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March 8, 2000

Davis Love III


NELSON LUIS: We have Davis Love III with us today. You are the winner of 13 PGA TOUR victories, obviously looking to revisit the winners's circle after getting shut out last year. Still playing pretty well. Obviously this year always started off with a good golf game. Why don't you maybe talk a little bit about your thoughts heading into this week.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, this is the kickoff for Florida for me so I am excited about that. Ready to get back on grass and courses that I am used to even though I haven't played here yet I am used to these kind of greens and this kind of golf course setup, so I am looking forward to this swing through the rest of Florida and obviously getting ready for THE PLAYERS and The Masters.

NELSON LUIS: Questions.

Q. Will you play right through to the Masters? Will you skip Atlanta?

DAVIS LOVE III: I am going to skip Atlanta.

Q. Any comment on the Martin ruling?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, we are, as you probably know, I am policy board member, so meeting next week at Bay Hill, got our first policy board meeting in the year, so, we will discuss it there and see what the next step is for us, which I don't know if anybody knows what it is.

Q. Any kind of action you guys can take? What can you do?

DAVIS LOVE III: We will have to discuss that next week. I don't know what you can do 'til everybody looks at it.

Q. Impression for the first time playing this course?

DAVIS LOVE III: I played yesterday, most of the holes yesterday. I think I like it a lot better than what I thought it was going to be like. I think the stories -- the opinion has gotten blown out of proportion. Everybody made it worse than it really is. I think it is a flat piece of land and no matter what you do, it is going to be basically a pretty flat golf course and until stuff gets built up around it, there is not much view around it, but I enjoy the course and keep it out of the rough, it is going to be a course that suits my game. I like the greens and the greens surrounding areas. I am very pleased with it. It is not what I expected at all. It is in pretty good shape.

Q. What brought you here?

DAVIS LOVE III: I haven't played here in a few years and I have played Doral a lot more than I have played the Honda so I feel like this is a better place for me to kick off the start of my year, start of my Florida swing and I am trying to do the 1 and 4, you know, rule to help fund our one of our retirement plans. This is one that I have miss for a few years so I need to pick this one up and a couple of others like Greensboro, so I am going to adjust my schedule a little bit and try to hit some of the places that I haven't played in a long time.

Q. How does that work?

DAVIS LOVE III: There is a second tier retirement plan, bonuses that you see in segments - noticed that like through -- when does the first one end? End on the West Coast?


DAVIS LOVE III: Takes the Tour into segments - is you win prize money or you win money and you vest that money by increasing or doing special things with your schedule like playing 100 events over four years or playing each tournament once every four years, or it is an incentive for guys to play more, basically what it is. Play more, play more of a variety in your schedule.

Q. It works for you, it brought you here. Do you think, in general, it is the sentiment not to get players to spread their schedule out?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it is. Obvious I think there is a few guys on our Tour, the money they make playing actual tournaments is a small percentage of what they make, so their retirement plan is probably -- there may be two or three guys that a retirement plan doesn't really figure into their daily thinking. I am not one of them. I am very focused on our retirement plans and they are very, very good. Unless you are making hundreds of millions of dollars, our retirement plan is the best in sports. There is a lot of guys that are focused on it. When you look at -- there is a guy like whoever Jim Furyk or guys like that that play a lot, it didn't affect them. It's guys that don't play quite enough that it is going affect. I think going forward, yes, it is going make a difference. The plan is funded a lot by the tournaments rather than the Tour so if it doesn't work they are not going to keep funding it, but it is working for me. I am going to play here, Greensboro and a couple of others that I don't normally play every year.

Q. Getting into the semifinals in the Match Play, do you look at that tournament as a positive or were you discouraged by the way things finished for you there?

DAVIS LOVE III: I was discouraged by the way things finished, but I played real well all week. You always got to look at it as what did I shoot and I played pretty good. I know those last two matches my scores would have been better had it been stroke-play and started to trying catchup and start making bogeys, or, you know, stop making birdies because you are trying to do something heroic to catch up. I was pretty happy with the way I played. I was way under par the first four matches. I think I made one bogey first four matches or something like that. So I was playing very well. Hopefully can continue that on this side of the country.

Q. What is the situation with Cubby and Mark, is Cubby your permanent caddie and what is Mark doing?

DAVIS LOVE III: My brother, Mark, he is going to caddie probably seven tournaments this year and he is cherry picking so Cubby is taking the rest. He will probably work for guys like Calc and guys that he has worked for in the past off and on in some of the bigger tournaments.

