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April 3, 2001

Davis Love III


MODERATOR: We have Davis Love for you all at five o'clock and he's right on time. Davis, would you like to say a few words before questions?

DAVIS LOVE III: You all can just fire away, since you are all on deadlines.

Q. Greens are difficult, obviously, all over the Tour, but what are one or two unique characteristics of the greens here, say, if you are over an eight or a 10-foot putt; is your mindset different here than elsewhere?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. They are just -- they have a lot of slope and they are hillier here, and faster, I think is the only thing. The speed of them is really the biggest thing, and the slope. But, you know, we are seeing more and more -- it used to be this was the only place that was really fast greens, and then it was one of the few places, and then, you know, they are still probably the most severe we play. But we do play a lot more tournaments that do have them like this. More and more green superintendents at clubs have figured out how to do it and have the wherewithal to do it, so we see it now more and more.

Q. Is your mind set any different than it has been the last three or four years?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think so. I think I'm a little bit more confident and comfortable with my game probably than the last two years, but, you know, I've played well a few times here; with playing well before and without playing well. So I don't think it makes a huge amount of difference, but I am feeling really good about my swing and happy that I played last week and hit some good shots. I didn't play great, but I felt like I made some progress with my swing. Here, it's all a matter of patience and putting, and I've been -- even though I have not been playing perfect, I've been pretty patient with myself. So I think I can -- when you get out there and get excited about the Masters, you seem to do everything a little bit better. You can just concentrate with that, I think I'm in good shape.

Q. I've heard the word, "Patience," thrown around quite a bit in the last two days and you hear it a lot in the last two days, is it different "Patient" than the U.S. Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: A little bit. At the U.S. Open you are being patient that if you hit a bad drive, you know you have to chip out, or if you miss a green you are going to be in the deep rough, and you are going to have to putt a lot of 10-footers for par. Here, you get some tricky shots into greens that you cannot shoot at the pins. You can get some putts that you know you do good if you just 2-putt them and it's more of a different kind of a strategy and a different kind of a patience that you have to have. There's a lot of tricky things that happen out there. You can get some funny bounces and some balls that you hit good shots that suck back off of a green, and you have to be patient with what you can construe as bad breaks if you don't have a good attitude.

Q. Given how hot you were when you dropped out of Bay Hill, can you take a mulligan out of this, you came out and lost a little bit at TPC --

DAVIS LOVE III: Well because I hit four bad drives in the woods. So I don't think playing Bay Hill would have made much difference with that. You know, it's hard to foresee the weather. I think the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, even the Sunday before weather didn't help me any, because I didn't get to play a whole lot of normal golf. Our practice round, even on Wednesday, the wind was just howling. I just got a little bit off with my driver. But, no, I was trying to be ready and rested up for the Masters, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. It took me a day to get over Sunday in Atlanta, but given the weather now, I wish, yeah, I would have played Bay Hill other than Atlanta, just because the weather was so bad in Atlanta. But I played the amount of tournaments I wanted to play leading up. I wish I would have played better at the weekend at, what are they calling Doral now, Genuity --

Q. Joral (phonetic). (Laughter)

DAVIS LOVE III: Doral. Still the same course. The Doral and played a little better at TPC, obviously, but I still feel the same about my swing and my game. Last week I ended up hitting my long irons and fairway woods a little bit better, so I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Q. With regard to a player as talented as Phil Mickelson trying to win his first major, just wondering if you can look back at while you were pressing to win your first one, if you were indeed pressing a little bit and when you finally won at Winged Foot, what kind of a burden that took off of you?

DAVIS LOVE III: So far, it hasn't. I haven't won a whole bunch of them since. I think winning any of them, you realize is hard, I think after you win your first one; that they are still extremely difficult to win, and that you do have to be patient and take your week. Sometimes it takes extraordinary golf to win a major. And in the last, obviously, three years, you've seen one player play extremely well in a lot of them, and it's hard to get your turn when a guy is on a roll like that. You just have to be patient and play your game. I think sometimes we get out there and try to play a game that we are not capable of, rather than just playing our game, which is good enough. You know, Justin Leonard played a great PGA in '97 and he didn't win; so, sometimes -- which I've done it a couple times here, played very well and not won. So you never know when your week is going to be. Sometimes it takes an incredible round, an incredible week and sometimes it just takes playing really good. So you just have to be real patient and let your game come out, and sometimes that's real hard to do.

