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May 28, 1998

Davis Love III


WES SEELEY: 33, 33, 66, 6-under par for Davis Love who shares the lead on a crowded leaderboard.

DAVIS LOVE III: Among a list of other players.

WES SEELEY: So the back is okay?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's okay, I think is the word. It's a little -- it feels a little funny, but as far as hitting golf balls, it felt good. I had a couple twinges out there, and one actually sitting up there in the TV booth, it felt funny, but I'm very happy with the progress I've made from the last time I played 18 holes, which is in Japan. You know, I was dragging -- my leg was dragging and I didn't feel very good. Today it felt pretty good. I had a couple shots that I was a little tentative on trying to hit really hard, you know, a hard 5-iron at 4 and a hard driver at 18, trying to cut it around a corner. Other than that, the swings felt really good as long as I didn't try to kill them, you know, hit it too hard. But I'm very, very happy with not only my score, but I'm very happy with the way -- that's my first 18 holes since my last round in Japan, which was the Sunday of Houston, whenever that was, a long time ago.

WES SEELEY: First Sunday of the month. Take us through the six birdies.

DAVIS LOVE III: Okay. Well, I should mention 4. I hit it left of the bunker at 4, hit a good pitch up there about 6 inches and tapped in. After it hit in the first three greens and had some birdie putts, that was a good save. Then 5, 3-wood off the tee, 4-wood into the back bunker, blasted out about 10 feet and made it. And 7, a driver and a 3-iron to the back of the green and left my first putt about 6 feet short from about 50 feet and made that for birdie. 8, a 7-iron to about 8 feet and made it. And 9, I hit a 3-wood in the left rough, chipped out, about 100 yards from the hole, hit it up there about 6 feet and made that for par. And 10, a driver and a 9-iron to about 6 feet. 11, was a driver and a 3-iron to about 20 feet and 2-putted. And then 15, a driver and a 3-iron to about 10 feet and missed it. Got a birdie there and then a nice save at 18 after driving it left and hacking it out in the bunker.

WES SEELEY: 4-under on par 5s.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yes. Par 5s, obviously the key for the day and for this tournament. I mean, you have to get those when you drive it. My length, you have to get those because there's so many hard holes out there. You get a couple, you can knock it on the green, you have to make birdies. I was on two of them with makeable eagle putts, so, you know, that was -- I made one good up-and-down, and -- well, actually it was on three of them putting for eagles, so that was probably at least what I should have got out of the par 5s. And then hit a lot of other good shots. Hit a lot of good shots right at it. My distance control was pretty good. I hit a few too far into the wind, but overall I hit the ball very well. Like I said, I only hit three shots, four shots that I was really uncomfortable or unhappy with. So I'm very pleased.

WES SEELEY: Questions for Davis?

Q. Apparently you didn't have any back problems today.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, not really swinging as much better -- it was in the last two tournaments I played, the swing was a lot freer. Walking was a little bit more difficult than I expected. I thought I was going to be, you know, I was going to breeze around because I felt so good. But I was -- my hips didn't feel really good walking, but, you know, overall, I'm, you know, I'm 75 percent better than I was. I'm very happy with the way my swing feels. If I can just be sure of it, you know, that I can go ahead on 18 and try to crank it around the corner, when I get to that length, I'll feel like I'm 100 percent. But sometimes I'm just a little tentative trying to go on through it and cut it. Because that was my problem before, I would hurt myself when I would turn through it real fast. So I've been a little tentative the last few days. But heck, I mean, three or four bad ones, I'm very, very happy.

Q. Are you going to hit balls tonight?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I'm not going to hit any. I'm going to take it easy. I've probably only hit 75 the last three days and played 9 holes, so today was a big jump to play 18. I'm trying to pace myself. But I feel like I'm swinging, I feel like I'm swinging so good now. I'm just trying to get my back back healthy and not do too much of anything that's going to mess it up.

Q. You weren't even sure yesterday if it hadn't felt good, you weren't even going to tee it up. Could you have had any idea you would shoot so well?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. I had no idea. And probably that's probably why I played so good is no expectations. Going out there I wasn't trying to do anything other than just play and go through a round and make it through. But, you know, I hit the ball well both 9s I played Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was encouraged with the way I was hitting it. You just never know how you're going to play after being off. I didn't really feel rusty at all, and I'm excited to be playing again I think is the biggest thing. You know, Justin on 13, 14 walking down the fairway, he said, "So, have you like chipped or putted or anything? " And I said, "No. I haven't done one thing in three weeks." He said, "Man, this is unbelievable." But, you know, I did have a lot of confidence. You know, usually when you take some time off because you're not feeling well it's because, you know, you've been hurt and you haven't been playing that good. But when I quit, I was playing very well.