Q. There has been a lot of talk about who has come and who hasn't come to these first two Florida swing events. Given what the Tour has done with the West Coast, with Match Play and these two spots on the schedule, because of that is it always going to be tough to attract a top field?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think specifically last week when -- Doral was a course that everybody looked forward to and was a purse that was bigger than everything else, basically, in the whole first three months of the schedule. Everybody -- that was the one you just -- Doral was automatic. Ever since I came out on Tour it is like, it was the hardest one to get into until Jacksonville. Guys were sweating it out whether they got into Doral or Jacksonville. Now, the course had a few tough years and the purse has gone back to just a regular purse. Same thing kind of happened with Vegas there for a while. Vegas was one that nobody missed. They were the biggest purse on Tour for a long time outside of the majors, and now when it falls back to -- average guys go, wait a minute, this is a Pro-Am event, it is a long week and maybe I don't want to play. New Orleans this year had a better field probably than here and Doral because they jacked their purse up 600 grand. So I think it is going to go in cycles. All we heard was complaints about the West Coast. Nobody plays the West Coast, nobody plays the West Coast, and we do a couple of things to get them going and then they see, hey, wait a minute, this is working, tournaments like Pebble Beach what did they, raise the purse 900,000?


DAVIS LOVE III: They went to 4 million this year. That gets peoples' attention. I haven't heard so much talk about New Orleans as I have heard in the last couple of months. Every time you turn around they raise their purse 200 one week and 400 next week, it gets peoples' attention. It is getting to be a competitive market because there is not that many guys that you really want. Let's be honest, 10 guys that make or break a field and if those 10 guys are going to play an average of 18 tournaments each or 20 tournaments each, there is to other tournaments they are not going to play in. So that is tough. Very, very tough. There is a lot of complaints from players that we have too many tournaments. So is there an answer? Yeah, now we go and do some kind of a Florida swing bonus like we put in in California and we help the Ryders and the Hondas and those people maximize their exposure and their sales capabilities and get their purses up and it will shift back over here.

Q. Would that be hard to do for the Honda than Doral?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think they are kind of a tie right now, looks like, the interest is about the same in both of them, the Blue Monster kind of draws -- has been, you know, kind of putting in the back of guy's mind. Until they get, you know, a lot of good reports from the tournament this year and guys -- they will gradually come back to that golf course probably. But I think with the strong West Coast and THE PLAYERS Championship, not only these two, but Bay Hill, they have all got to work a little harder, looks like.

Q. When did you start preparing for The Masters and would you say that is an ultimate a goal as you have to win that tournament considering your long-term --

DAVIS LOVE III: Last April is when I started, by the 15th, it is a year-round thing. I honestly go in there and you finish 50th or second, like I did last year, you are thinking about the next time. Same thing with the British Open, talking about the British Open for two, three holes out there with the Amateurs today. You are looking forward to the big ones. Right now in the forefront in your mind is THE PLAYERS Championship and right behind it is The Masters. The way to get ready is to play in tournaments like this and get in the hunt and see how your game is and see what you need to work on. But yeah, I started working on my swing this winter trying to make some changes and hopefully would be ready by the Florida swing and I feel like they are ready. Now I am going to try to get some good competition in before Jacksonville and Augusta.

Q. How long did that second place finish sit with you?

DAVIS LOVE III: Maybe you should say "Will." It is still -- that one and the one with Ben and Steve Jones's, U.S. Open, all of them, any of them you finish second or third in you feel like you had a great chance, they are going to stay with you. Not because of the last three or four holes, but because, hey, if you are that close, there were some places you could have saved strokes during the week and you could have very easily won. But it also gives you confidence to say, hey, look, I played good there a couple of times, I know I can do it. I have been in the Top-10 a bunch there the last few years, so I am hoping if I am patient one of these years it will be my time to come down the stretch and make the putt and come out on top.

Q. Is that fair to categorize it as your ultimate goal? You certainly have sort of hometown favoritism there amongst crowd, whatnot?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I would think I would get the most maybe recognition out of The Masters because of where I have grown up and how well known I am in Georgia or the southeast, but that and the British Open seem to be right there in the front of my mind. Obviously any major, I'd love to win another PGA - I didn't realize what that was going to mean to me as a club pro's son - and obviously the U.S. Open would be incredible, but top of my list, if you had to rank them, it would be British and the Masters right up there at the top.

