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March 22, 2000

Davis Love III


LEE PATTERSON: We appreciate you coming and spending some time with us this afternoon. I know you have had a chance to see the golf course. Got a challenging week ahead of you. Maybe just a couple comments about that and the strength of the field. I know we have talked about that too.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we sat in this room last night at the meeting. You could tell obviously it is a very strong field, and all the best in the world are here. And that is what has made this tournament so exciting. And obviously the golf course gets better and better condition-wise. And it seems to get harder and harder. I think they made it very fair this year. Cut down a lot of that tangly rough we complained about last year. But they figured out a way to make it thick. It is awful thick. It is going to be tough. You are going to want to hit the fairways. Greens are just -- I don't know. Probably everybody has been saying they are as good as you can get them. Hopefully they don't get too hard fast, but they are very, very good. Fred has done a great job again. . Obviously, they have taken some time to shut the course down and get rid of a lot of the divots and ball marks, because it is just in fabulous shape. We are all excited about it.

Q. A lot of momentum coming in to the tournament, Davis, how are you playing right now getting ready for this championship?

DAVIS LOVE III: I feel pretty good. Hitting the ball fairly consistently. I am still hitting the odd shot, like most people do every once in a while. But I have got a lot of confidence and seem to be playing pretty well. Just need to put four rounds together. I haven't done that in a while. I have played a good round here or there, but haven't put four together. So that is what I am looking for this week.

Q. Have you all been able to put THE PLAYERS Championship crystal to use since you have won it?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah. I got a lot of it. It is a nice prize. And it's always a nice reminder after a great week, that is for sure.

Q. Did you know you were going to get it?


Q. Were you, will you talk about putting four rounds together, which you say that has been the one problem this year. Does that put more pressure on you the first round? I mean if you go out tomorrow and shoot 73, is this -- can you still?

DAVIS LOVE III: Like last week, went out first round, shot 72 on the easiest day of the week. And yeah, it doesn't do you any good. Gets you behind the game. But that is one of the things that has always been one of my problems is not getting off to a great start earlier in the week or sometimes early in a round. When I get close to the lead or am in the lead, I play pretty well. But sometimes on Thursdays or a Saturday, when you are not around the lead, I don't play quite as well with as much focus or whatever. Yeah, it's harder, especially in a tournament like this, where if you get behind, it is hard to make up ground. You want to get off to a good start. And I think maybe a bigger tournament like this or The Masters coming up, it is easier to be right there on Thursday than it is the rest of the weeks of the year, but you don't.

Q. More focus the first day?

DAVIS LOVE III: You can get a little bit more excited and nervous; little bit more focused. But that is going to be the key here, I think, is being consistent all week, because it is going to take a lot of patience and a lot of good golf shots to play this course.

Q. This time of year with your really do very well here and at Augusta then obviously at Hilton Head. Having played so well the last few weeks, does that make you even more confident going into the stretch?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I have been working hard this year on getting my swing in good shape for the summer, which basically, starting in Orlando, kind of what I was shooting for to get ready for this week, and then The Masters obviously, and then the rest of the summer. So I feel pretty good about it. It was nice to -- I went out on the West Coast with a swing change and came through it pretty well. And I am getting, gaining confidence week to week, so, I am pretty excited about it. It is nice when you get in an area that you are accustomed to. We never see greens quite this pure and fast around here but I am used to this kind of grass and this kind of conditions. I like this time of year.

Q. I don't know how much, how many newspaper magazine articles you read, but do you feel like you are getting singled out for having been defeated by Tiger in these Saturday/Sunday stretches? Maybe you look at it as a situation where you just happen to be in contention, you are playing pretty good, and just happens to be the same weeks?

DAVIS LOVE III: But there is -- a lot of other guys that can take on my second and third and fourths if I hadn't won them. There is, you know, I play the same tournaments as him. And if I play well, you are going to run up against him, if he is playing well -- but there is a lot of tournaments that he has won that I haven't even been close in, so he has not beaten me every time. He has beaten the whole field every time. And I think that is what we are all looking at. Doesn't matter if you finish second or if you finish -- Ernie Els last week, whatever he finished, he had just as much a chance to win teeing up on Thursday as I did. There is a lot of guys, if they put four rounds together, are going to win a golf tournament, last week or this week, or next week. But I have been second to him and to some other guys, you know. People made a big deal about last week. Well, I had two even par 72s, I am not supposed to win no matter who wins, if you shoot 72 twice. The thing that bothers me finishing second to Jose Maria last year at The Masters, that bothered me. And 75 on Saturday at the Honda bothered me, but, you know, I played two good rounds last week and I am making progress and I just -- I just keep ending up in the last group and not playing well with a lot of guys; not just Tiger. I haven't won in two years almost, a month from two years, so it is not just him. It has been whoever, David Duvals and whoever else has won, Jim Furyks - I haven't beaten anybody.

