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June 11, 1997
LES UNGER: Well, Davis, thank you for joining us. The last
time we had you in here, you were, I guess, feeling good, but
also low at the same time, after you finished second, and you
certainly would have liked to be a position higher. Would it
be fair to characterize this year so far as somewhat of a slow
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's been, I'd say, inconsistent. I've
had quite a few Top-10 finishes. I'm not sure how many, but I've
made the cut every week, and finished in the Top-10 a few times,
but had an inconsistent year. And, you know, a little disappointing.
Got rained out, you know, a couple times, and withdrew a couple
times because of illness. So, it's been kind of an unfinished
year. I felt I could have caught back up at the Mercedes Championships
and felt I could have caught back up at Memorial. Just like everybody
else that was playing decent, felt like one more day would have
been their day. And, I've been close. Seems like I've gotten
off to a bad start on Thursdays and have either had to work to
come back and make the cut or I've gotten so far behind the leaders
that a good weekend has put me into the Top-10 rather than into
contention. So, I need to get off to a little bit better start
on Thursdays and for the first 9 and be a little bit more focused
out of the box, which is pretty easy to do at a U.S. Open. But,
sometimes on the regular events, there's a morning, it seems like
all of a sudden, I realize I'm even par or 1-over through 15.
And, now I'm struggling just to make the cut. And, fortunately,
every time I've needed to kick it into gear, I have. And, I think
I just need to be a little bit more focused right from the beginning.
LES UNGER: Let's focus on Congressional. How much chance
have you had to play it and how would you say it fits your game?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you couldn't draw one, I think, any better
for a long hitter. The fairways are fairly generous for a U.S.
Open, but the width of the fairways continues on. It doesn't
pinch you in on every hole. There's a few holes it does, but
there's so many holes like 10 and 13 and 14 and 16 and 17, there
are so many holes that the width just continues from 240 to 300,
and a lot of my experience on a lot of the U.S. Open courses,
there's either a big dogleg or the fairway pinches in out about
160, 170 and that takes the driver out of a lot of guys' hands.
This one, go ahead and hit it, use your length to an advantage.
There's some spots where we won't hit drivers. There's no reason
if you're hitting the ball good, you can't hit driver on just
about every hole, and if you're driving it straight, it could
be a huge advantage. It sets up well for me. Obviously, if you
don't drive it straight, it doesn't matter how far you're hitting
it. But, I think if I can keep driving it like I've been driving
it this year, the course will set up well for me.
Q. Can you talk about the 18th hole and your feelings?
That is a par 3. And, what's going to be the hardest part of
that hole? Will you guys be affected by the water or will it
be other things that bother you more on that hole?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think pin position is going to determine
whether the water is really that much into play and what you need
to make on the hole. I mean, I think 90 percent of the time, if
a guy needs a birdie to make the cut on Friday or if he needs
a birdie to win, the only time, really, you would probably take
a chance and shoot at that front left or very front right pin.
To me, it's an easy hole, and you can say this sitting here,
but come Sunday, the last hole of the tournament, it's a pretty
easy hole to make a par on considering when you look at the rest
of the holes on the back 9. I keep reading in the paper that
there's a controversy. I don't know whether it's a controversy.
I think it's different, and I don't think any of the players are
really complaining that we're ending on a par 3. I think it's
different and it's unusual, just like at Lytham, it's unusual
to start on a par 3. But I think -- I think the guys are finding
that it's a pretty easy hole compared to some of the other ones
because you get to tee the ball up and hit a 5-iron from a perfect
lie to a fairly big green. And, it doesn't make you shake like
TPC at 17, which is I get the feeling from reading the articles
and listening to it on TV, that it's this, you know, incredibly
scary hole. But, you know, if you hit the ball 185, you know,
fairly straight, you're in the green. And, it's a big green.
It's one of the biggest par 3 greens on the course, so I think
it's -- I think it's a great hole and it's a neat finish. But,
I don't think it's as hard as people are getting the perception
of, and I'd much rather play that hole, have to make a par than
16 or 17, because those holes are extremely difficult.
Q. Davis, so often at these U.S. Open Championships the
question comes up: Is the course unfair? Sounds like you don't
think it's unfair. What's your feeling about it?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's as fair probably as any Open I've
played. You know, Tim Moraghan from the agronomy staff, he asked
me: "What do you think of the course?" I said: "It's
in perfect condition." If you ask me to find one thing I
didn't like, I'd have a tough time finding it. You could say,
well, maybe the sand is too deep, you know, but there's nothing
really you could say. To say they should have done this or they
should have done that, I mean, they have left no stone unturned.
And, I mean, we were out on the 10th hole at 7:15, and I'm not
exaggerating, there were 40 people working on the 10th hole and
they were mowing the fairways with single-reel mowers. And, rolling
the greens and blowing the fringes, and they had mats to turn
the mowers on the green so they don't mess up the fringe. It's
incredible the amount of bunker raking. The bunker-raking crew
from Caves Valley gets started at 5 in the morning. They're doing
every little thing they can to make it perfect. It's one of the
best conditioned golf courses that I've ever seen, and they're
doing a great job keeping the greens healthy. I know it's going
to get hotter and hotter. But, the greens are absolutely perfect.
And, it's a treat to play it.
Q. Davis, you mentioned about the width of the fairways
really sort of favoring long hitters, and yet Tiger Woods says
he just is going to use his driver on three holes. Is he making
a mistake or are you making a mistake?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, he's a lot longer than anybody else.
He has to play different and John Daly has to play different than
everybody else. They hit it so much farther. So, his 3-wood
goes as far as my driver. And, my driver goes farther than anybody
else's driver. So he is doing -- the last thing you want to do
is tell the guy that's playing the best how to play.