Q. Does it seem to you that there have been a lot more examples of guys coming from five, six, seven shots behind not only on the weekend, but on Sunday, even on the back nine, to win tournaments? Seemed to be a lot of that --

DAVIS LOVE III: There used to be, we thought, if you were five or six behind after Friday you still had a chance. Now if you are five or six with nine to go, you still got a chance. Guys are getting more aggressive and when you see it done a few times, I guess you start thinking that you can do it. I have always played that way. You try not to count yourself out of it until it is all over, but, yeah, just seems like it is happening more and more. You know Franklin was thinking, hey, I got to keep it going, you never know what is going to happen. Then all of a sudden it starts slipping away you go, oh, no, this is Pebble Beach all over again. It is right there in your mind that it could happen. But I think it is just a sign of how good the players are out here that, you know, they can step up to another level sometimes, like Jim did for nine holes and just play some incredible golf.

Q. Last year here a player made the turn five shots ahead of Vijay. You had Tiger and Matthew go at Pebble. Then last week with Franklin and Jim Furyk, all three cases somebody who hadn't won yet and world class player, you think that these guys are getting a little intimidated sometimes?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think they do. I think there are certain names -- even for the top players there is certain names that you worry about, certain names that you probably won't. If Tiger is 6 or 7 ahead of you with nine holes to go, you are not thinking, you know, what he is probably going to screw up? If there is a guy that hasn't won before, you might think a little more positively. Hey, you know, what if I make a couple of birdies, this guy will start thinking about it. You definitely got to pay your dues and earn the respect. I think there is some guys that are intimidating or that you have confidence in, some guys you don't have confidence in. I know it is bad. I have always looked up at the leaderboard and say, okay, that is the guy I have got worry about and the rest I don't have to worry about it. I know that there has been times in my career when people have looked up there and go oh, Davis is leading, we don't have to worry about him, he won't make a putt and there have been times when I have been leading they say, well, if he gets ahead, there is no way we are going to catch him. I think that is just natural. They saw Nicklaus's or Palmers go up on the board, people started giving up. But now a guy like Jim Furyk, he didn't make a lot of putts, he never gives up, no matter what.

Q. Biggest comeback to win a tournament?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think Greensboro I was way back, shot like 62 on the last day and won. I was maybe 6 behind and won by 4 or something.

Q. Not winning a while, is that gnawing at you?

DAVIS LOVE III: Not gnawing, it is just, you know, makes you work a little harder; makes you a little frustrated. But I have played some good golf. I have had a lot of seconds and a lot of, you know, get whipped by Tiger Woods on Saturdays, and come very close. So I am not disappointed with the way I am playing, I am just disappointed that I haven't put it all together one week yet. I know if I am patient I will get there.

Q. What would you try to do with the swing change?

DAVIS LOVE III: Just try to get a little bit more on line at the top. Get a little bit of that flash speed out that I have gradually been working out over my whole career and get a little bit more in control, a little bit more power and I think I lost that a little bit with some of the back problems I have had. I have really just tried to work on my extension and being on line at the top.

Q. The wind has been known to blow here. How does that affect swing changes or adjust for wind, can you mess up your swing for later down the line?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think you are a little careful how you practice down here when the winds gets going. You are out there a lot of times hitting a lot of trick shots, it is not real full swing -- normal full swings and you can get in the habit of that. That is why it is good like today to get out and play early in the morning when the wind is not blowing and I think you probably see more guys this time of year go out and practice before the Pro-Am or early in the morning, late afternoon when it is not blowing. Like today, I am not going to go out there and hit in all this wind, you know, you don't want to train yourself for the wind, I guess is the best answer. You just try to keep doing your normal thing; keep your pace slow and --

Q. Can it be detrimental to play in a week where there is a lot of wind with like a major coming up?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think if this week was the week before The Masters I would say, yeah, that would be tough. You play the British Open, you come back and everybody is leaning over on their left side and that can happen here as well. But we get used to it. You got Bay Hill and Jacksonville where you know you can get some pretty -- generally some pretty calm weather.

Q. Are you exercising more?

DAVIS LOVE III: A little more just to protect my back and stay loose and not as much as the other guys, but not as much as I should. Getting better and better.

Q. Talk about breaking through at the PGA Championship, what skill means to you, if you hadn't won, would you be a frustrated player by now?

DAVIS LOVE III: That is kind of the second time frustrated -- I have always been -- no matter wins or losses, I have always been pretty comfortable with that - working hard and putting the effort in and I have got a lot of other outside interests, my family and things that kind of keep me kind of centered on what is important. But the PGA was one of the greatest things I have done in golf besides playing on the Ryder Cup team and stuff like that. But does it finish my career? No. It is not the only thing, but it was very, very important, in my confidence and how I have played since and hopefully how I will play in the future. But it is nice to be in that club. It is a hard club to get in. So that is kind of the nicest thing is, hey, I have gotten there. I know what it feels like and I know I want to get some more.

