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September 24, 2002

Davis Love III


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Davis, welcome to the De Vere Belfry. And you've got your putter with you, so maybe it's red hot, is it.

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm hoping to keep it with me, and it will get red hot.

GORDON SIMPSON: What were your thoughts on the course today after playing it.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's in wonderful condition. I remember the holes and I remember the matches, I don't remember the golf course condition or the rough being this deep the last time, so I think they've done a wonderful job with the golf course. And obviously the course has matured a lot. The trees have gotten bigger, and they've grown little friends on some holes. It seems like a lot tighter, more mature golf course than in '93. It's in great shape. You couldn't really ask for much more. And the accommodations and having everything right here for us is just -- it's a great week.

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you feel the team in general is in great shape, as well?

DAVIS LOVE III: They're excited to have everybody together. We missed Hal and Stewart last week, so we didn't quite get the full week of team camaraderie. But now we're all together and excited, and we had a fun round today. And we're looking for a great week.

Q. Paul Azinger said he was disappointed they're playing the 10th hole all the way back this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: I guess it's a new tee or they decided to play it far back. But it's a different hole than we're used to in '93. I don't know where they played it the last few years in their European event. There will be a lot of laying up on that hole.

Q. How will you play the hole, will you go for it?

DAVIS LOVE III: If it's up to me, if I'm the captain of my twosome, we're both laying up. We had four guys layup today in a match, three out of the four made birdie. I think that's the way to play it, the way they have it set up.

Q. Davis, it seems to be a perception that the European side is much more passionate about wanting the Cup, winning the Cup, maybe it's because it's the way they were brought up. Do you feel that is an incorrect assessment --?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't see that.

Q. Can you talk about how much passion, the passion of wanting to win that Cup comes into play this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think we saw it when we got so far behind at Brookline, how bad we wanted it. And it always seems like the team that's behind or the team that seems to need it the most, that didn't win the year before is due for a win, seems to rise up. And that's what we've got to watch for this year. But, no, nobody wants to win more than our team, and I think it's about equal. I don't think you can point at one team or the other. I've only been on one team that I felt like I let down as far as passion for winning, and that was the Presidents Cup team in Australia. And we went back and begged Tim Finchem to let Jack have the captaincy again so we could win one for him. Because being the time of year and the end of a season we just felt like we didn't give it a hundred percent.

But as far as the Ryder Cup, no, I think both teams are equal passion. We're all friend. I've spent as much time talking to the guys that I'll be playing against this week, last week at Mount Juliet, than I did my own teammates. And we're all friends, and Darren Clarke and those guys have all gotten to be good friends of mine. We're all passionate, we all want to win, and we're all on the same page, and we're going to be friends next week. But this week we all want to be the winner. And there's no, like I finished 8th and made a decent check this week; it's either win or lose, and we don't want to come out on the losing end.

Q. Given what happened with the galleries in Brookline in '99 and now in the aftermath of 9-11, how do you expect the American teams will be treated by the galleries here this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: We've always been treated well. Valderrama, we were getting thrashed and they were enjoying it, but we were treated fairly. We were getting beat, and they were cheering their team. And I think -- our fans at the U.S. Open weren't very good this year. I think just fans in the northeast have not been the best golf fans in the world, and the best golf fans in the world are in England and Scotland. And now that I've played in Ireland, they were the most well-behaved golf crowd outside of the Masters that you could have last week, and the same at Muirfield this year. So I expect it to be pull for your team and cheer if we hit one in the lake, because it means a win for the other side. But I think it will be very, very good. And it always has been. I think as far as the players, there wasn't a whole lot of complaining on Thursday, Friday, Saturday at Brookline, there was just some complaining on Sunday. And they were very happy with the way things went until Saturday night. And Sunday they just weren't happy with the way things went. And it did get ugly. But it wasn't all because of the fans; it was just they got beat bad. And whether it's the World Series or whatever, if you get beat bad, you don't feel very good about it. So I think outside of a few isolated drunk fans, the Ryder Cup has been excellent the four and a half times I've played in it.

Q. Can you look back to your rookie year on the Ryder Cup and talk about the -- any experience that you might have had -- things that you didn't expect, and there are also -- there are 7 rookies in these matches, what do you expect out of them?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think -- it seems like this year's rookies, some of the guys on our team, like a Scott Verplank, he's my age, played a lot of golf tournaments, he's not feeling like a young kid that just made the team and doesn't know what to expect. He's watched a lot of Ryder Cups, he's been around guys like me that have played a bunch of them. He understands what's going on, and I think we've all played enough golf to know how to play golf under pressure and in front of big crowds.

When I played here in '93, this was the biggest, loudest crowd I've ever seen. Now we see that a lot, whether it's a U.S. Open or an Open championship, whatever, we see big, excited crowds a lot more now. But they're still going to be a little more nervous and a little different. They'll learn the first match out how to handle it. But we don't want to put them out there maybe two together against the best squad and let them sink or swim. We want to try to get them some experience, help them out this week, practicing and getting them used to what's going to happen and telling them stories and things like that to get them ready. But it always seems like somebody you don't expect is the hero, and we expect that out of one of our guys, too.

Q. Did you have an experience, to follow up, did you have anything from your rookie year that you remember?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, a lot.

