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March 3, 2001

Davis Love III


LEE PATTERSON: Davis, thank you for coming up and visiting with us. 69 today. Under some different type conditions, in good position as we head into tomorrow.

DAVIS LOVE III: It did get a little blustery today before we teed off. That is what you expect here generally every day in the afternoons. It is some pretty good wind. But I think we have gotten a reprieve for a few rounds. This is the way we expect to see it. It is a little different direction, but it definitely played tough. The greens dried out real quick and got firm and a little faster, so it was a tough day.

LEE PATTERSON: Any questions?

Q. When you finished you figured these guys coming in would have a tough hall, didn't you?

DAVIS LOVE III: I figured they would have a tough time -- I was a little disappointed I missed the fairway at 17 because I wanted a couple of birdies coming in. I birdied at 18, which is not done a lot, so -- yes, I figured, if the wind kept up - it looks like it is calming a tad now. Obviously if I had a driver, 8-iron into 18, it calmed down but yeah, it is not easy coming in and I saw them both bogey before I got to 18 so you never know on this golf course with 18 left to play.

Q. I realize every stoke is important, are you just as comfortable two or one or two strokes out of the lead going into the last day, as you are tied, one or two up?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I would rather be ahead. You do not feel like you are out of it two or three behind, no. And there may be a little more of a feeling of, being able to play aggressive, less expectations when you go to tee it up, you know, from the outside world, that you are out there a little bit ahead of the focus, you know, and you can get a run going and keep it going. It is not a bad position to be in; not the best one, but it is not bad.

Q. Obviously you were disappointed with what happened last week. How do you prepare yourself for another tournament, then put yourself in this position again?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I was excited to come and play again, because I was playing well, and -- you know, I made some mistakes on the last four holes, but also made some mistakes the 68 holes before it. I did not play perfect all week, and, you know, you know that you do not birdie one a couple times, and you know you miss a couple little putts, you hit a bad drive here or there, that eventually it will come back to haunt you. I did not have a big cushion when the weather got bad at the end. This week I have thrown -- the first day I got a lot out of my round, but the last two days, I have thrown -- just thrown strokes away like they are free. It is a little disappointing. But I am still -- I still play 18 excited that I got a chance and that I can make a birdie, without really looking back until I get done. And then, tonight I will stew about three putts and hitting in the lake at 10 and things like that. If I don't win, I will go back and count the ifs, and they will add up pretty high. But, I am getting better putting all that behind me and going and playing tomorrow with a chance to win. All you have to do is look at the board and see what it says that I am two, three or four back and let's go and play Sunday for all it is worth.

Q. Your mental capacity is borne of the fact that you are continually playing well, putting yourself --

DAVIS LOVE III: I know I can hit good shots rather than wondering if I can hit a good shot or if I can drive it down the middle at 18 and hit an 8-iron and make a birdie, I know I can do that. I just wonder why I miss a fairway at 17 or why I hit a 3-wood in the lake at 10. How can the same guy pipe it on 18, and hit an 8-iron six feet and make it? That is the thing that bothers me. I don't doubt I can go out tomorrow and drive it down the middle at 1 and make a 3. I just wonder why I hit it in the left rough the last two days. But I will go out tomorrow with a good attitude and aggressive, and say, hey, I've made my mistakes for this week and see if we can play a good round.

Q. Would you rather be in that last group?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, I would, because it would mean my score was better. I don't think -- I guess I get to play with Jeff.

Q. They are playing threesomes.


DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, I would not -- threesomes, I may play with Jeff, which is fine with me.

Q. Does the pressure of contending on Sundays get easier? Are you more comfortable with it when you are in it week after week?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it gets more routine. I don't think it gets easier. I think you can -- you can foresee how you will feel, how you are going to react, you know what the pressure will feel like and you know what -- what to watch for, how to handle things better the more you are there. That is what I always say about how important every one of these tournaments is leading up to THE PLAYERS or leading up to The Masters, is getting under the gun and getting used to being under the pressure. Because if you go to THE PLAYERS and all of a sudden on Sunday you are two out of the lead and have not been there for a long time, you are at a disadvantage to the guy who may be playing -- you all might play at the same exact level, but he has been in the hunt four or five times already that year and he knows how his ball is reacting and how he is reacting and where his shots are going under the gun and how far the ball is going; little things like that that do make a difference.

Q. Can you describe the feeling when you get in a stretch like this when you come to the golf course and know you will play well, also, when was the last time you had an extended stretch where you felt as good as you feel now?

DAVIS LOVE III: I would say, like 1991, 1992, 1993, in there, when I had a good streak going. I feel better about my short game and putting probably than I did then. Probably not as good about my ball striking; but, I feel pretty good about my scoring ability right now and my routine and my patience seem to be my strength right now.

Q. Is it a different feeling when you get to the course each day than, say, a year ago; can you compare how your attitude is different?

DAVIS LOVE III: Than a year ago?