Q. Are you trying to even out this situation where I think you said at Honda you shoot 75; then next day you break -- tie the course record, so would you trade a couple of the 64s for maybe a few more steady 68s and 69s?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it would be nice -- like last week it would have been nice to just play a good solid round everyday and improve everyday. I didn't. I was kind of up and down, up and down at Honda, but I like the low ones because that shows that the really good game is there. Just got to get it to come out every day. I have been hitting the ball better and better and better and last week I learned a lot about my game, and my swing and how it's reacting and worked real hard yesterday with Jack on improving what I have been working on. It's real, real close and, you know, like I said, there is a lot of guys out here that love to be finishing second, third, and fourth and getting beaten by like Duval and Tiger at the Match Play, I beat everybody but, you know, two of the best in the world. So I am hanging in there with the group that I want to be with and when I do win, it will be that much more satisfying.

Q. Talking about last weekend, we were a little surprised when Colin Montgomerie was in here and he said after Tiger shot the 69 first round that he thought the tournament was over?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, that is probably why he finished 20th or 30th.

Q. Doesn't that surprise you a guy ranked that high that would, you know, say that that early in a four-day tournament, I mean, I know Tiger has his aura about him, but doesn't seem to --

DAVIS LOVE III: To be honest with you, when Vijay shot 68, I thought here he goes again because when he gets out to when, he is playing well, he is hard to beat. I played with him at the Honda and he was not happy with his game and he was pounding a lot of balls. I said one of these next few weeks Vijay is going to bust lose; sure enough, next week he comes out with a good round, isn't that what he shot, 68?

Q. Tough conditions --

DAVIS LOVE III: I got it in the morning, so, I felt like I let that one get away from me that morning. Then he shoots 68, I thought, here he goes. It's a little early to -- I shot 72 whatever I shot the second day, 5-under, and I didn't feel like I was out of it. You always think you can shoot a couple low ones on the weekend or at least I do.

Q. How frustrated are you and how frustrated do you sense the guys are getting about the autograph situation and is the policy board planning to address that in any way or is it possible to address it in any way?


Q. The multiple items I am talking about.

DAVIS LOVE III: Those things, it is out of control. Some of the tournaments have been very good about throwing those guys out. I have had to -- not arguments, but discussions with them today. They said why won't you sign my flag. Because I signed one for you last week. He said, well, but I come to every golf tournament. I said, I know you come to every golf tournament to get autographs to sell them. It's the same guys. I told one guy a couple of weeks ago, I am not stupid, if I see you week after week after week with a 100th U.S. Open flag, I am going to figure it out. So I have been on him for four, five years and it is just now just getting -- I mean, maybe you guys know who buys these things? I mean, how many Davis Love 100th U.S. Open flags can you sell? I wouldn't think very many.

Q. You put them on Ebay, you got an unlimited number of internet people who buy them.

Q. We have got a lot of money out here.

DAVIS LOVE III: Let's work out a deal we will cut out the middleman. But I don't know what to do. You got here, especially a tournament like this, which is a different fan atmosphere than like The Masters or the U.S. Open. You got a bunch of little kids out here today. I guess it is spring break, whatever it is last week, and you want to sign the little 6 or 8 year old kids autograph, but then there is all these guys with these boards and these flags sticking them over your shoulder. It is not right. Jeff Sluman said one time: If a guy can make money off me, more power to him. But it's not. It is all day long Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and you can tell they buy one day ticket and, you know, they don't watch any golf. But it is very frustrating and you know, you look at a guy like Chipper Jones who only signs things authentic; doesn't just walk around signing autographs because he doesn't know who is who. That is a tough call. I have talked to Chipper about it. I am like, well, I'd like to be able to do that, but I also want to be able to sign this 8 year old kid's that I run into in the parking lot. So it is a tough thing. You can't make -- I have just gone just making a judgment call. If I don't like the way the guy looks, I just don't sign it. That might not be right, but if a guy has got a backpack or bag or football in one hand and he has got a baseball in another hand, I just don't sign.

