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March 19, 2000

Davis Love III


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: All right, Davis Love is in the interview room. With his runner-up finish today he takes the top spot on the Bay Hill all-time money list. Let's begin with a few comments.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I obviously didn't play the way I wanted to play today. Two bogeys in a row, twice, and then not birdieing the par 5s just killed me. You know, you get down 3, 4, 5 to Tiger, you're just got going to win plain and simple. I got a little frustrated after 3-putting 14, and it was nice to birdie the last hole after -- after losing my patience a little bit. But he played well. He did what he had to do. He drove the ball in the fairway. He laid up off some tees and put the ball in the middle of the greens and never really came close to getting into trouble; so he played well and did what he had to do.

Q. What did you hit on the 2nd hole?


Q. Kind of a bad break to start the day?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I was thinking that for a while today. 2, 3, 4 and 6, I got bad lies. Then I started telling myself at the turn, "You know, if you'd hit it in the fairway and in the middle of the green you wouldn't get bad lies. So then I started playing a little better. But it was kind of frustrating that I didn't have one teed up for me on any of those holes that I could get up-and-down. That ball on 3, that's twice that I've hit it between the pin and the green and it's gone in the water. But I'm just making silly mistakes. I'll put three balls in the water at the 3rd hole and you're not going to beat Tiger Woods playing like that. Put one in off the tee the first day, which I don't think I've ever done. You know, I didn't birdie the par 5s, and all week, I made bogeys with, you know, 9-irons and 6-irons and sand wedges from either par 3 tees or the middle of the fairways, and that's just not going to get it. You know, I played two good rounds. I got close enough to have a shot and I didn't play well today. You know, just one of these days I need to put four together against him.

Q. When you birdied 10 and 11 and hit the big drive on 12, did you think there was a chance it could get going then?

DAVIS LOVE III: If I hit a good shot into 12 and birdied 13, yeah, that was my chance and I didn't take advantage of it. I was trying to hit it in there close when I should have been just trying to hit it in the middle of the green.

Q. At 12?

DAVIS LOVE III: At 12. And that's where it got me. Same thing at 4. I'm trying to hit a 4-wood close at 4, rather than put it on the green and 2-putt for birdie and not lose ground. Sometimes that's when he makes you do. When you get behind, you start trying to hit miracle shots and you don't pull them off. I was steadily gaining confidence, and then hit that 3-iron in there right of the green and didn't get up-and-down, and then that just kind of stops your momentum.

Q. Is there pressure on the par 5s, because you just assume he's going to make birdie on them?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you know, today, I played a lot longer shots into three of the four of them than he did. That's a little bit of a disadvantage. You know, I've taken the attitude going out there with him is hey I'm going to hit first into every hole probably except for the par 3s; so you might as well take advantage of it. I just haven't done it. I stood out there on 8 -- I mean, on 3 and hit and hit it in the lake. 4, hit it right of the green in the deep rough. And 6, I had a chance to knock it on the green or get a place where I could get an easy up-and-down and didn't do it. And again at 12, you know, I'm just not taking advantage of the opportunities. When you're hitting first, that's what I said in the match play. I said I'm going to get up there and hit every ball close before he does. I just didn't do it. You know, it's a lot easier game when you're ahead and the other guy is missing greens and not putting pressure on you. You know, then he just stands it up there and knocks it in the middle of the green and 2-putts on 4 -- I didn't make it hard on him. And that's what I was saying yesterday; somebody has to make it hard on him, or else, you know, he just hit a fat one -- fabulous shot into the middle of the green after another, in that wind. He never really short-sided himself, except for 13. I mean, that ball was past pin-high and just right, just got a lot of spin on it. That's the only shot every really came close to putting it in the wrong place. But he wasn't stiffing it, because he was, you know, playing to the sides like he should. He did a very good job.

Q. On 12, you hit a ball -- how long did you hit your drive on 12?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you didn't watch Tiger's because it went 20 by me.

Q. That's why I was asking. How long was yours?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know how far it was. When I hit it, I said that was my best one. I hope he doesn't hit one like he did on 4 and outdrive me by 20 or 30 again, but he did. On 4, he hit it 50 yards by me. It was just astounding, because I hit a nice, high cut. It didn't go anywhere, but it was right in the middle of the fairway and he hit it -- I'm not exaggerating, 50 yards past me, and it really is amazing. Like on 6, he hit it probably 20 yards farther around the corner than me and went through the fairway, and I hit a great drive at 6. I told him the next time, just go over to the lay-up area and just hit it all the way across. Why bother.

Q. On 12, what was the iron?

DAVIS LOVE III: I hit a 3 and he probably hit a 5.