Q. Of all of the courses that you guys play on, is there any place else that has the potential or being able to come from behind or the ability to have some disasters happen like the back nine here, anything else that comes close?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's -- I don't think the ability to come from, like just do what Jack did and have a bunch of eagle chances like he did in '86. I think the course has become more demanding in the back nine. You know, you are not going to see as many 30s on the back nine as you used to see. But, yeah, as Ken Venturi says: A lot of numbers come into play on 13. You can make from 3 on up. It's a course where there's a lot of risk and reward, and maybe even more than in the past; that you are taking a bigger risk going at 13 or 15 than you used to. But I think there are some courses where you can shoot lower scores, yeah, coming in. But I don't think there's anymore course that -- any course that makes you more intense on every shot on the back nine. Now, if you shoot 3- or 4-under, it is probably like ten years ago shooting 5-, or 6-under; you are going to make up a lot of ground.

Q. Is there more potential for disaster on the back nine at The Stadium Course?

DAVIS LOVE III: I would say you've got more holes here that frighten you than there. You know, when you look at, you've got 11 through 16, where you can get a ball to come off a green and make double real quick. So you are one shot from a birdie and one shot from a double through all of those holes. Even ten, you hit it left of ten on the second shot, you're out in the woods and you've made double there. I would say there is more potential here than the Players Club. There's some that you can make up more ground on maybe, but I don't think there's many that are as intimidating hole to hole, and it is mostly second shots, really, or if you are going for the greens, the second shots on the par 5s.

Q. Finishing with five Top-10s in the last six years here, does that help or does it hurt or is it a mixed bag or what?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it helps. I know that I can shoot a good score around here. I know that I can put four good scores together; that I don't have to go out and figure out how to play this golf course or worry how I'm going to play a hole. It is just a matter of getting out there and doing it. You know, you said earlier, you keep saying "Patience," everybody that comes in here, but that's what it takes. It's a mental test. It's who can handle the chess game and the curveballs that get thrown at you the best and not as much who hits the purest golf shots day-to-day or who hits the best putts. It's who grinds it out and grinds it out the bests and deals with misfortunes the best. That's why you don't see guys for the first time and guys coming in here and winning, or why you don't see -- you don't see anybody but very deserving champions winning here. There's not a whole lot of surprise winners around this course.

Q. If Tiger were to win this course for a major this week, what would you call it?

DAVIS LOVE III: An incredible streak of five of the biggest tournaments in the world in a row. If Bobby Jones had won the two Amateurs and the two Opens not in the same year, would we call that the Grand Slam still? I don't know.

Q. You talked about the 15th green a little bit last week in Atlanta. Can you just explain why that hole is playing harder, especially around the green? Did they add slope to it?

DAVIS LOVE III: 15 in Atlanta?

Q. No. 15 here. Does the green have a little more slope?

DAVIS LOVE III: It is higher up in the air and there's maybe a little less green front-to-back on the left-hand side. So it is more slope off the back left and off the front.

Q. So when they redid it, they changed it a little bit?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a little higher. You know, the ball gets in the water -- I think on the right is probably the same. On the left it gets in the water a lot faster if it comes off the green. But there's no -- you know, there's no saving you if you are short, and then they have made the back behind the green a little tougher; especially on the left, and you get it going over the green left, you know, now you are putting the back water in play. So I think it is a more difficult hole. Even, I've been saying this a couple years, you can look at the record of how many eagles are made. It's probably dropping. The guys aren't making as many eagles. I know that the hole, obviously, is a little harder off the tee now with the trees on the right. It's not as easy to get an eagle putt. I remember just bombing it down there and hitting shots and the green every day and being mad if you didn't have an eagle putt. And now, pin is on the left-hand side of the green, it is hard to make yourself even go at it with a 5-iron or even a 6-iron. You want something that you can hit out there to the right and just try to 2-putt now.