Q. Where does the 17th hole at TPC rank in terms of difficulty and intimidation?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it is right up there. Probably the hardest hole in golf. Might not be the fairest hole in golf but probably the hardest hole. On a calm day it is not that bad, but when the wind is going or Sunday afternoon, it is very, very nerve-wracking. It is more a mental test, I think, than a golf test. You obviously have to hit a good shot, but it is not that hard a shot. It becomes more of a mental test.

Q. Even though you have played it time and time again, it still has that same affect?

DAVIS LOVE III: Lake is still there every time we go there. It is still a little green, you know, there is times when it's gotten so hard that there is no place to hit it and you have heard all the crying, but that hole has changed a lot of guys' tournaments and changed some careers. That shot I hit in there Sunday in 1992, I mean, that just -- I still -- that is one of greatest golf shots I have ever hit in my life. I will remember that forever as kind of one or two three breakthrough times when, hey, I hit a shot when I had to hit it and on one of the hardest hole to the hardest pin and under the hardest circumstances I had ever been under. And I have also gone in there and hit a pretty good shot and had it land on top and bounce in the lake, cost me the tournament. Eventually if you play that course long enough, it is going to do something good for you and it is going to kill you a couple of times. That is why probably it is not fair, but it is exciting.

Q. Would you want to see any changes in how they are setting that up lately?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'd like them to water 17 a little bit, to throw in that subject. It is getting to the point where there is a lot of -- it is getting like Augusta where there is a lot of tricky things going on. Just hope for rain the week of Bay Hill and Jacksonville and then it will be okay. If it's dry for two weeks before, it gets pretty ugly. It was pretty brutal last year. It was very, very hard. But the guy that played the best -- guy was playing the best in the world won, so it definitely separates the men from the boys when it is that hard.

Q. How long was your putt in 1992 on 17?

DAVIS LOVE III: Six or eight feet.

Q. As Player Director what are the one, two or three issues that are most important to you right now?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think we talked about getting guys to play tournaments. I think supporting what we have built. You work so hard increase playing opportunities, the main thing we are trying to do; then you have got to go back to all the sponsors say, wait a minute, we are going to get these guys to play in all these tournaments you have created. I think that is the biggest thing right now. Keeping our image going. We have got a great image. So many problems in other sports. Our problems are so minor. I think we keep this image going that we have got and I think obviously staying ahead in the marketing race of all sports is a big thing for us; that we continue to position ourselves more and more which we have done over the last five years, more and more as top athletes rather than just another country club sport that is on TV. I think we have proven that, hey, there is a lot of guys out here that are great athletes - David Duval and Tiger Woods and on down the list, that maybe they could probably play other sports. But they are exciting to watch and fun to watch and it is top flight professional athletics just like the NBA or NFL and keep building that image and that brand, I think is very important.

Q. Must be some headaches with the job. Why did you do it?

DAVIS LOVE III: That is a great question. Somebody answer that for me. I went into it kind of not knowing what it was all about and the job I think I have done it since-- seventh straight year, I guess, of doing it. Two terms in a row. Job has really changed. It has gone from sit back and kind of watch to be really active, being really actively involved and a lot of day-to-day decisions and it used to be took you five or six days a year to be a player director; now it takes you probably 30 days a year to be a player director. You are giving something back to your fellow players and to the game and supporting it and helping grow your Tour. There has been a lot of guys on the policy board starting with Larry Mize and Hal Sutton and Jeff Sluman guys I have learned a lot from. It has helped me in business incredibly so I have gotten more out of it than they have certainly. Supporting your organization and our Tour really is run by the players. If we don't have active passionate player director and player advisory council members we are not going to get anything done. That is why I do it, guys like Jeff Sluman come to me and say, hey, look this is an important job; we want you to do it. Jay Haas, he has done it -- I have -- he and I have been together for seven years. Some of the players don't believe it, but we were on our Tour and we don't write the checks everyday and do the -- all the work, but we make the decisions that affect us and that is a big job. 16 guys on the player advisory council and 47 player directors that spend a lot of time doing it. I will be glad when this year is over.

Q. What is the hardest part of the job?

DAVIS LOVE III: Hardest part is keeping up. You can lose track of a lot of things if you don't pay attention. If you don't put the time in. There is a lot of players out there with a lot of ideas and it is hard to make everybody understand that, hey, we take 100 ideas in, ten of them are going to make the grade. Some of them are fanciful and some of them are silly and some of them just affect one or two guys and then there is ten good ones out of every hundred that become part of what we do. The hard thing is balancing, you know, these guys are my friends out here they come to me and say, I want to be Commissioner, okay, we will put your name in. Then the next guy has a good idea and he wants to do something that will help the players. But, you know, mostly guys out here are happy. 80% of them are happy. 10% want to complain and 10% have ideas to make it better. We spend more time with the 10% complainers than we do anything.

