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August 18, 2001

Davis Love III


JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, Davis Love after the third round of the 83rd PGA Championship putting up a 65. Davis, some thoughts on your round today. We'll go through the card and we'll go to Q&A.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm obviously very pleased with my round. To make up that much ground on the Saturday of a major was awfully exciting, get your name back up on the board. But the guys on the front are playing well. We'll just see what happens by the end of the day. But it was a better day. I finished it off yesterday. I bogeyed the last two coming in and that was a little disappointing, so it was nice to come back with a good round. Other than three or four holes, the last three days I've played well and been real pleased with the way I'm playing. Hopefully they don't run too far out there and hide, then maybe I'll have the chance tomorrow to do it again. First hole, driver off the tee just into the rough through the fairway. Hit a pitching wedge from 130 to about 40 feet short of the hole and made it. Then I parred until 11. 1-iron off the tee. A 9-iron to about 12 feet and made it. 12, driver and a 5-iron to about 25 feet and 2-putted. 14 was a driver and an 8-iron to about 18 feet. 15 was a 4-iron to about four-and-a-half feet. Pars the rest of the way in.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Davis. Questions, folks.

Q. What was key to the round today? Did something happen early to get you cranked and you knew you had hold of it, a good feeling early, or -- what was the key?

DAVIS LOVE III: I made a good putt at 1. I also made a good putt at 6 for par. But other than that, you know, nothing exciting, really. I've hit the ball well. I've scored, you know -- haven't quite gotten a lot out of the way out of the way I'm hitting it, but I guess those two putts and birdied a couple to get the back nine going was really the key. I only hit two bad drives all day so that was a lot of it; that I had a lot of short shots into greens. Even 18, I hit a great drive out there and hit had a 5-iron in rather than a 3- or 4-iron, so driving was probably the biggest thing.

Q. You said the first two days that there were just a couple of holes that went wrong and that's been the difference. What's been the reason for those couple holes? Has it been driving or putting?

DAVIS LOVE III: The first day I started the back and turned to 1 and hit a 3-wood through the fairway in the rough and had such a bad lie, I couldn't quite get it back to the fairway. Then hit it, missed the green and missed a little putt. So I kind of did everything on that one hole and made a double. So that kind of stopped my round. I guess I was either 1-under or maybe even. You know, that kind of put me behind the 8-ball and then I was even -- then you're 2-over and I missed a putt at the next hole, and just never got that round going. Yesterday, I did get it going. Like I said, except for the last two holes, I played the same way as I did today. I was a yard or two short at 17 and landed on the wall and made a bogey; and then 18, I hit a 4-iron right at it and got in the back fringe and 3-putted. So I didn't hit that bad of shots yesterday to shoot 67. I think it was just -- you know, you're going to miss a fairway every once in awhile. You just can't make double. You're going to make a bogey and every once in awhile, a par, and hope you don't miss more than a couple of fairways today where you can't play. Like today, I missed one in the rough. Hit it up on the green out of the bunker and got it up-and-down at 6. 16, I hit it in the fairway bunker and had a terrible lie, and tried to knock it on the green and hit it in the trees and fell down short, and I hit it up there and got up-and-down. So those two got me in position to have a chance, whereas, you know, the first day, I make a double out of the rough and then throw two away. So that's really the difference.

Q. How much quicker are the greens than the first two days, and any other significant changes in the course?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it is firming up. You know, the ball is still not rolling in the fairway. Bombing it out there and it's hitting and just stopping. But the fairways are firmer to play off of. They are much more, you know, consistent and good to hit iron shots off of. But the greens are drying. They are picking up speed and I have a feeling, you know, coming in today is going to be more like what we expect out of a major. You know, hard and crusty and getting fast. You know when they start bringing the hoses out that they are getting to the point where they are a little extreme and they were syringing a few greens -- I guess we got started on the back and they already had the hoses out. I suspect this wind and a couple more hours of sunshine, they are going to be pretty dry by the end of the day.

Q. You mentioned making up a lot of ground, being very pleased at that, in a major. Can you think back to other majors, have you made up this much ground before?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. Maybe at Augusta, may have moved up some, which I usually -- usually, it's with a 2-under and you move up past a bunch of guys that were all stalled at 1-over or 2-over and you move past. But I've yet to see how many I do pass, but this was a big jump.

