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June 27, 2001

Davis Love III


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Have you had a chance to see the course?

DAVIS LOVE III: Saw the front nine.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Why don't you make a couple comments about the conditions and we'll go into questions.

DAVIS LOVE III: The course is in great shape, as I'm sure you've heard. The rough is deep, which I don't know if that makes it great, but it's deep, and the fairways and greens are the best I've ever seen them. All the comments I've heard from the players is, "The course is great." That's always good to hear. Obviously, it's hot and the course is drying out. I think it is just going to get tougher and tougher as the week goes on. I'm excited to be here. I haven't played, other than the U.S. Open, very much golf, so I'm excited to be back playing and feeling good.

Q. Where are you at physically right now?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'd say, you know, as far as hitting the ball, I feel like I can hit pretty much any shot. I'm 100% playing. Stamina, I'm probably not 100%. That showed at the U.S. Open that every day, I would start off good and not finish well. So stamina-wise, I would say I'm probably 80%, 85% better than I was at the Open, but, you know, I think it will be another couple of weeks before I'm 100% as far as stamina. But, I have been able to start exercising the last week and that seems to be helping more than really just hitting balls. I've progressed to up to where I can hit 100 balls on the range, where at the U.S. Open I was hitting 25 or 30 and feeling like I had to save my swings for the golf course. Now I feel like I can actually practice. I hit probably 100 yesterday and played nine holes. Playing out here is so much different than playing at home. I played nine holes at home and I was like, "Oh, that was nothing, I could play nine more." We played yesterday and we had a little match and it was like playing 18 at home. We swing harder. We hit more realistic shots out here than we do at home. I played with a couple young guys, J.J. Henry hits it a long way; and you're playing more golf, rather than trying to outdrive my 7-year-old son. You're trying to out drive a guy that hits it a long way and makes a lower score on each hole than three of your physical low competitors. Yesterday was a good test that I played nine and hit 100 balls and came out okay. So, I'm excited about it considering where I was six weeks ago, up in the air not knowing what was going to happen.

Q. Is that the most you've done --

DAVIS LOVE III: The U.S. Open, playing four days in a row was the big test; that if I could make it four rounds straight. The most strenuous practice session, probably the last Sunday and yesterday was probably the most hard ball hitting I had done. But, you know, I played 18 holes four days in a row like I was trying to win; that was a pretty good test, too. So I'm getting progressively more and aggressive with my practice and my swings and my exercise each day. Just trying to build up some stamina, rather than go out and push myself until I hurt myself. I'm just trying to gradually do more and more each day.

Q. You want to relax, but obviously you are trying to win -- were you able to do that -- inaudible?

DAVIS LOVE III: I was consistently within reach of the lead. Sunday, I would have had to shoot a great round, but all I needed was a Kite or a Vijay around and I could have won. So I was always within sight of the lead, which was fun, considering I had not played a whole lot. You know, the reaction of all the players has been: "You played great considering you haven't played golf in six weeks, much less you were hurt." So I was pretty happy with it, but I was still a little bit disappointed that I was maybe nine holes away from really being in contention that last nine on Saturday, if I play -- just make some pars and grind it out Saturday afternoon. I would have been right there. I feel both ways: I let a chance get away, but a big leap forward for the rest of the year. Now, I know that if I keep gradually progressing, I'll be ready for this weekend and the British Open with no problems.

Q. How soon do you go over?

DAVIS LOVE III: We're going over early to play a couple rounds in Ireland and a couple rounds in Scotland. And rather than stay home and pound balls and try to get ready like I did for the Masters, I'm just going to go over and have some fun playing golf for four and five days, and just try to play anyway in, getting used to the grass and putting and all that, and the bounce and the weather, rather than trying to work real hard on my swing. Over there, it's good because there's not really any place to beat balls, especially in Ireland, the places we'll play leading up to the tournament. Just resist the temptation to get back to -- it's easy to overwork. It's hard to pace yourself, and that's what I need to do is just pace myself.

Q. Will this be your last tournament before the British?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'll play Billy and Brad's CBS thing, and that's it until the British.