Q. Would you tell me how you've seen Vijay grow as a player and a person on the PGA TOUR?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't know Vijay that well, but he's obviously, everybody knows, a hard worker. We all know he's one of the best players out here. I don't think he got enough credit for how well he played here last year. You know, a lot of things, a lot of great golf has been kind of overshadowed in the last couple of years, a lot of great accomplishments, great shots hit haven't been talked about that much. But Vijay, he's one of the best players in the world, obviously, and he just gets better and better, because he's a hard worker, and to have overcome a couple times not putting very well and to come back and to putt very well, he's an incredible talent. He just seems to get better and better. But there's a lot of guys out here playing some really good golf; that people don't really realize how good they are playing.

Q. Phil mentioned earlier today that part of the mystique here is that you have a chance to see every year, whether it is Jack in '86 or even things like your chip on 16 last year. Things like that seem to happen. Now with Tiger trying to do what he's trying to do, do you guys ever get at all wrapped up in it or think about it?

DAVIS LOVE III: In the history?

Q. All of the things that have happened and what will happen here?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah. That's what makes this place so special. You know, if it moved around and you didn't get that, playing the same hole year after year after year, and remembering shots that were hit and things that happened, yeah, that's why this tournament is so special. It's a club that has a history of great things happening during the tournament and has a great history of the members and the mystique of the course and the membership and the club that, really, no other tournament has. You know, to be able to go out and play -- you know, the holes change, but it's still the same hole that Jack eagled or the same hole that Ben Crenshaw holed a putt on. We just played 17 and we're up there putting the putt that Jack and Ben putted. And we know it is a different patch of grass and maybe it is a little bit different, but it's still where the pin was when Ben made the putt that iced the tournament in '95 and how much it broke, and where Jack made his putt. You can do that, if you can remember six years back at the British Open or ten years back at Pebble Beach, but it doesn't have the year-after-year -- when you do that, you play 16 enough times, somebody is going to hit it way left of the green and get lucky and chip-in or somebody is going to hit it in the right bunker, hole it out, to win the Masters like Freddie did. Things like that can happen because of playing it year after year.

Q. Speaking of that, have you gone back to 16 to try to recreate that one?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, they flattened out the hill, shortly after the tournament two years ago. But Brad was over there chipping today, and he had to lob it a little bit more.

Q. I'm sure you must have read the magazine story last week with the pictures and the camaflage. I guess there was an incriminating paragraph in there about some of your stats on the last day --

DAVIS LOVE III: I thought Hawk was real nice to me. (Smiles)


Q. That one paragraph, the statistics -- I came away with it reading that the perception is that you are a bridesmaid, and I wonder if you are -- if that's how -- if that's fair -- am I reading too much into it?

DAVIS LOVE III: You can look at stats a lot of ways. Duke has only -- only got three National Championships out of how many -- John, Final Fours.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Less times that Dean didn't win.

DAVIS LOVE III: But the way you look at the stats is, well, golly, if a guy has been to the Final Four all these times, or the Braves have been in the playoffs every year in the last nine years and they have only one won one, well, they are the best team in baseball in the last ten years, other than the Yankees. Success is all, if you work hard and you are there a bunch of times and you've got a chance to win; that's what you are asking for. Yeah, I wish I would have won more. I wish I won every week. What do I expect to do? I expect to win a bunch, and I just haven't done it. But, you know, when you look back at whatever tournament, L.A., there's eight or ten guys that should have won that tournament, but only one guy won, because he hit the incredible shot in the playoff and won. Yeah, I wish I would have won a lot more. I wish I would have won more playoffs and I wish I would have closed the door a lot more. But there's probably, in my 15 years of playing out here, there's probably a thousand Tour players that would trade with me. The way I look at it is I have not beaten Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods or Greg Norman or Fred Couples or whoever the No. 1 player in the world is at the time as much as I want, but I've had a chance a hell of a lot more times than anybody else. And when I get on, as I said, to John Hawkins last week or two weeks ago, whenever, when I get on my streak, which I still have the faith that I'm going to get on it, I can win a whole bunch, too. I don't feel like I'm done. If I can just keep getting the chances, like Greg, he keeps getting a chance here; you keep getting the chance, it's going to be his turn to win.

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