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March 28, 1997

Davis Love III


WES SEELEY: Davis Love III, 72, 66, 138, 6-under par. Tell us about your day.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I had a very good day after my 6th hole, which was 15. I had a double there, and then after that, I played real well. I was a little more focused and real sharp. I think that just made me mad enough to get going. Right after that, the putter started working, and I played real well the rest of the way in. But I missed too many fairways, really, and put myself in a tough spot too many times. Yesterday and today, I did the same. But, I made some putts today, and when I did hit it in the fairway, I made some birdies. So, it was a good comeback, and I was right there going into 16, where I could go either way, and came back and played real well after that. So, I figured Elk made a double yesterday and had a good round, so that might be the way to do it.

WES SEELEY: Take us around.

DAVIS LOVE III: Started at 10. I birdied 14, with a driver and 5-iron to about 3 feet. And then 15, drove it in the right waste area fairway bunker and hit a 9-iron just left of the green, caught that dip, went down in the -- just in the medium cut -- whatever they call it -- the ramp cut that they have got just at the edge of the deep rough and kind of settled down in there. So I had a tough shot and didn't get it up the hill, and it came back down into the swell and went into a divot. So, tried to putt it out of that and left it about 5 feet short and missed that. So, went from probably easy par to a double real quick. Then 16, driver and 3-iron left of the green in the rough and hacked it out up there about 10 feet and made it for birdie. And then 17, 9-iron to about 6 or 8 feet and made that for birdie. And 18, a 1-iron off the tee, 7-iron just short right of the hole, maybe 35 feet. Made that for birdie. And then 1, a 3-wood and 60-degree wedge about 8 feet again, made that for birdie. 3: A 7-iron about 6 feet behind the hole, made that for birdie. And then 7, drove it right rough, hit a 7-iron about 5, 6 feet, made that for birdie. And then 9, driver, laid up with a 5-iron, and, again, 60-degree wedge from about 80 yards to about 2 feet, made that for birdie.

WES SEELEY: Questions.

Q. Can you talk about how you are progressing after the surgery. Was it a while until you felt 100%?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, my first 18-hole round was the Pro Am at Bay Hill on Tuesday, and I was very tired Tuesday and Wednesday after walking 18 holes two days in a row. I was still a little sore over the weekend and the beginning of this week from practicing and playing so much. But, I am feeling -- each day, I am feeling closer to 100%. Strengthwise, I am fine. I hit normal. And I can hit balls all day, but I am just getting a little sore last weekend, first of this week, but I feel fine, and my back is looser than it was, you know, before I had the problem. And, having three kidney stones on one side and two on the other, I was pretty tight in my back. And, I really didn't know why. So, this has been actually pretty good for me. I am feeling better and better. I can get back into my exercise routine that I was doing pretty good on before, trying to loosen my back up. I think I will be a lot better off.

Q. Go from feeling like an old man to --

DAVIS LOVE III: I was feeling like my back was going to go out. I was asking Freddie a lot of questions about how his back felt before he went out. I was very tight, and it was hard to get loose in the mornings. Sore when I would get out of bed, and I just thought it was -- I wasn't doing enough exercising or something was going wrong. And, it turns out as soon as I got the kidney stones out, all of a sudden, I can make a turn a whole lot easier, so it has been good. I feel like I have got a lot more rhythm in my swing now. I don't have to work so hard to get turn backs, so it has actually been a relief.

Q. When were they removed?

DAVIS LOVE III: I can't give you a date. But it was the Thursday -- the Wednesday of Doral week.

Q. What would you equate the discomfort to?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't have anything to equate it to because I had never had that much pain before. But, I have had several people say -- several ladies say they would rather have a baby than a kidney stone. That is what everybody has been comparing it to. It was pretty intense. I couldn't make it very long without a pain pill for Sunday through Wednesday night. I mean, I was -- it was pretty bad. I couldn't -- once I take my pain pills, I felt real, real good. (Audience laughter.) What Brett Favre was taking didn't help me. That is how bad it was.

Q. Davis, as this round suddenly progressed, you said it didn't start that great, but did you get that feeling back in your mind, hands, body, "I am Davis Love again, this feels good" and something clicked?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I made a couple of putts in a row. That felt real good. I think that was the main thing. I have been hitting the ball good, but just not really making two or three putts in a row. Haven't done that all year, so it was nice to make some putts and get a nice streak going. Really, it wasn't the 4 birdies. It was making the four putts in a row and getting some confidence in the putter.

Q. The kidney stones, was that the main problem of your slow start this year?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, I am not going to stretch it that far. It was my main problem at L.A. and Doral. I have been having some pain in my back, but I don't think it has been affecting my golf. My slow start was -- I had only played a couple of tournaments. I played La Costa and got rained out going into the last round there when I was playing pretty good. Then played Pebble and San Diego, and then -- so that was really it. Vijay Singh said, "Boy, you are not playing so good this year," at the practice tee at Bay Hill. I said, "I haven't played. I have only played three tournaments." So, it is hard to get going when you haven't played much. What I was doing was pacing myself to get to Florida and play a lot because I have -- I am in the middle of six in a row right now. So I didn't want to play five or six on the West Coast. So, unfortunately, my plans didn't come together. I had three on the West Coast and missed Doral, so it really wasn't that good.

Q. Davis, you are not getting old, by any means. But the meter is running, and everybody -- a lot of us -- a lot of people have felt that sooner or later, you are going to burst out into a rage of Majors and all that sort of thing.


