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May 27, 1998

Davis Love III


WES SEELEY: We have Davis Love III who won his last two tournaments.

DAVIS LOVE III: And if I keep laying out, you can keep saying that.

Q. How is your health and how is your game?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know how my game is. I feel a lot better. Day to day I guess in football terms or baseball terms, I'm on the day-to-day list. But after three weeks of working out and trying to get it better, it feels a lot better and I played 9 yesterday and 9 today. Probably hit 100 balls each of the last three days, so it feels a lot better and no pain yet. I'm trying not to push it too much, but hopefully can get a few rounds in this week, you know, if this was not, you know, Memorial, a big tournament, I probably would be trying to ease into it at home. But I didn't want to miss Memorial, and so hopefully if I hit it the way I did the last two days, I can get through the week, if I putt well, be competitive and get a good start to getting ready for the U.S. Open. It feels a lot better.

Q. What is the problem? Is it tendons or is it spine --

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a spot in a disk. Whether it's herniated, whether it's just a bulge or something on the left side. So when I follow through, it creates some sciatic nerve stuff down my legs. I haven't had any problem with that the last couple weeks, it's gotten better and better. The only thing that makes it hurt is hitting a shot and following through. So as long as I don't do that, I'm fine.

Q. How do you play without following through?

DAVIS LOVE III: Really the only thing is, you know, if you sit in an airplane for a long time or sit in a car and don't get out and walk around, if you sit here for an hour, it will start bothering me. At dinner last night, I got up and walked around just halfway through dinner just to change positions. But, you know, the guy that I've been working with says, "Do whatever you want as long as you don't lift anything heavy and as long as you don't hit golf balls all day. Keep from getting your back in the same position for a long time." It's just that one spot where when I follow through, it kind of pinches down. And the farther I get into the week playing, when I'm playing, the worse it gets, you know, the worse I get the pain down my leg. It's been bothering me for a while, but it finally got to a point where I had to stop and get better. It has; it's gotten better in the last three weeks.

Q. What sort of treatment have you had?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the guys in the fitness truck have been helping me for a long time. And the guy Fred Couples works with, Tom Boers, has been helping me. Finally, you know, he got my back -- however they do it manually, do some work on it, get it loosened up. Then he gave me a bunch of exercises to do: Range of motion, stretching, and strengthening exercises, that I gradually built up to like eight or nine exercises. It takes me maybe 30 or 45 minutes twice a day. Then he's got me on, you know, some cardiovascular stuff, treadmill, he's gotten me on a routine and it feels a lot better. It seems like every step I take and doing more and more exercising, it gets better and better and better. So I guess it's something I'll have to do for a long time.

Q. You don't foresee surgery?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. No. I'm not near as bad as a lot of the other guys out here, and I can handle it as long as I stay in shape.

Q. It's just a wear-and-tear situation. I mean, so many people, I myself, have bad backs and then golf obviously exacerbates the problem.

DAVIS LOVE III: Right. Well, he explained to me that for years and years and years of pushing your body to the limit, he said eventually it just can't take it. He said what you guys do is you're so good that it starts hurting a little bit, but you keep playing and you keep playing good. Like, you know, two of my worst weeks that it's felt, I won. And he said, "Look, you know, you can go play at Atlanta this week, but what are you trying to prove that you're going to play until you fall down? " So he said, "That's your problem. You guys can play through a little bit of pain and you can still play very well and be successful." And he said, "But all this traveling around the world," he said, "Eventually it's going to catch up with you." So I'm going to have to back off of some of the things I do. But sitting on an airplane back and forth all the time just isn't going to be good for it. The stronger I get, you know, the more I can do.

Q. Does the discomfort level get worse during the round or is it a constant thing?

DAVIS LOVE III: If I didn't say at Hilton Head and at The Masters -- I was limping, you know, down the last 18 at The Masters, and then I took two days off Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday I was fine. So it's really a combination of walking and hitting golf balls. I played my Pro Am at Hilton Head, went home, didn't even hit any balls, you know, watched a softball game, came back, played the tournament and played well. Then I didn't play hardly at all the week at Greensboro and didn't play Monday or Tuesday going to Japan, and then played the Pro Am and played well again. But by Sunday, I was, you know, limping noticeably and my hip was hurting and I was hitting shots to the left that I wasn't in the beginning of the week. And then Monday, if I would have been in Atlanta on Monday, I probably couldn't have played Monday, and it just gets worse. I played a five-week stretch, and I couldn't, you know, the next week, I really couldn't play. So I've got to pace myself and get stronger and build back up to where I can play two or three weeks in a row. But part of it is the cardiovascular stuff and part of it is the back where I have the strength and stamina to go four rounds without it getting weaker and weaker.