Q. Are they starting to use kids?

DAVIS LOVE III: They have been using kids for a long, long time. A little girl came up to me at Torrey Pines and she said, would you please sign my card. It was an Augusta National score card. I said: Is your daddy a member of Augusta National? She said, no. I said: Where did you get this score card. Guy right over there. I said, I wouldn't sign it. She came back with a Winged Foot score card. They are stealing from golf clubs and using kids to get the pros' autographs. If you can make money selling autographs that is fine, but stealing something -- you know what is worse, we don't -- what is worse IS they get your address off the internet; it just piles and it is the same people over and over and over. I don't know what you do. Just throw it away or, but anyway...

Q. Was it brought up at the players' meeting?

DAVIS LOVE III: Really nothing that the TOUR can do except on site go and hand select guys and throw them out. Which our security guys obviously around Tiger or David or myself, they know how to move us around, but it will get to the point where a Tiger Woods just does not sign autographs because it is too onerous on his time.

Q. If I might change a direction just a minute, your dad was very progressive. He was known as one of the best teachers. He was known as one of the best club pros and he saw a lot of talent in you, but do you think in his wildest dreams that he would ever dream that you could win over $12 million and be second on the career money list right now?

DAVIS LOVE III: We never would think that there would be that much money to play for in golf back when I started. It is really amazing that the winner this week will make over a million dollars for one week. It really is unbelievable. But no, when I came out Tom Kite was a guy I looked up to and a guy I tried to emulate and it was a pretty big day for me not getting past Greg Norman, anybody else on the all-time money list, but going past Tom Kite because that was the kind of consistency and the kind of long career I was looking for, so -- I don't know if the way Tiger is going if I will ever get back past him, but good week this week or good week at The Masters and jump back up there again. It's been a fun chase trying to get to the top.

Q. What is your thoughts about this tournament being played in May?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, it goes back and forth. The nice thing about my argument always in policy board meetings when somebody brings it up is if it's before The Masters, it gets more publicity than if it's after it, stuck in between The Masters and U.S. Open; kind of almost stands on its own a little bit as a premier event. But I think it has gotten to the point now where you can play it February, March, May, you know, end of June, whenever, I mean, it's the best field in golf and that or the PGA Championship, so -- but it would be nice. We have had a lot of discussions but, you know, there is a whole lot of other issues, TV and condition of the golf course, and things like that. They are wondering if we got to go all the way past the overseed time in this part of the country to get to the good grass and that may be risking a cold winter and a bad transition and next thing, instead of it being perfect in May, it is perfect the beginning of June. So it would be harder to get it in this good a condition in May.

Q. When was the last time you talked about that?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it comes up, I would say, once a year; at least that it is discussed. Contrary to what 8 or 10 players say, we do take ideas and run them in front of the board. Even if it is the same idea over and over again, we still talk about it. I think maybe in the next TV negotiations, it may come up again. I know it did in the last TV negotiations of when is the best time to stage this and how can you set up your TV schedule that is a little more logical, but, you know, it's working pretty good where it is. It is gaining in stature and the course gets better and better; has an incredible field. I think overall sentiment last time was don't mess with a good thing.

Q. Does playing Augusta get frustrating year after year or does it make you more determined year after year that you are going to kick one of those in?

DAVIS LOVE III: The more I play it the more I want to win it, yes.

Q. You haven't gotten discouraged at all?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I have gotten disappointed. I wouldn't say discouraged. I have definitely been disappointed there a bunch. But I haven't gotten discouraged. I have never said: I am never going to come back and play here or I have never said this is so unfair, I am not going to do it. But it's definitely, you know, I have definitely let a few get away there. I have let some get away. But it is a golf course that, you know, guys that hit it a long way always have a chance and so you feel like you go in there, doesn't matter really how you are playing before, if you can get the putter hot with your length you have a chance. It's one that I would really -- it would be more satisfying probably than anything at this point because I had been so close.

