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June 16, 1996

Davis Love III


LES UNGER: Davis Love is with us after finishing third, and we would like to ask him to make a few general comments and then we need to cover the card, then we will be Open for questions, thanks.

DAVIS LOVE III: I am dropping spots as I sit here, I guess.

LES UNGER: Tied for second, I apologize.

DAVIS LOVE III: That's all right. A general comment is that I am a little bit closer than I was last year and a lot more disappointed than I was last year, you know. I tied for fourth last year with a double on the last hole last year, bogeyed the last two holes this year. It is disappointing. I don't know what to say. I just -- I didn't hit a good shot at 17, hit a good putt, though, and hit two good shots at 18 and obviously didn't hit the putt hard enough. I thought the ball was going to roll down the hill, but it really didn't. And you know, I hung in there. I shot what I thought was a pretty good score anyway. Those guys hung in there on the last few holes, and my hat is off to Steve Jones. I mean, what a comeback from not playing golf for three years, and he will tell you all the stories, but it is a great comeback back, and I am very happy for him. In 1987 he blew a ball out of bounds at 18 at Harbour Town and basically gave me my first Tour win. And you know, ever since then, I felt, you know, a little bit of pulling for Steve Jones, and when he was hurt, I was hoping he would come back. And when he came back I have been proud of him for the way he has played and, you know, it doesn't make my finish any easier, but I am happy for him.

LES UNGER: Can we --

DAVIS LOVE III: The card. Number 2, missed the fairway in the left bunker, blasted out about 100 yards and from the hole; knocked it up there about 15 feet and made it for birdie. Hit a sand wedge in. Number 4: Hit a 1-iron through the fairway into the bunker, had no shot, just knocked it down the fairway; hit a sand wedge about 15 feet and missed it. Number 8: A driver, 7-iron, about 15 feet behind the hole and made it. Number 10: Missed the fairway again with a 1-iron, knocked it just short of the green in the rough; hit it about 40 feet by the hole and 2-putted. 11: 1-iron off the tee, 8-iron to about 20 feet, made that for birdie. And then 12: Drove it left; laid up about 100 yards from the hole and hit a sand wedge a little through the green just in the fringe about 25 feet and made that for birdie. 15: I hit a 3-wood just past the trap, pitching wedge to about ten feet and made that. 16: Again missed the fairway, drew a pretty good lie; knocked it just through the green with a pitching wedge from about 125 and just trickled the ball down to the hole, blade and a sand wedge. And then 17 just came off a 5-iron a little bit, knew if I hit it real good it would be too much club and was just trying to hold it into that then and let it go with the wind a little too much. Got there where I had no chance and tried to lob it down to the bottom of the hill actually, it was about all I could do was to get a 20-footer and hit pretty good putt and it just ran out of gas. 18: Hit a 3-wood off the tee so I wouldn't go through the fairway like Lehman ended up doing and I almost got into the deep rough. I was in the first cut with a 3-wood hit, 6-iron out of a bad lie, good shot, 20 feet behind the hole. And the first putt I thought was just going to be screaming fast. I was thinking what I did on 16 was what I needed to do is just get it started down the hill on the right line and it would get all the way to the hole. Some reason it just didn't get there. I guess I didn't hit it hard enough. When I hit it, I thought it would trickle down to the hole. It just never picked up speed. The second putt, the same thing, just trying to play it right edge, trickle it down the hill. If you put any hit on it at all, it is going to go three, four feet by, and it just never got going either. And you know, I felt pretty good on both putts. I was thinking about making both of them. I was extremely nervous, but I was pretty much all day. I made some great saves. I missed a lot of fairways and some greens and made some great up-and-downs, and you know, made some great putts for birdie to put myself in that position. So you know, I can't be totally disappointed with the way I played, but the way I finished it is not going to sit too well.

LES UNGER: Questions, please.

Q. Can you talk about that last day at Harbour Town, that first victory and how you played that day and what went on?

DAVIS LOVE III: I played pretty well and posted a good score and Steve was in trouble a lot on the back 9, if I remember, and -- but hung on and was one stroke ahead after I had already holed out. I don't know if he knew what I had done or what, but he just hit it out of bounds right and made double bogey when bogey -- or else it would have been a playoff. I was sitting there seeing my score card thinking that was a pretty good tournament; I am going to finish second, that is my best finish ever, and all of a sudden I won. So you know, I have given away a lot of regular tournaments, and, you know, you win some and you lose some, and I know that was one that has hurt him. But then he came back and played very well. I think he won three the next year, maybe, or in the next couple of years he won three in one year, so you know, Steve was playing great golf when he hurt himself, and he just proved it today that he is a great player.