Q. But there was a time when you were extremely long when you first came out on the TOUR. Right now if you wanted to could you go back to that a little bit and hit almost as long as Tiger?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. Honestly, when I'm catching it solid, which I didn't catch it solid all day today, but I hit a lot of good ones today. When I'm hitting like I am, there's not very many guys that hit it farther and I haven't really lost anything. He's just -- he's just that much longer, is all there is to. I mean, I've played with guys that do the same thing. "You're outdriving me by about 40 yards on every hole, this isn't fair." And you play with him and he hits it by. There's very few guys that I get out there with and say I cannot keep up. There's a few of them that they get it out there just past me, but, you know I certainly can hit one by him during the day. I don't expect to ever hit one by Tiger unless he pops it up.

Q. What you experienced today playing with Tiger, do you think that's going to help you at the Masters?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. You know, I know that I played -- I played two good rounds, and kept it at least in the ball game a couple times. If I play four good rounds, I can compete. I know that. I've known that before today. But you know, it doesn't matter who it is. I haven't put four good rounds together in quite a while; so that's what I'll need there.

Q. Did Tiger take the whole tree line out of play on the right at 12? Did he go over those trees?

DAVIS LOVE III: He kind of winded down it, but he has to. If he goes straight, the way the fairway is set up -- I have to go a little bit, he has to go a fair amount or he's going to go up the hill on the left downwind like it was today.

Q. As much as you've seen of Tiger over the last three or four years, can you talk about the control he has in his game?

DAVIS LOVE III: He's just controlling his irons. Like I talked about yesterday, controlling the distance, controlling the flight. He's knocking the ball down into the wind, rather than putting it up in the air. That 2-iron, he just smokes that 2-iron low or that 4-wood low when he's into the wind. And he hits the -- hits the ball the right distance into the greens, into the wind or downwind, and he's just got good controlling of his distance right now.

Q. You talked yesterday about not trying hard like you used to do against Fred Couples, and today you just talked about him driving it way past you. How well did you deal with today, with that -- that Tiger intimidation factor, were you aware of yourself trying to deal with it?

DAVIS LOVE III: I did pretty good today. I just didn't play well. I think emotionally I did a good job. I just hit three or four shots in a row at the wrong times. You know, didn't hit a good shot into 2 or 3 or 4, and then I didn't hit a good shot into 12 or 13 or 14 -- or 15, and then it just killed me a couple stretches. But overall, I felt better out there, and the putts I hit felt pretty good. You know, I'm certainly not happy with the result.

Q. Did you feel yourself pressing at all?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I didn't. Not any more than normal. I just played a -- you know a mediocre round like I did on Thursday. I felt very much like Thursday, like I couldn't just quite get it going.

Q. Do you think Tiger has raised the bar on how well you and other players feel you have to play to win a tournament now?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think he's playing everybody's A Game every week. You know, Ernie Els could have just as easily shot 18- or 19-under here if he'd have played well. But he looks like that every week right now, but he's just much more consistent. You know, I might go next week and shoot 15-under and win, but he's been doing it week after week after week after week. I think that's the difference. Remember when he used to grade himself? He's about an A-Minus right now every week, and an A-Plus some weeks and that's pretty, you know -- if Ernie Els played up to his potential every week, or I did or Fred Couples, we'd shoot low scores week after week after week. Just mentally right now, he's got the advantage.

Q. Is that as well as you've ever seen anybody drive the ball?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, I can't think of one hole that he missed the fairway, maybe 2. Yeah, he had good control over it.

Q. North Carolina beat Stanford today. Did you talk any about that during the round?

DAVIS LOVE III: We got scores all day. And he couldn't believe that they kept getting farther and farther behind. At least I can enjoy that tonight (Laughter.) I don't think he's going to worry too much about it, though.

Q. When did you find out that you had at least won that? Was it 11 or 12?

DAVIS LOVE III: 11, actually Roger told us we were 2-down with six (minute) to go on 10 fairway. And then next, I heard we were 2-up or 1-up, and then he told us we were 4-up with 26 seconds to go. That was on 11.

Q. Davis, how much was Payne's presence felt here this week?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's certainly missed, and, you know, something different every week. This week, it's his hometown and where we're used to him screaming up in his little light blue Porsche and asking us to come over and hang out with him at his house. But at Hilton Head it will be the same thing. I mean, he's so much a part of -- like last week, this guy in the locker room is just -- I mean he was devastated that he just -- every day, he would say: "See the sign I made," or "he was such a good guy." Just every week, there's something. You know, I think that's good, because it keeps us remembering that there's a lot of families out there that when the TOUR comes to town, makes it tough on them, rather than where it used to be fun when the TOUR came to town. And then when it leaves, it probably makes it worse. But yeah, he's missed, a lot. Not just this week, but certainly a little more this week.

End of FastScripts….

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