Q. Anything that you are working on right now to prepare yourself this week for The Masters?

DAVIS LOVE III: These greens will definitely be a good preparation playing the faster greens, they are a little bit faster than last week. I am just working on getting in the hunt. That is the main thing. Fred Couples caddie was teasing Freddie every time I hit a good shot he said, see, he has been playing. Freddie hadn't been playing that much. That is how you get ready, I think as you play -- I have always tried to play a steady schedule all through the year so I was always pretty fresh and that is kind of why I laid out my schedule skipping Doral, playing Honda, Bay Hill, and here and having next week to kind of take a breath; then be ready for Augusta. But I have done what I wanted to do. I have gotten in the hunt a couple of times and, you know, checked my game out and see what I need to work on between now and then.

Q. You have to figure out a way to avoid going down the wire with these sentimental favorites, at Augusta?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. Yeah, former champions are hard to beat at Augusta. I have made my mistakes around there and hopefully I have learned from them and I seem to get more and more comfortable there. I have got a few good friends that are members that have taken me up there during the year and played just to get me more comfortable around the club and around the course. I may even slip up there the middle of the week next week just to knock the excitement off early before you get there. But I think the more comfortable I get, the better I am playing coming in, then I have just as good a chance as anybody.

Q. You got in on a last minute qualifier once into Augusta. You understand how big a thrill it is to get the automatic invitation by winning. Without that as part of the invitation process, do you think that ought to be readdressed and is it a shame that it is no longer part of it?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it is a neat way to get in. It was a neat way to get in, but not to defend their position because a lot of our players don't like it, but when we had -- when they came up with that there was one tournament every week and now there is six tournaments played opposite events with the top players. So they were either going to have to draw a line of, you know, you are going to end up giving us, you know, eventually 50 winners and our field is just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. They were a little worried about having one event over here with all the top players and another event over here and maybe the winners of this tournament were not as good as the winners of this tournament. That was not -- maybe not what they were looking for. So I understand their position and I also understand the players. It was a nice tradition. It was pretty neat when I wanted to get in. It is kind of nice them holding a hotel room and somebody actually getting to use it. But things change and I can see their field was growing steadily. They were cutting amateurs out to accommodate the growth of the field of the pros which, you know, if I had one thing, I don't like what they have changed, not as many amateurs get in as they used to. That was kind of a special thing. I remember my dad got in probably, Peter, is it quarterfinals? I think quarterfinalist was where it started; then it went to semis. Then next thing you know they said, well, maybe we will let the U.S. Amateur champion in. But it is a tough subject because you know basically they can -- if they don't like -- if guys complain enough they just won't have the tournament. So got to kind of take their rules.

Q. What is your plans after Augusta, MCI Greensboro?

DAVIS LOVE III: Planning on playing Hilton Head and Greensboro and then probably the Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth and New Orleans going to have to plan around the horse show schedule this summer for my little girl because I missed some big ones last year, so -- but I will probably definitely play New Orleans and Colonial and then probably Westchester and get ready for the U.S. Open.

Q. You mentioned earlier your success during this stretch of the year. Would that be about as good a time as any to end the two years without a victory?

DAVIS LOVE III: Be fine with me. This week or next week, but you know this week is a big, big week. Then that is why I want to have a week off; regroup for The Masters, but this is what you always point to the next big one and this is it. This is -- I was talking to David Duval about him winning this tournament, this is the best field. It takes a lot to win it. I think as years go by I appreciate my win here more and more and when you see guys like Justin and David how thrilled they are with it, friends that win, it has become an important event. Now what do you call it? I don't know. But it is the best field in golf and it is our tournament and it is a great golf course and a great Championship, so it would be great to win here. I have been getting closer and closer. I just have to be patient, I think is the main thing, and not try to win this tournament but just go out and play it. Play my game, not pay attention to anything that is going on in the leaderboard and just play.

Q. What did Mark hit on 17?

DAVIS LOVE III: He hit 8-iron, nice shot finally.

Q. Which one of the guys was closest?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. Maybe Joe.

Q. That is what I wondered.

DAVIS LOVE III: None of them seem to get it on the top, so they were all on the sides.

Q. How many tournaments is Mark going to caddie for you here?

DAVIS LOVE III: He will probably do probably eight total this year. The majors and a few other World Golf Championships and probably Tiger's tournament. 6 or 8 at least.

End of FastScripts...

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