Q. Yes.

DAVIS LOVE III: I think I was still searching for a missing little piece. Now I don't feel like I am searching for it. I am trying not to get too excited, or get ahead of myself and think about outcomes or wins or scores. And kind of hold myself back a little bit; before I was trying to get excited, or get some confidence; it was hard to find.

Q. So for about a month, you are not playing great but playing good. Are you accepting that a little bit more? Was there a time when you played great it was a grind to get that extra level that it may have affected your score?

DAVIS LOVE III: I know I am getting a lot out of some rounds and bad shots and scoring good, but I am not playing great. I remember my first year on Tour, staying with Peter Persons (phonetic) and he said, what did you shoot -- he said, how did you play. I said, not very good. What did you shoot. I said, 65. Wait a minute, that does not go together. Yes, it does, I made a lot of saves; all my chances, but scrambled around, hit a lot of bad shots and I scored great, but I did not play that well. So I think what I am doing is scoring very well. Like I made a 20-footer for par at 10; 10-footer for par at 9; and I made -- saved my round at 9 and 10 and gave myself a chance to make some birdies coming in. I did not make them all, but made those two, which were round-killers. I go back to 7-under. I am probably out of the tournament. But, even though -- I missed a little birdie at 11. I birdied 12; made a nice putt at 13 and birdied a couple coming in; next thing you know, I am in it. I am doing those little things maybe I was not before. I would miss the 10-footer for par that would -- at 9 that would kill me, then I'd bogey 10 rather than making a nice putt for par and hanging in there and my round would be, you know, a bad round rather than turns out, it was a pretty good round.

Q. People are talking about, you always have been long - how much longer you are off the tee. Can you say why that is, does that factor into your confidence?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think when you are driving it good, you are excited about it. But, I think the amazing thing to me is I have not gotten any shorter. That is the -- I am still keeping up with the guys out here instead of, you know, 36 years old and playing out here for a long time, you would think you'd start edging your way back a little bit, I have actually picked up a little bit of distance, some because of my swing work and some because of the new ball and new driver. I don't think I picked up really any distance with the 9 7 5 driver from the wood. I might have picked up a little bit of accuracy or control, maybe; but I think now I finally got that metal wood extra distance that everybody always talks about. Plus the new ball, it was great, carries good. That is the thing here, I carry it over everything. It just flies. Does not roll out as quite as much as maybe it should, but I fly it over the bunker, into the wind, 280; it is amazing. My ball has not rolled as far as Langer's or the other guys I play with, but it carries so good. That is the biggest differences, I have not lost anything over the years. Still hitting the same clubs into the greens that I was when I came out, which is -- I think that is saying a lot.

Q. What David went through, David Duval, in early 1999, he talked about the wearying effect of being in contention all the time as compared to having weeks where maybe you are back in the pack, because there is more pressure, more attention, obviously people react to it differently. Are you weary at all by being in contention, or is this energizing for you?

DAVIS LOVE III: For me, I learned to make it energizing. I remember playing with Beth Daniel when she got to No. 1, and won a whole bunch of tournaments. It was obviously clearly was the best player and all the focus was on her. She was kind of -- felt like getting to number 1 was more fun than staying up at No. 1, she did not like all the attention and pressure and added responsibility. I said, I want to get in that position and then enjoy it. So, I have -- always -- the better I played the more excited I got. You have to plan for a lot more things going on. You learn to say, hey, this is where I want to be, rather out on the putting green trying to figure out what went wrong.

Q. You were in contention a lot over the last couple of years without winning. Are you playing much differently than those times where you came close and getting frustrated about not winning?

DAVIS LOVE III: I would say not a whole lot different. Last week was exactly the way I played the last few years. Every day a missed an opportunity, a bad shot or bogey from the middle of the fairway, that was a pretty good example. I thought maybe I had gotten passed that for a stretch, but that's the way -- where I want to be. If everything does not go quite right, I lose in a playoff or screw up the last couple of holes and do not win; if everything is going right, I ought to be able to blow people away. There was a time where I had a few tournaments where I did, you know, walk away with them. You see what Tiger did last year, there was a lot of tournaments he did, he did not win by a nip, he blew them away. I think that is the -- really the difference between playing good and playing great.

Q. Out on the course, is the game a lot more fun for you now than a year ago, even though you are playing well but being asked all these things, is it more fun to be playing?

DAVIS LOVE III: Definitely is more fun. The Presidents Cup was kind of a turning point for me, where Vegas, I did not play well and got very frustrated with my game. The Presidents Cup, it kind of came back through some soul searching and some talks with friends like Brad Faxon and, next thing you know, I am working my way back into it. I saw some good results there. Obviously, at the Williams, things really started coming around. So, it is hard to get the confidence sometimes; but once you get it, sometimes it is hard to shake it, too.

LEE PATTERSON: Very good. Thank you.

DAVIS LOVE III: I hope I did not sign for that.


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