Q. Could you foresee cutting back on your schedule more for the travel reasons?

DAVIS LOVE III: I probably travel differently, but I don't really want to cutback tournaments played. You know, keep my starts up because that's the way I felt like I've gotten to where I can be a little bit more consistent is playing all year long. And with these new incentive segments and all that, you -- prize money, I don't want to cutback any. But I definitely am going to -- you know, I might say, "Well, you know, this December it might not be smart to go to the World Cup and to the Million Dollar and to the Presidents Cup; maybe I'll just do one." I went to Japan, I've been once in the last six, seven years, so you know, it's not like I'm killing myself on that. I just need to be a little bit more aware of what I'm doing. And, you know, you can break up -- you can break up the traveling, too, if you're going to the West Coast, plan on going out a day early and taking your time. Hopefully I can get strong enough to keep doing what I've been doing.

Q. Have you pulled out of any overseas engagements as of yet? What about traveling to the British Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, no. I'll go there if I have to go to Canada first and then Ireland and then England and then to Scotland. I'll get there. I'm going to play Loch Lomond, so I'll go over in time. We're going to play some golf in Ireland for a day or two. No, I'll definitely -- well, you know, I was definitely going to play Colonial, too. But as long as I keep getting better, I'm going to play. But that's the main thing is getting ready for the Open. If I get up tomorrow morning and it's hurting, I'm not going to play here because I want to get ready for the Open, the U.S. Open and the Open.

Q. Is that of concern to you that this has happened so close to the U.S. Open?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it is a concern to me that I've won twice in a row and then I couldn't play. But, you know, it had been building up and I knew I had a problem brewing. And rather than starting, you know, working out and I felt like that might make it worse during a tournament, but, yeah, you don't ever want to be out. You don't want to be injured. I haven't really had anything that was -- I didn't say, "Well, you'll be better next week." I've now got something that the rest of my career I'll probably have to keep an eye on. And, you know, like Kite, he had a problem and he fixed it. Now you don't talk about it any more. But Tom Kite still has a back problem waiting to happen if he doesn't keep working out. I don't think anybody there gets a back problem and it just goes away. You work on it and try to maintain it.

Q. Presuming your back cooperates and everything, what is your plan of preparing for the Open? What are you going to play?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm going to play Westchester and then go on out. I had planned on not playing Kemper because it would be Memorial, Kemper, Westchester and then San Francisco. It would be four in a row. I didn't want to do that. I'm going to stick with that. I had a month in September that I had completely blocked off. Since I missed a couple tournaments, I'll play a couple in September. Rather than trying to jam something in in the summertime.

Q. How do you work that? You play the week before, then how do you gear yourself? They were talking about it with some of the other people about how to get yourself where you want to be ready on Thursday morning of Open week, or like Nicklaus says, he doesn't even want to be at his best that day. He wants it a little bit later, what's your --

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I wish I could be that precise. I would have picked Thursday of The Masters instead of Thursday at Hilton Head. What I want to do is play Westchester because they have deep rough, a lot of tricky tee shots. It's a good golf course, traditional-style golf course. And the greens should be, you know, if you can say they're going to be similar to U.S. Open, that's a U.S. Open style course. Plus, you play the week before and you're into it and nervous. By the time you use Monday as half a day of travel and get there and get organized, you have Tuesday and Wednesday, and then it's going to start. I went to Augusta on Monday, so I blew Monday. Then I had Tuesday and all of a sudden the tournament is going to start. I kind of like that not being overanxious.

Q. Over prepared?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. Like Justin Leonard said last night and said, you know, "I'll get to the British Open on Sunday and I'll play 100 holes before it starts." It worked for him last year, so he's going to do the same thing. You don't want to do too much. Well, win the PGA after missing the cut at Buick and not doing anything Saturday and Sunday except watch my little girl ride a horse. I never know what's going to work. This U.S. Open, I'm going to play Westchester and try to get ready, especially in the light I haven't had much competition in the last -- if I play this week and not next week, that will be five weeks that I've only had one event, so I'll need Westchester to get ready.