Q. Do you feel that this kind of jump-start might be -- might set you off for the year?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think so. I think I have been very patient this year, not feeling like I have got to do something, you know, whether it was L.A. or first starting back at Bay Hill. I feel like I am real patient with myself, and if I am, I can get back to, you know, where I was. I mean, if I can play like I did in 1992 for a whole year, it would be great. So, I feel like I am very, very close; just need a little bit of confidence with the putter to pull me through in the tough times in the Majors, and I would be right there. So, yeah, I feel like there isn't much lacking. It is just that one little bump to get into that level where you get on a streak. And, seems like guys that do that get on a roll for a few years and are competitive in all the big tournaments, they hit that in their mid-thirties, so I am hoping that happens to me. It seems like I have been out here a long time, but I am still just 32. And, I got an early start at it. So, hopefully, some extra experience in my middle thirties is going to be good for me.

Q. Other than the tightness in your back that you were talking about, were there any other symptoms that led you to know that you had this kidney stone problem?

DAVIS LOVE III: I was having some blood in my urine the weekend and during L.A., and that was what -- if I had been telling them, Hey, my back is really hurting, and I am having these sharp pains, and I am having these other symptoms, they would have said, Oh, you must have some kidney stones. But, I just went in and said, "Nothing hurts. I am seeing a lot of blood there." They started panicking. And, probably, if I would have been in Georgia rather than in L.A., where they see a lot of kidney stones, they would have said, "Oh, you have got kidney stones." But, I kind of tricked the doctors out there. So, I had some signs that were not normal, so I probably -- if I had done a better job explaining to the doctor what was going on, he probably could have pinpointed it, and I could have probably been back for Doral. But, we let it drag for three or four days before we nailed it down. Plus, I was trying to play. I would go to the doctor's office for an hour and say, "all right, don't do too much because I have got to play in the morning." Typical athlete not saying, "All right, I have got to stop and see what is the matter." It probably cost me, if not Doral, Honda, getting at least another -- sharp.

Q. You told the doctor about the blood in your urine but really weren't explaining the back problem?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I just thought the back was the back. He said, "What else?" I said, "Nothing else. That is the only thing I am real worried about." Because, I mean, literally, it had been six or eight months of back stiffness, so I wasn't associating the two, and he wouldn't either, probably.

Q. Who did you see in L.A.?

DAVIS LOVE III: I went to Centinela Hospital and saw a neurologist, Dr. Pallos (ph). He took very, very good care of me.

Q. A lot of the guys who are playing well first couple of days are guys that have been playing well here before or won. What type of player does this course suit, in particular?

DAVIS LOVE III: I guess it suits people who hit it straight and putt good. But, I won't put myself in that category. But, you have to be very patient around this course. And, you have to be willing to shoot away from some pins that you don't want to. You have to be willing to shoot at some pins that you don't want to. I think you have to think your way around and expect some bad breaks and not get upset when you get them. And, I think the more you play this golf course, like anyone - but this one especially - the more you play it, you realize that you are going to get some good breaks and bad breaks, and there is going to be some difficult times. If you just hang in there, seems like the scores will come back to you. Or, if you are patient, you can make some birdies, but you just can't force it.

Q. Was being in the divot the most irritating part of that double-bogey?

DAVIS LOVE III: No -- not hitting the green was probably the most irritating thing. I got 9-iron from 125. Perfect lie. Appleby was couple of yards behind me and he knocked it on the green and made birdie. If I would have hit the green, the way I was rolling the ball, it might have been two birdies in a row rather than birdie, double. So, just one of those mental things. It looked so easy to knock it up there, and that is when you get burned.

Q. When you won this tournament before, did it feel like a major to you? I mean, you don't have anything to compare it to now but --

DAVIS LOVE III: It did. And, I think the way you prepare for it and the feeling you get when you are out there playing, that you feel like you are in a major. You don't get that feeling very often, so you know it when you get it. This is one of those tournaments that everybody gets excited to try to win or gets excited to play in. And, it definitely has a different feeling than any other TOUR event.

Q. You talked about how the double made you mad enough to get going. Is there such a thing as good anger and bad anger and sometimes does it take something like that to --

DAVIS LOVE III: I think things like that can get you going, and if I would have walked over and buried my putter in my bag and lost my cool, it probably would have hurt me. But, I got mad and went over there and hit a good drive off the next hole and, you know, told myself that I was going to get back into my game plan and be patient and make some birdies. And, it helps to have 16 right after a double but-- yeah-- if you can use it the right way and make -- remind yourself what you did to birdie the hole before that and what you did to play well in the past and try to get back to it - but if you make a double and start feeling sorry for yourself, you can go the other way just as fast.

Q. Are you staying at home, driving back and forth?

DAVIS LOVE III: No. Tuesday night: Player meeting. And, then Wednesday night, I had to go to a dinner. So, kind of messed up that theory. But, I am thinking I might drive home tonight since it worked in 1992.

Q. Does the Tiger Woods factor affect you at all as a player?


Q. There no inspiration because of--

DAVIS LOVE III: I think there are a lot of great young players coming out now and --

WES SEELEY: Any in the room?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think there is any in the room. (Audience Laughter.) (Tommy Tolles present in interview room.) There are a lot of guys like Tommy Tolles and David Duval and Stuart Appleby and guys like that that have got -- just have as much of a chance to win as Tiger does. And, again, I don't think I am getting old, but guys that have been out here awhile are saying, "Wait a minute. Here comes another bunch of guys that we are going to have to beat." Every year, you are seeing a bunch of new faces that you have never seen before, and watch Stuart Appleby play for two days, this guy is a hell of a player. And, here is a guy, I am going to have to try to beat over the next ten years if I want to stay out here. So, I think all those guys -- Tiger is an obvious one -- but there are a lot of guys out there that are factors and are hard to beat.

End of FastScripts....

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