Q. Davis, last year, before you won the U.S. Open, Corey Pavin was called by many people "the best American golfer not to win a major." I know athletes don't like labels. Do you think that now might apply specifically to you?

DAVIS LOVE III: If you want it to. I mean, I have heard it for the last couple of years along with Corey, but I feel like I should win them, yes.

Q. Davis, on 17, was there a distraction from some machinery behind the tee there?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, there was something going on, something turned on. It sounded like a hose or a truck letting off steam or something, but I was trying to hit a 5-iron and not hit it real hard. I just hung on to it a little bit, trying to not let it go left, and you know, there is no excuses. I just hit a bad shot, and there is distractions out there if you let them distract you. I had flies landing in my line over and over again on that short putt on 18, but I kept getting into my routine and trying to make it, and you know, I am not going to blame anything outside. I didn't -- I missed a lot of fairways. I missed a lot of greens, and I missed a lot of short putts in the last two days, and that is the difference, so I've got no excuse.

Q. Davis, can you describe the lie you had behind number 17 and why you felt that such a high lob was the only play you had?

DAVIS LOVE III: It was the only -- the only shot because if I try to bounce it over the hill, it is just going to pick up even more speed. I put it in a place where you know, nine times out of ten, you are going to make bogey. You are going to have to make a long putt, and the only shot was to try to fly it all the way to the hole and just have it hit and stop. And I flew it halfway down the hill rather than all the way to the bottom. But you know, I was basically dead where I hit it. I knew when it kicked straight and took off to the right, that I had a problem. And you know, it was a very easy pin for me, if I just started left of the flag somewhere and let the wind take it, I mean, that pin was just there for a cut 5-iron for me, and I just hung on to it, so....

Q. Missing some right and left on the early holes. Was there anyone thing wrong with the swing?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think it was the swing. I think I was just a little tight and not swinging -- going ahead and swinging at it. You know, when I go back and look at my round, I hit my first fairway on 6, and then missed 7, and hit 8 and missed 10, missed 12, you know. I hung in there pretty good considering that I didn't drive the ball well. That was pretty much the strength of my game yesterday. I grounded out today pretty good, you know, as my dad always said, I was one swing away from probably winning the U.S. Open. So that is just the way I got to look at it, and go back to work and try to get it next time.

Q. Davis, Steve Jones was, I believe, was 3-under when you were playing 18. Did you have a feeling he might slip back a notch into and that par would be good enough to get into the playoff?

DAVIS LOVE III: I was thinking about making birdie. I didn't know what those guys were going to do. You just never know, so I was thinking birdie the whole time. And you know, obviously, it turned out that par was good enough, but to get -- but I was thinking about making birdie to get a par off.

Q. How did this course play today compared to some other venues you have played in similar pressure conditions?

DAVIS LOVE III: It was as hard as I have played day in and day out. I think, you know, the length of the course and the depth of the rough and there just never really is a let-up in the course and the greens are pretty severe. So I think it was probably the toughest tournament I have ever played.

Q. You said before that you had given away a lot of tournaments. Would you put this one in that category right now?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I was talking about regular Tour events. I don't think this one is in that category. I don't want to take anything away from Steve Jones. He has put up the lowest score ever shot at this golf course. He should win. And you know, I am not -- I don't want to take anything away from what he did. I don't want anybody to say that I gave this away. I did not play well the last two holes, but I played really good for 72, and shot, you know, tied Andy North and; that, you would think would be good enough. And you know, so did Tom. So you know, I played with Tom the first two days, he gave away a lot of strokes the second round. You know, we all did it. I am sure Steve threw away a lot too, so, you know, all the credit goes to him.

Q. Davis, the thinking that this was Father's Day and knowing the relationship you had with your dad, does that weigh on you at all positively or negatively at all?


Q. If you had the last 3-footer to hit over, would you hit it with more pace, or is that just the only way that putt can be hit?

DAVIS LOVE III: I thought I hit it hard enough. Yeah, I certainly didn't want to miss it on the right lip. You miss it on the right lip, you have got another 3, 4-footer coming back, and you know, you just -- yeah, I would like to hit it just a tad harder, but you know, you just don't ever know. I had a few balls go back and -- look at the tape -- I had a few balls go up to the edge of the hole and fall in, you know. If those go out, that putt doesn't mean anything, so you know, yeah, I'd like to try it again, but maybe next year.

LES UNGER: Davis, thank you. (APPLAUSE)

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