Q. Other than the size and the noise of the crowd?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I remembered having an unfortunate draw -- the plan was that Tom Kite and I were going to play four matches together. And we drew Seve and Jose the first three. And that was the wrong time in both of their careers to draw them. And Tom Watson said, "All right," when he saw the draw for the third one. He said, "No matter whether you win or lose, you guys are going to take a break in the afternoon." And that was -- it was a great learning experience for me. We did beat them one match and everybody celebrated that we beat them one out of three, and I was mad that we lost two. But everybody was like this is a good job getting a point off those guys. And in the end -- now I've learned that every point is important. Every half a point is important. And I learned a lot from Tom Kite in three matches that's carried me through a lot of other Ryder Cup matches. I think between him and one 15-hole stretch with Payne Stewart the last time, I learned more from those two guys about how to play a Ryder Cup than any other matches.

Q. Davis, as a professional golfer, what's the most nervous you've ever been on a golf course? Might it have been at the Ryder Cup?

DAVIS LOVE III: Right out there on 18th green in '93 when I knew, because the whole team had showed up on the last two holes, everybody except for Raymond, that wasn't playing, was watching; and the other team watching me finish. And when I had that little putt to win my point, when it looked like I wasn't going to win my point, that was the most nervous I've ever been. And I think there's been some situations where I've been -- should have been as nervous coming down the stretch of tournaments or even in other Ryder Cup matches, and I've handled it better, because I didn't go -- because I did go through that.

Q. Can you remember what that -- since you're not accustomed to being nervous like that on a golf course, can you remember what that felt like? Were your hands shaking or were you breathing heavy?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, my hands were shaking so bad that I had to back away from the putt. And I've been a little bit nervous and had my hands shake and gone on and putted, but I literally just couldn't do it. I got over and if you watch me play, I'm pretty much the same putting routine all the time. And I got over it and I knew it wasn't going to happen. And there was going to have to be some hitch in there somewhere out of my normal routine. I promised myself if I wasn't ready to make the putt I was going to back away. And I backed away, and said the only way you're going to make this is go back through your routine. And I completely fell back through my routine. And I made the putt. And all I remember is the guys running out on the green. And that's the difference, I was trying not to miss the first time and was shaking so bad that I couldn't handle it. And then when I got back, and said it's either going to go in or not go in, go through your routine, and I calmed down, I got lost in the moment and made the putt. And that putt more than probably any other thing in my golf career is the thing that I go back to when I need a boost of confidence or a need to make a putt, I go back and say, all right, the only way to do it is what Brad Faxon says is get in the process; not the results. I'll tell that story in our team room a lot this week, that no matter how strong the odds are against you, if you can just play your game, you can come through. If you're trying to win a point or trying not to lose a point, and you're thinking about the outcome out here, the pressure can get to you a lot more than any other tournament.

Q. In terms of emotions, how high are the highs? How low are the lows? Are you happier when you win as opposed to sadder when you lose a point?

DAVIS LOVE III: You're more down if you lose. If you win, you feel, all right, I got one. That was my job, was to get a point today. If you lose, I tell you, it still sticks right in the front of my head every time I think about the Ryder Cup, about my lack of winning a point at Valderrama. I was a PGA champion, Justin Leonard and I are playing as good as anybody in the world and we couldn't get a point. When you look at how close the matches are, if you go out and don't at least get a split. If you split on your record you're a great Ryder Cup player. And I didn't get a split. I didn't get a point. So that was very, very disappointing. And it sticks with you. I can't tell you the matches I've won. I can tell you all the ones I've lost. And it really wears on you, especially when you see what happens like at Brookline, when we barely snuck by with a great day. If I'd have done a little better the first two days and gotten another half a point somewhere, it would have made a heck of a difference.

Q. Paul Azinger is in here saying it's a different generation now, guys that know the Europeans better. You said last week in Ireland you talked to the Europeans more. Is that a good or bad thing for the Ryder Cup and has it changed the Ryder Cup?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's good. There was a time, maybe '89 and '91 when there was a little bit of bad blood in the matches, we don't like them, they don't like us. And now we're friends. And I've said the last few times, Darren Clarke is supplying me cigars when I'm over here. He was letting me practice with his practice putter last night. Maybe Sam doesn't want anybody to know that. We play -- it's a worldwide game now. They're on our Tour, we're playing on their Tour. Sergio Garcia, we didn't meet him at the Ryder Cup. We met him on our Tour. He came to play our Tour. And Jesper Parnevik lives in Florida and plays our Tour. And it's just our Tour is a worldwide Tour. It's their Tour. They make -- where would we be without the Jesper Parneviks, and the Sergio Garcias, and the Bernhard Langers, and guys that have come over and made our Tour even better than it was before they had freer access. So we're all friends, and we all get along very well. We play against each other, with each other, we live with each other year-round, and I can't go and say, you know, what, "I'm sick of Darren Clarke this week, I want to beat his butt." I do want to beat him, but we're still friends. If you had given us a choice, we might have played together today.

If they said there's no galleries, you all go do whatever you want, we might have mixed it up. We might have played with each other. We're not -- we're in it to win; we're not in it as a grudge match. And I wish the world could see what happened when we all got back together after the last Ryder Cup at Brookline, and we all sat down or met on the range or had dinner at Valderrama, at the American Express tournament, they said there's no apology needed. We understand things got out of hand on 17 green, but it didn't affect the matches and we're all friend, let's move on. There was no -- they didn't expect us to sit down and beg forgiveness. They were happy to move on and go on as friends and there's no bad blood over any of these matches. And that's the way it ought to be. And Thomas Bjorn said last week, as long as we have fun, it will be a great match. And that's our attitude. We want to play hard, we want to win, but they're our friends, and Tiger Woods is my friend. I want to beat him more than anything. And the same thing goes for Darren Clarke.

End of FastScripts....

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