Q. Talk a little bit about the finish last year and what
you took away from that and getting over that.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, assuming I did get over it, the finish
was, you know, the most exciting finish I've ever been involved
in. You know, I made a great par-putt at 10 and a great birdie-putt
at 11 and, you know, birdied the par 5, I guess, 12, birdied 15,
so, you know, I was on cloud 9, got a par at 16, which was like
a birdie on Sunday. And, you know, had an incredible back 9 to
get myself in position to win the Open. And, then a bad shot
and a bad 3-putt, you know, left, you know, a little void in your
confidence and your week. And I think it took me awhile to get
to playing good again. It was really the Presidents Cup before
it wore off and the excitement came back. I was going through
the motions, but I just wasn't playing with any confidence. My
swing was still good. My putting stroke was still good. I just
wasn't sharp. But now, you know, I feel like I'm playing as good
or close to as good, but with a different feeling. I'm feeling
confident. I'll never get over the loss of a chance -- you know,
I said several times I could win ten Opens, I'm still going to
say that I lost a chance to win my 11th. But, I feel a lot of
confidence in my game now. And, as I said, I've been playing
some really good golf in stretches. It's just a matter of being
focused. And, I think, you know, at Augusta, I played really
my most consistent tournament of the year. And, obviously, nobody
was going to beat Tiger. But, I had a pretty good week and was
at least within sight of second place, and had another Top-10
in the major, so I'm looking forward to -- you know, I was ready
yesterday to start playing. So, I'm just biding my time and looking
forward to being focused on playing 72 holes straight this week
like I did last year.
Q. Davis, two questions: The first one is how often do
you think of that first putt or the second putt at 18 last year?
And, second of all, you've said in the past that you'd get too
excited early in the week at majors which you may be coming to
early. You know, did you not guard against that this year or
is that just the way you feel right now?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think I've gotten over the fact that
I overreact the weeks before. I think I've learned to not panic
early because now I've played enough of them and I've had a couple
good finishes where I feel like I don't have to change my game.
You know, the game that I took to Kemper last week and felt like
I could win is the same game that could win here. So, I don't
have to do anything extremely different. So, I'm more relaxed
in that regard. You know, I think about that finish a lot, and
like I said, I always will. If I win the Open Sunday, you know,
the first thing I'm going to think about Monday morning is, God,
it could have been two in a row so easy. So it's never going
to go away, but it makes you more determined and makes you work
harder. But, it also, at the same time, gives you a little bit
of a peace of mind, say, hey, you know, I bogeyed the first hole
at the tournament and bogeyed the last two and still finished
second, one stroke out. So, you know, everybody does that. Tom
Lehman has done that for a year. I'm sure John Morse has done
it for a year and everybody else that finished up there close,
I don't think anybody is looking back and saying, well, if I would
have just saved a stroke here or there, I could have won The Masters
this year. But, a lot of guys do that pretty much every tournament,
every major say, gosh, I was just a couple, three putts away,
or if I hadn't hit that ball in the water, I would have won, you
know. So, you do that all the time, and we do it for every event.
But, the majors hang with you a little longer. But at the same
time, you take that as a positive. Hey, I played better than
anybody else for 69 holes of the U.S. Open, so all it takes is
a couple more.
Q. Davis, does Tiger have more competitive fire than the
other real good players?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's hard to say what's inside other players.
I don't know.
Q. Davis, just along the same lines of the majors, did '95,
your performance at Shinnecock set the table for you to grow and
did your confidence fashion itself --
DAVIS LOVE III: I think Shinnecock proved to me for the first
time I could win just about any tournament because there I putted
extremely well from 4 feet and out, probably the best I've ever
putted in a big tournament, but I missed a bunch of 2- or 3-footers.
If I would have made half of my 2- and 3-footers there, I would
have won very easily, and that one I took away and said, look,
if I can just play my game and keep hanging in there, that was
one of the hardest Opens I'd ever played, and I proved to myself
I could do it. Then I built on that last year at Oakland Hills
that, you know, I'm getting closer to being where I want to be
in the Opens. And, yeah, any success certainly helps, and, you
know, you don't want to bogey the last two holes, but that success
of getting close and feeling what it feels like and seeing how
you handle it certainly makes it easier and is something to build
Q. Davis, your dad played here in 1964. Did he ever talk
about the experience of playing here? What did he tell you about
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, he talked about how long it was for him.
I was walking out of the locker room with Larry Rinker yesterday.
I said, "Boy, this golf course is long." He said,
"Yeah, come back and play with me and see how long it is."
That's the way my dad felt. He's out here trying to compete
with, you know, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, hitting
it short and a club pro, and he was astounded how long it was.
I remember him saying it's hard to hit 4-woods off downhill lies
to hard-and-fast greens. I need to go back and look at his story,
which, you know, any player always embellishes their golf. But,
his story was that he played behind Ken Venturi and it was so
slow and so hot that it made it hard for him, so that was his
excuse. But, of course, his excuse at the '64 Masters was that
I was due to be born any day and that's what messed him up.
And, yeah, I never bought that one either. It was extremely hard
for him to play this golf course, but he always seemed to do well
the bigger the tournament was because he was one of those guys
that got it in the fairway and got it around the greens and was
a wonderful chipper and putter, and had that, you know, that Corey
Pavin kind of get-it-in-the-hole at-any-cost-attitude. And, I
always said, The more I can play like him with my length, the
better I'm going to do because he never gave up. And that's what
I've learned, I think, in the Opens is you have to be patient
and hang in there until something good happens.
LES UNGER: Davis, 4th place, 2nd place, there's only one
DAVIS LOVE III: Thanks.
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