said every time you make three pars, four pars in a row, you start to worry. I missed a little putt at 1, my 10th hole, and you think, "Well, I'm going to have a chance on every hole coming in." But you still think that every one you let get away is going to be the difference. If it takes 29- or 30-under par to win, you just can't let it get away.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go over your score card quickly and we'll take one or two more questions. You started on No. 10 with a birdie.

DAVIS LOVE III: 10, I hit 3-wood off the tee, sand wedge to about ten feet.

12, 1-iron off the tee and a 5-iron in the bunker blasted out about six or seven feet and missed it.

15, driver off the tee, 1-iron into the green-side bunker. Blasted out about ten feet and made it.

17, 3-wood off the tee and a 4-iron to about five feet. Made that.

4, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and an 8-iron to about eight feet.

5, a 1-iron off the tee, 3-iron to lay up and then a pitching wedge to about a foot.

The par 3, I hit a 5-iron about 20 feet and made that.

7, was a 3-wood off the tee and a 9-iron to about five feet.

Q. Despite the problems you had with your neck, you pretty consistently stayed in the Top-10. As people search for somebody to be Tiger's next rival, they went through Phil and Sergio and now Ernie, your name didn't get mentioned a lot. Do you feel like during that time you were a forgotten man?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. I wasn't playing well. I finished 24th or 25th or something on the Money List last year, didn't win.

No, I wasn't running in that company. I was close but I wasn't running up there.

Q. You said that "whenever I get a hot putter, I know I can win." Is it rarer that the hot putter doesn't win and can you win without a hot putter?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, David Duval had a hot putter the first two weeks of the year and missed the cut. He made everything. He was leading putting after two weeks.

I know what you're saying. I think obviously Tiger or Phil, if they finish third or fourth or fifth in putting for the week, they can still win. It's hard to beat now. It's hard to beat the guy that's No. 1 in putting for the week. Like Tiger is No. 1 in greens and regulation, No. 1 in putting usually wins. That's what's happening this week. You watch -- everybody is going to hit -- not everybody -- but the guys at the top are going to be hitting almost every fairway and then just tons of greens. So putting, it's going to come down to who makes the most so 10- or 15-footers for birdie.

A hot putter for me, I don't fall too far down the list very often, but I also don't jump up into 1, 2 and 3 for the week very often. So when I do that, I feel like I've got a really good chance to win.

Q. Is your putter hot this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's getting hot. It's warm.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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