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June 8, 2000

Davis Love III


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Davis Love III for joining us in the interview room. He shot a 5-under 66. Let's just begin with a few comments on your round.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, obviously a good score on this course. Pretty tough golf course and the wet conditions made it play a little longer probably than it was earlier in the week. But it was a good round, and I was lucky to get off and get at least a few holes in before the wind started blowing. I guess it was probably about the turn when it started blowing hard, and, you know, I'm very pleased with a good start.

Q. Do you anticipate the scores being higher because of the wind in the afternoon?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, maybe a little bit. We got, like I said, probably six or seven holes without any appreciable wind and then it started blowing. You know, I think guys will still shoot pretty good scores because the greens are so good, and they are not real hard, yet. They may get hard Saturday or Sunday.

Q. Is this a good course to warm up for the U.S. Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: Any traditional-style golf course, any real good golf course like this is a good warm up, where there's deep rough and a lot of long par 4s. You know, making birdies is very hard. But the grass here is very similar to what we'll be putting on at Pebble. Hard to believe, but it is a very similar type grass, and the deep rough. If it gets a little firmer, it will be very much U.S. Open conditions.

Q. So many of the top players are playing this week, as opposed to last week. You look at it and say maybe if it rains on Sunday things can become a little sticky there. Why do you think so many guys are playing this week, as opposed to maybe taking a week off and going out to Pebble early?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think a lot of guys like to play and get ready, just compete. There's no -- no substitute for playing -- playing competitive golf. You can play all you want this weekend at Pebble, but the guys playing here under the gun are really playing golf. You know, if you get out there -- if it was, you know, some golf course we had never played before out in California, it would be different. But the majority of the guys playing here are guys that play Pebble and are used to it. You know, I don't need to get there Monday and figure out which way the holes go. It's just get used to the chipping and the putting. The rough is obviously going to be a little deeper and the greens a firm ir. But I've got all my lines on the tee. I just have to hit it a little straighter than I do during the AT&T.

Q. Do you think some of the course similarities are part of the reasons, obviously?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think if Kemper was the week before the Open, there would be less guys playing because that course doesn't really prepare you as well for the Open as this one does. I think, again, this style golf course is very, very good to play on.

Q. This is the time of year, obviously, you want to start playing your best golf. How is your golf game? Give us a read on how you are playing.

DAVIS LOVE III: Pretty good. I've been pretty consistent. I've been happy with everything. I'm swinging pretty well. I'm making a few putts. I feel like I'm very close to where I want to be for the Open.

Q. Looking ahead at how close you could be to having a really big year, I mean, you've already had a lot of top finishes and close to being where you want to be, do you still feel like this could be a really big year for you?

DAVIS LOVE III: All it would take would be win this week and win next week and it would be a huge year. (Laughter.) But you're right. It's real close. A U.S. Open and another -- winning another tournament or winning the British Open could make it a great year. And you forget about a lot of close calls as soon as you win one. You know nobody is really talking about Phil Mickelson's year last year; they are talking about he's won three time this is year. If I can win a couple times and add to what I've already done, yeah, it could be a great year. But to be a great year it would winning one of the next three majors. That's what it's all about.

Q. How important is it for you personally to play well here going into the Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I like to think that every time I play, I play the same way: Play to win. So it's important to me to have a chance to win, and to be around on the weekend, and, you know, get as close to the lead as I can. Get nervous and play some good, competitive golf over the weekend, and then, you know, then I'll would be worry about the Open next week. But right now, try to win this one, and if I'm in the running here, it will help me next week.

Q. Because of what you achieved over the years, has this game gotten any easier mentally or easier than maybe ten years ago?

DAVIS LOVE III: Maybe 10 or 12 years ago. I don't think it's easier. I think I'm more experienced. But as far as hitting the ball and putting, I don't think it ever get any easier. I think the mental side might get a little easier. Easier to get your confidence back when you lose it or easier to control your game. But I think physically, it gets harder and harder because the guys are getting better and better and the courses are getting longer and the rough is getting deeper and I'm getting older.

Q. I'm sure you've played with Jimenez in the past, can you talk about his game at all?

DAVIS LOVE III: I haven't really played with him a lot. But he's, obviously, a very, very good player and very steady. He's got a good short game. But I may have played with him once or twice but not enough to know that much about him. But he's obviously -- he plays good a lot, year after year. So a pretty steady player.

Q. Do you have any good feelings for this area because of what happened three years ago at Winged Foot?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I like playing here. No matter what happened at Winged Foot I like playing in this area because the golf is so good. A lot of good courses. I played nine holes over at Winged Foot yesterday. It's inspiring to be playing around here. And being a small part of the history at Winged Foot, people are so nice to me over there. It's one of my favorite places to play, for sure.