Q. You had mentioned the club professional background in your family before. What is the best golf tip, mechanically speaking, that your father ever gave you? Something maybe you even use --

DAVIS LOVE III: I would say swing pace is probably the biggest thing. That is the thing I throw out to most amateurs, swing under control, told me hit it as hard as you want as long as you keep your feet on the ground when I was real little. That kind of applies all way through. If you can swing in balance, you can learn to swing good. If you swing too hard, you will never learn to swing correctly.

Q. Just there is a lot of comments about trickery (inaudible) 17 at Sawgrass. Are there any complaints about trickery at Augusta? Is it tradition that makes it different?

DAVIS LOVE III: You traditionally don't say that at Augusta. (laughs). They use different words. To keep guys from shooting low scores it doesn't matter if it is at Carnoustie, Doral, or Augusta, wind didn't below at Doral and it made the course a little bit easier and 23-under par -- I mean, if you don't do it guys -- the thing is like Doral when I came on Tour Doral's greens were terrible; couldn't make a putt. And the whole Honda, whatever tournaments, different names, the greens were bumpy and you couldn't make putts. Now you go out there, if you miss a putt today, I played at 6:40, if I missed a putt, it was my fault. Greens were perfect. There is no getting around. Guys are -- you give them a golf course with good greens and smooth fairways they are going to hit a lot of fairways; make a lot of putts. At Augusta the course is -- they have maximized their length almost as much as they can and you know, if the greens are fairly soft, if they get a little bit of rain, guys are going to shoot it up and they have got to do everything they can to keep from it. 15th green gets higher and 13 gets longer. They do whatever they can to keep scores low. They are no different than anybody else, you know, this year we will go to St. Andrews, and will be two or three new tees that weren't there five years ago. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it didn't get to the point where luck is the main factor and I think at Carnoustie it was so hard that luck became a big factor and it became silly. We have seen wherever it is, THE PLAYERS Championship, Phoenix Open last year, places get so hard that, you know, an inch here or there, the ball is in the lake and that becomes luck and then that is not right. So we either got to get used to a lot of red numbers or make golf courses obsolete which we couldn't want to do. Obviously you don't want to leave Augusta National so you have got to get used to 15-under you are going to win every year.

Q. Isn't the mental part of the game a part of it for players than just, you got to deal with it or ...

DAVIS LOVE III: It is, but just for one quick example when you get to the 15th hole you can't hit the green with your second shot, then you can't hit the green with your third shot, then it is hard to figure out what to do. You play into the bunker in two or three, try to get up-and-down. There is times when you say, okay, what is the best way to play this hole. You think there is not. There is nothing I can do. 17 at Valderama, how is Tiger supposed to play that hole? He hit the shot he had to hit, still went in the lake. That was a fabulous golf shot. I hit one landed on the top of that thing went in the back bunker and the best thing I can do is hit it in the lake and go on the other side, take a drop. It gets to point where some holes are just so in -- trickery may be not -- they are just so hard you can't play them. That is not fair. We will see that, you know, 17 at TPC if it's dry next couple of weeks and ball won't stop, guys will be screaming. But you ought to be able to hit 8-iron in the middle of the green and have it stay on it. That is kind of our deal. We don't have to be able to hit 15 at Augusta with a 3-iron but we ought to be able land sand wedge on the green not have it go back in the lake or over the green all the time. That is where it is getting really, really a fine line between fair and unfair.

Q. Going the other way, a lot of comment last week Doral may be playing too easy, especially the first three days looked like the record was going to get obliterated from a pro's standpoint; is it such a point as too easy a golf course?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think there is. I think we try real hard on Tour not to go to a course that might be, you know, one that we would beat up. Doral with no wind, perfect greens, you know, the par 5s are reachable; it is going to get beat up. Now. Surprising how much it did, but again, last few times I played there the greens have just been so incredibly good, then you look back to Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines where the greens were bumpy and scores weren't quite as low. I think conditioning makes a big difference, but there is a point where it is too easy, yes, and there is a point where it is too hard. I think we are going to have to get used to the fact that if it's hard, it is going to be 8- or 10-under. If it's going to be easy, it is going to be 25-, 30-under. Somewhere in between is probably about right. Unless the wind blows.

NELSON LUIS: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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