Q. What's a good warm-up for the British?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a fun course and a fun tournament, and it keeps me -- keeps me competing. That week, I'll get five 18-hole rounds in. Two of them, I'll have to keep score. That will be a good warm-up.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm not 100% sure yet. I guess Justin is not playing so we won't get the defending team. I guess we'll draw it out of a hat and see who gets to play with who.

Q. Have the last couple months been difficult given the way you were playing earlier and the success you had?

DAVIS LOVE III: It was hard to kind of get stalled on the start of a good year, but at the same time, I got to spend a lot of time at home with my kids and do some things that I had not been able to do in a long time. You know, take my son to camp and pick him up from camp and see Little League games and go to spend three long weekends with my daughter on her horse shows and looking at horses, things that she likes to do. I got to spend some time fishing and hunting that I usually don't get to do in the spring and work on our golf scores design stuff. So, it was a good break. Because of the little injury, I've also gotten my lower back better and everything just generally, health, I feel better after a rest. Things happen for a reason, and I think maybe I just pushed myself so hard for a couple years, trying to win that, you know, as I won, I got hurt at the same time, and it was like, "All right, you did it, now take a break." When I get refreshed, I can come back. This was the kind of injury that was not really severe, but the one that you needed to take time off. It was almost a good thing; that now, I feel like I'm in the middle of the year and I'm rested, rather than worn out. So, it might be all for the best.

Q. Are you on the Tour Policy Board now?

DAVIS LOVE III: Not right now.

Q. How do you find the state of the game?

DAVIS LOVE III: The Tour game or the -- well, obviously the tour is on an all-time high. You know, we're just challenged by how do we grow, how do we manage our growth, and what do we do with all this excitement and energy that's created by the young players and Tiger and Sergio and how do we capitalize on it, really, is the only problem we have. How do we maintain the growth and capitalize on our good fortune. I think it's really incredible. We have the best athlete in the world playing our sport and we have some of the best young, most recognizable players in sports in our game, and I think it's very, very exciting. Our TV numbers are incredible. You can say, "Well, it's all because of Tiger." Well, it's not all because of Tiger. Tiger has to have somebody to play against. It's exciting when Tiger plays against Sergio and David Duval, and I think we're at a time now when more fans in sports can name golfers than any other time. It doesn't matter that it is Tiger or that it is Sergio, winning two times in the last, whatever, four or five tournaments; or it's David Duval because he shot a 59 and because he was on a hot streak. It doesn't matter the reason. The reason is, everybody wants PGA TOUR right now. That's great for us. It's great for our sponsors and for charity and for everything we do. So it's an exciting time, and the question is: How do we capitalize on that. Not only the PGA TOUR, but golf in general, how do we grow the game, those first tour -- First Tee kids we had out here yesterday, I mean, how do we -- we're still not, really growing new golfers. We're growing fans, we're growing TV ratings and we're growing purses. Our challenge is to grow it to the grass roots part of it. I see more and more kids on our driving range. I see more and more kids coming out for our high school golf team. I had maybe ten kids come out for the team when I played. We had 42 come out, public high school. We are 15 times State Champions, but still, more and more kids wanting to play golf than any other sport. So how do we capitalize on that. How does Titleist capitalize on that, how does the golf course design world capitalize on it, how does just USGA, PGA of America, how do we capitalize; that's the big challenge. Right now, we ought to be able to do because we are getting more publicity, more than anything we ever have. I think everything is great for golf right now. Obviously, I would rather be in golf shoes than the NBA or some other sports.

Q. You talk about other young golfers other than Tiger. Do you think that that puts a lot of pressure on guys like Sergio, J.J. Henry, would it be a pressure situation on you as a young golfer, with Tiger Woods out there to compete against?