Q. What exactly is wrong with your neck and how are you -- are you adjusting any different way on the golf course?

DAVIS LOVE III: I hope now nothing is wrong with it, it feels so good. I had a little disk problem and I had a great suggestion from Tom Booros, who is now worldwide famous back consultant to the golfers that it keeps coming back, Davis, and maybe there's something in your swing. I went back and talked to Jack Lumpkin, my teacher, said, "Yeah, you've always kept your neck out too much. You stretch out with your arms and your head stays behind." He even reminded me that a year and a half ago I needed to work on letting my head go a little bit. I'm trying to split the difference between my head down and David Duval's head up, and it seems to be taking some pressure off. I hope it is that simple. Usually, like at the British, I got worse every day as the week went on. This week, after playing three rounds last weekend at home and then coming here and playing -- well, I've played five full rounds already this week. I seem to get better every day, so it must be helping.

Q. Right now it's three shots behind, I think. You said that you don't know how far those guys are going to run, but what is a comfortable deficit going to the final round of a major? What would you hope you are still within?

DAVIS LOVE III: One. (Laughter.) But I'm sure that's not realistic today. I don't know, Justin won the Open from six, something like that. I won a couple tournaments from six or seven back, so you don't want to be that far back but at least you won't feel that far out of it if you're six or seven back on a golf course like this. You never know what's going to happen, and you never know how the leaders are going to feel. And if I've got a little gap between me and them, tee time-wise, maybe four or five groups, you never know that you can get something going and finish early. But I would hope it's three or four and no more.

Q. Following up on that, typically on the final day of a major in the Open or PGA Championship it is usually a conservative game plan to not shoot yourself out of the Championship. When the scores are low like this, does that need to change at all? Do you need to be a little more aggressive?

DAVIS LOVE III: I completely changed the game plan after the first day. I was hitting 3-wood off 1 and laying up a little bit on some holes, and he just said, you know what, we're going to hit driver on almost every hole, because with these scores you have to play aggressive. Now, tomorrow, depending where you are, you don't want to do anything silly. But, yes, I think surprisingly enough, we are having to play this golf course more aggressively than we thought, and tomorrow, the last round of a major, it's not going to be like a U.S. Open that's hang on for dear life and make pars. I think you're going to have to make some birdies to win.

Q. Earlier this week, there was some speculation or some talk about Fred Couples perhaps even retiring soon because of injuries that he's had, problems with his back. How close to that sort of point are you --

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, if he quits, I'm going to quit, too. (Laughter.) I've been reading that all week. I think that's probably a reverse psychology and he'll probably win Vegas and be back to normal. But, I don't know. I don't know how that started, but if he started it or -- now he's been saying he's going to quit for 15 years, but, you know, he always comes back and wins something the next week. Fred has lasted a long time with a severe back problem. What we're talking about with me or with some other guys is minor compared to -- I mean, it's a headache compared to what Fred has. He's lasted a long time, and he's a lot like me -- when he feels that he's not competitive, I'm sure he will quit. But I've watched him play a lot this year, and I don't think he's quite ready. He looks good.

Q. You're not to that point?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, no. I'm -- I had a little setback this year, but my hip and my back problems that I've had in the past are almost completely gone. Don't even notice them anymore. The programs that I'm on, it seems like I'm just getting better and better. So I'm excited about the next eight- to ten years. Past that, I don't know. As long as I can keep up length-wise, I feel like my short game gets better and better rather than worse, and my swing -- I'm still working hard on my swing and I've still got a lot I want to do. Hang around Julius for five more Ryder Cups and ten more PGAs would be nice.

Q. How frustrating a season has this been in regard to the majors and how much can that change tomorrow?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it can be a great major year if you win one. I was a little disappointed. I was playing my best golf going into THE PLAYERS and the Masters. My little injury setback just came at a bad time. Other than that, I've had a fairly good year. Not quite to the preparation that I wanted for the Open, but take one of the nine holes away and I could have been in that playoff, too. And at the Open, I played really, really well. The breaks didn't seem to want to go my way there. So I'm fairly happy with it, considering that I didn't even really get a shot at playing that much at the Masters. Yeah, tomorrow -- you know, if you have a good round tomorrow, it makes up for everything.

Q. Any different feeling going into the final round tomorrow after having already won a major? Any lessons that you can take from that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I kept telling myself today, you know, it's just another golf tournament in Atlanta. Just keep playing. Don't look at the leaderboard, don't get excited, and don't listen to the people. Where all these Tar Heel fans came from in Atlanta, Georgia, I don't know, but there's a lot of yelling out there when I'm playing good and it's fun. I've got to put it out of my head. And I tried real hard today to hit a putt and hit a good shot and go back to thinking about something else. I think that experience of having won one and having been there enough will help me get there tomorrow. I think that's the main thing I've been concentrating on this week is downplaying it and not thinking as much about what is going on in between shots because, you know, it's hot and it's a big tournament and a lot of fans pulling for me, so it would be easy to get distracted. So I've been working real hard on that.

JULIUS MASON: Questions? Thank you, Davis, very much.

DAVIS LOVE III: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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