Q. Would you like to talk about the Presidents Cup for a minute? You said you might not play if circumstances were such --

DAVIS LOVE III: No. I said I wouldn't play all three. I wouldn't go to, you know, the World Cup and the Million Dollar and the Presidents Cup. I would probably just maybe play one in November and one in December, which I'll play the Presidents Cup obviously over anything else. But I'll probably, you know, not do the whirlwind challenge season that I've been doing in the past, which I've played Kapalua and World Cup and the Million Dollar mixed team or, you know, now the Presidents Cup. I won't do as much in November and December as I have in the past.

Q. As far as the Presidents Cup is concerned, how are the American pros thinking about it these days? We're coming up on our third one. We've sort of been through a couple cycles. The Americans have to get up for these kinds of matches every year. The Europeans only once every two, the international team only once every two. Will that affect the attitude of the Americans going in in any way and what do you think about that generally?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think, you know, obviously we have to do -- we're doing it every year, but it is only one week we play all year long, and there's a lot of weeks to take off and there's a lot of weeks that you use to get ready. But, you know, Presidents Cup the last -- I've been on both teams. I mean, it's been one of the highlights of the years, and it's -- you know, you look so much forward to the Ryder Cup, it's nice to be able to do it every year, rather than every other year. Two years is a long time to wait for a Ryder Cup, so it's nice to have the Presidents Cup in there. And Freddie and I every year always look forward to the World Cup, and we won it. I've never been to Australia. I think most of the guys are very excited about it. If there's one thing they wish, it was that it wasn't so close to Christmas so we didn't have to buy the presents a month early; we could shop that week. It's going to be a lot of fun. Jack is excited. The people in Australia are excited. I don't -- Freddie is worried about how he's going to get his house decorated, is the only problem we've got.

Q. He said he didn't like getting back on the 14th and having that little period of time?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, once every how many years, once every eight years would it be in December or what's their formula?

WES SEELEY: Well, it would be every other year, it would be somewhere else.

Q. With that late in the year?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know if it would always be in December.

WES SEELEY: I don't think so.

DAVIS LOVE III: Anyway, yeah, if Jack Nicklaus is the captain and he wants to have it Christmas week, you know, I'm sure guys will show up. I think it's a great tournament and, you know, everybody I've talked to is very excited about it. At the Players Championship, everybody was there and was excited about it and asked a lot of questions about what we had to do to get ready.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the different feel between the two events.

DAVIS LOVE III: I think the Presidents Cup is still in its infancy compared to the Ryder Cup, and it's more competitive in the beginning than obviously the Ryder Cup was. Obviously it's starting off very exciting. I don't think anybody is going to pretend that it's going to take over or be the Ryder Cup, but it's going to be the next best thing. And I know we took it kind of as a -- as a neat new thing, and we got there and all of a sudden we started playing and everybody got pretty intense, and it was a great competition. So the next time around, we knew they would want to beat us, and it was even more intense. It's going to get better and better. I know in Australia it's going to be very competitive. They're going to want to win very badly, especially since half their team is probably going to be from Australia. I think everybody takes it very seriously. They can't really say because they haven't played a Ryder Cup, but for us, it's the next best thing.

Q. The course conditions being so dry, a lot of guys saying they're going to run that first shot real long. How much pressure does that put on you, with the greens being so dry this year, and also the second shot, hitting it close?

DAVIS LOVE III: It hasn't rained yet, but until it does, the course will play quick. I think it's going to be harder to hit it in the fairways, is the biggest difference because the ball is going to run off the sides. Even though it will play shorter, I think guys will have to be more accurate off the tee. And the greens are very good. They're not overly hard yet, but if it doesn't rain, they'll get very hard, but I think the biggest difference from last year is that, you know, it's going to be playing a little shorter and harder to hit the fairways, and the bunkers are going to be a little more difficult. The balls will bury in the bunkers and tougher bunker shots. But this course is always in good shape. We played it dry a couple times. If you've been out here a while, you've played it dry and know that -- I think it actually plays harder the dryer it is. Even though it's shorter, I think it plays more difficult. But it's in great shape, and it will be a good tournament, wet or dry.

WES SEELEY: Will that do it? All right.

End of FastScripts....

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