Q. Do you still look back and are sort of amazed, people were talking a couple under would win it, and then what you shot at Winged Foot

DAVIS LOVE III: I think we talk a lot about different tournaments and scores that guys shoot, and, you know, we're talking about Maruyama's 58 this week and things like that, and Tiger's Masters and great scores that are shot. But I think that one will keep coming back, because what Justin and I did, separating ourselves from the field, and then I put another good round on Sunday, that was not what anybody expected on that golf course. And I think that's why that win is so special to me, not only was it Winged Foot, not only was it the PGA Championship, but how it was won. You know, that was -- kind of blew the course away a little bit on a course you didn't think it was possible to do it on. That gives me confidence when I come to a place like this that I can play well in tough-conditioned golf courses better than could I in the past.

Q. You mentioned Maruyama's 58. What's been the general chatter around the TOUR about his score?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, everybody is obviously amazed with it. And, you know, they have talked a lot about if there was a place to shoot 59, that was the course to do it on, because guys were getting used to it and playing it a lot in the qualifying. But nobody had said 58; so it was pretty amazing. It doesn't matter how long a course is or how wet a course is; you've still got to make an awful lot of putts. That really is an incredible score.

Q. A lot of players have different philosophies on how they schedule their events and stuff, especially between the U.S. Open and the British Open. What's your philosophy for this year between those two events and how much time you'll take off?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm going to try to play a little bit. It's hard to play the week before, over here, and travel.

But I think I'm going to try to play a little bit in between. One, maybe two. And I'm going to go over early and play some at Turnberry and Troon before the Open and get everything ready get the time change over with. It works all different ways. I've arrived on Tuesday over there before and played pretty good. So if you're playing good, you can overcome about anything. I think my theory has always been just keep playing year-round and never really take, you know, huge breaks and try to always be playing. Because if I go home between the U.S. and the British Open, I'm going to sit around. I'm going to fish a lot and goof off. But if I know I'm going to play at Hartford and I'm going to play wherever, somewhere else, Western, I'll practice and I'll be ready. And obviously when you go to the tournaments, you're playing and practicing. So I try to stay out there and play as much as I can.

Q. Would you take a little look at Pebble, how you played there, what it takes to win there?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think, again, we're used to Pebble. We're lucky we get to play it every year. I think it will take somebody driving the ball really, really well and hitting -- being very precise with their irons because the greens are going to be tougher to get the ball close to than we're used to. And obviously in the Open, it comes down to scrambling, who can get the ball up-and-down and make putts and be patient. That's what I'm looking forward to is my most patient, you know, U.S. Open, just not going to let myself get frustrated and just play the golf course and take what you get. A U.S. Open is not only just a golf test; it's a mental test and you try to win that battle this year.

Q. You talked about playing the Hartford. That's a tournament that gets a lot of people every day, and it seems like the people are right on you. What's your feeling about tournaments like that, and I know there are a few others where they get so many people and it's kind of noisy, as a player is that difficult to play under those circumstances?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think we do have a few that are known for being rowdier than others. But Hartford, I played there last year and they had a lot of people but they were pretty -- pretty well-behaved golf fans. I think we just need to do a better job of educating. We're getting a lot of new fans and just like -- just like NASCAR, they are getting a lot of new fans that are learning about the sport because they think it's fun to watch. And golf is becoming more fun to watch and more of a -- an in sport to watch on TV or in person. And we just need to do a better job of educating fans and saying, "We want you to come out and have fun, but here's 's how to do it." If I've never been to a tennis match and watched, I don't know when it's nice to talk and when it's not nice to talk and when you can get up and walk out and when you can't. So I don't expect people that have never watched a golf tournament to walk out and not know to not talk to the players and not take pictures of them or not make noise. So the better job we do of educating the fans, you know we can handle bigger and bigger crowds.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go over your birdies and bogeys.

DAVIS LOVE III: Started on the front, 2. Hit a driver off the tee and a pitching wedge to about 10 feet and made it. 3 was a 3-wood and an 8-iron to about 15 feet. No. 6, hit a pitching wedge about 25 feet behind the hole and made it. 7, I made a bogey, hit it left up under the tree, and punched it out short of the green and pitched it up about six feet by and missed it. And then 9, a driver in the left bunker. A 4-wood just on the front fringe and pitched up about 30 feet and made it for birdie. And then a big string of pars until 17. Hit a 4-wood off the tee, a pitching wedge to about 12 feet and made it. And then 18, a driver and 3-wood to about 20 feet and 2-putted.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you very much.

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