Q. So now you're shooting for three in a row, then?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm shooting for four rounds now. You know, I talked to my back guy and he said, you know, just take it easy, and don't do too much and don't overextend yourself. I mean, he's worried about me getting on an airplane to fly up here, things like that. So making it through four rounds I think is a good goal.

Q. Give us your thoughts on the leaderboard. You have so many people up there so close.

DAVIS LOVE III: It's amazing, the scores. I didn't think they would be quite this low. But it looked like this morning there were a lot of good scores. The greens are perfect; the fairways are perfect. The course played a little shorter than it has in the past. So I'm -- you know, it's not playing easy, but it's not playing that difficult. But it looks like there's a lot of guys that have been due for some good rounds that are up at the top like Payne and Craig and Joey, you know, guys that have been playing better but haven't really, you know, put a good tournament together. I know Joey has been close and Payne has been close. It's a great leaderboard.

Q. If you're not 100 percent or not feeling totally comfortable, what makes you decide to come back out now rather than wait a week or two or whatever?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, because it's Memorial. If this was probably any other tournament, I probably wouldn't. But this is one that, you know, like Colonial or Hilton Head, you know, one of the special events, and plus it's Jack's tournament. You don't want to miss Jack's or Arnold's or Byron's, and I missed Byron's. You know, this is a good week for me. It's a good golf course for me. I just wanted to try it out. And after three weeks, that's a long time to not play. So I figured if I didn't play this week and next week, that would be too much before the Open. And, you know, the guy Tom Boers that I work with on my back, he wants me to play some. He wanted me last week to try to hit some balls, but it didn't feel good enough to yet. Part of what I need to do is not work out and stretch and all that, but I also need to play golf because that's part of my strengthening. If I quit playing, I lose all that exercise that I'm doing.

Q. Was there one incident that precipitated the injury or is it one of the things that cropped up?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. It's been coming on. I've been having hip and foot problems since way back, even before the Ryder Cup in '95. So I've been off and on working with Tom and the guys in the fitness truck. You know, I probably couldn't have made it through New Orleans without the guys in the fitness truck helping me. Then some weeks it was okay, and some bad weeks it was bad. Then Tom told me at The Masters to take a few weeks off and I didn't. So I've just been pushing it too far.

Q. After this week, are you playing before the Open in any tournaments?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm going to play in Westchester.

Q. What is this going to do your traditional stretch in April and March?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm playing so many.

Q. Yes.

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. You know, that was five weeks. Put me out for three, you know, when I played five in a row through the Hilton Head, so, yeah, I need to take it easy. You know, today proves to me that, hey, you can take some time off and you're not going to forget how to play. So I need to -- I need to spread it out. I need to play the same amount. I just need to spread it out a little more. There's some tournaments that I haven't been to that I'm going to have to tell guys like friends of mine at tournament directors, look, I'm just not going to be able to do it every year. Hopefully the schedule will be a little more flexible for me. I know New Orleans moves out of that swing more into May, I think, isn't that right?

WES SEELEY: That's correct.

DAVIS LOVE III: So that will -- hopefully the new schedule will help me a little bit.

Q. Each year, they call on you to play Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, play twice a day and every day. What's going to become of that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't think that's going to change. You know, I want to make Ryder Cup. Actually, you know, that's a pretty good week if you can talk your captain into letting you play once a day, slide through the practice rounds and sneak off and only play 9 like we've been learning to do. The more you play on those teams, the more the captains let you get away with. The last couple years I've cut out some practice rounds so I can play more on the weekends. Those are weeks you go on energy. You know, you can get through those. You know, Ryder Cup has been around for a long time, so the Presidents Cup is just one extra. You know, I'm not going to skip a tournament to play the Presidents Cup, but that's just one more, so it's not that big a deal.

Q. What's the prognosis for your hip and your back?

DAVIS LOVE III: The -- what they tell me is the more I work out and the better job I do with it, the better it's going to get. So it's come a long way in three weeks. I believe that they're right. The stronger I get in my legs and my, you know, my abdominals and all that that supports your back, the better it will get. You just have to keep after it.

WES SEELEY: Will that do it?

End of FastScripts....

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