DAVIS LOVE III: Obviously, it's hard for all of us when one guy -- doesn't matter who it is. When Nick Price was on his roll or Greg Norman or whoever, all the way back. Obviously, I didn't play in Jack's prime, but when Jack was winning them all, it was hard to win when Jack and Arnie were winning every other one. Yeah, there's a challenge to beat the guy who is on top, and that is the only pressure, is beating the best players in the world. It doesn't matter if two guys split ten wins or one guy makes ten wins; you've still got to beat that score. That's where the pressure comes in, because I know when I tee off here, there's, you know, a lot of guys are going to shoot a lot of low scores. You look at Notah's score of 260 last year and you think what is it going to take in the win? That's what they were asking us on the range, "What do you think will win?" Well, 260 will probably win -- you think, well, that's a lot under par. That's the challenge. You know somebody is going to shoot low. Doesn't matter what name you put beside it. Somebody is going to shoot an extremely low score, and that's the pressure is knowing that. You know, they are making this big thing about, well, you have to play perfect to win to beat Tiger. We pretty much have to play perfect to win any TOUR event out here. You don't get to go out and say, "Well, I just scraped it around and I won." That gets you by sometimes in the U.S. Open, gets you into the Top-10 or maybe gives you a chance to win at the end, but regular Tour events at Hartford you don't just scrape it around. You have to birdie one out of every three holes. That's the pressure of the Tour; there's always somebody that's going to shoot a low score. You just have to do it four days in a row.

Q. What about Ryder Cup this year?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm real excited about it. I saw Curtis last night. He said, "Man, you made it to the Open." I said, "I was just trying to get some points." I wanted to win, but I wanted to protect my position. That was a big thing last week -- two weeks ago. I got through the Open physically, but I also got some points. May have locked it up where I don't have to worry about it. Hopefully, if I do slide somehow to 11th, he would consider me for a pick, but I don't want to be in that position. I want to know that I'm one of these number -- his Top 3 or four guys that are going to be ready to play in every match if he needs us. You know, when I got hurt, that was my big goal. It was, hey, let's not break the streak of potentially five Ryder Cups in a row. Not a whole lot of people have done that. Like Nick Faldo, I want to play a bunch of them in my career, and one day, maybe be the captain and be a big part of the Ryder Cup because that's become a huge thing for us out here, even guys that haven't played it that didn't understand it, now that's the big thing for them. Guys like David Duval and Stewart Cink, after playing on some teams, they want to be on the Ryder Cup team and the President's Cup team. It's a big focus for me. So I want to be ready for the majors and the World Golf Championships events and the Ryder Cup, and I'm -- you know, take six weeks off. I'm doing everything that I can to be ready for it.

Q. Do you have any fear that's going to be repercussions after what happened?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. The whole thing is the players -- as far as the players went, leaving out the captains, the players -- we made a mistake on the 17th green. We went to them and apologized and we went to the next World Golf Championships event where we saw, everybody was together and everybody said, there's no problem. We'll just make sure it's better. That goes back to 1993, my first one, at The Belfry, when I said to Seve, "We need to do something to keep these matches more friendly. We don't need to argue between ourselves after what had happened at Kiawah Island." And Seve says, "Yes, we need to do everything we can to make sure that these continue -- that we continue as friends." That's no different than it has ever been. We get a little edgy. We phoned somebody with our celebrations and it's going to happen every match, and we're going to have to apologize or say, "Hey, look, no hard feelings." Just like if I play Phil in a match and it comes down to the end and I hit a great shot and beat him and say, "Hey, sorry, tough luck, you played great, you probably should have won, but, I'm sorry." Well, yeah, okay the next day we're still friends, but he's mad at me if he got beat. Same thing; if I beat Sergio. It gets a little edgy out there. That's just natural competition. But we leave with each other year round. Yes, the media is going to make it a big deal, the fans are going to make it a huge deal, TV is going to make it a huge deal, and we are just going to go out and play. Whoever wins is going to be happy. Whoever loses is going to feel bad, and there's going to be some comments and it's just going to continue on like it always has. But it has a whole lot of, you know, comments because of some of the things captains said afterwards, not really what the players said. So, anyway, I don't think -- the players are going to be happy. The fans and the media are going to have the huge build-up, like they always do. But the main thing is for everybody to understand is that the players are still friends. I mean, I still -- Sergio is still my buddy and I go to dinner with Jesper and we all have a good time together, and I give Darren Clarke cigars when he comes over here and he gives me cigars when I go over there. I mean, if we hated each other, we would not be giving each other $15 cigars when we come over. So, it's all good. Over there, it doesn't matter what happens. You know, somebody is going to be saying things controversial, no matter if they said them or not. So that's the challenge is just to ignore that and play the game. But we are all friends. I mean, Curtis Strange is really competitive and he'll say something to offend somebody, and so will David Duval or whatever. But that's just good, friendly, competition.

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

End of FastScripts....

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