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June 15, 1996

Davis Love III


LES UNGER: Davis, if you would just give us an overview of the day, and I guess we need to record your birdies and bogeys.

DAVIS LOVE III: Birdies and bogeys, I'll do that real quick. Number 2: I drove it in the right rough and tried to run it up the front of the green and hit it pin-high, you know, right of the bunkers under the tree and pitched it out to about 15 feet and made it for birdie. And number 4, hit a 1-iron in the rough and chopped it out with a sand wedge, hit it about 40 feet short of the hole and 2-putted for bogey. And then 6, 1-iron off the tee, pitching wedge 20 feet behind the hole and made that. And 7: 1-iron, 7-iron about 30, 40 -- about 40 feet past the hole, ran it about four feet by and missed it. And then 8: Hit a driver, 6-iron, through the green, up the hill, and then tried to run it through the grass. Didn't quite get it on the green and then putted it down six inches from the hole and made bogey. And then 11: Hit a 1-iron, 8-iron about four feet behind the hole and made that. 13: 7-iron left of the flag down in the dip, left it about five feet short and missed that. And then 14: Driver, 9-iron about four feet short of the hole, made that. And then I parred in. Hit -- missed the green at 14 and got up-and-down and then -- I mean at 15 -- and got up-and-down and then hit the green the last three.

LES UNGER: Your general thoughts on the day's play?

DAVIS LOVE III: Generally, you know, I made some birdies finally, four birdies. It was really nice, but I made some mistakes, too. I missed a couple of fairways with a 1-iron which is, you know, a bad mistake. And then the two 3-putts, which weren't easy putts, but just shouldn't 3-putt at this stage of the tournament unless it is an impossible putt. And they -- they were definitely 2-puttable. So other than that, pretty solid. Drove the ball well. Hit a lot of greens and made some birdies, so at least got that going for tomorrow.

LES UNGER: Okay. We will have questions.

Q. Davis, going into the final round tomorrow, are you going to shoot for a number or what particular mindset are you going to use going into the last round?

DAVIS LOVE III: I'm just going to try and go out and stay patient, do the best I can on every hole. There is no telling what is going to happen. I mean, you know, who knew Tom Lehman was going to be leading at the end of the day starting at 3-over, so you just never know. And I certainly don't want to pick a number and get there and have it be one short. So I am just going to go out and shoot as low as I can and hang in there as long as I can tomorrow and hopefully I can get up a number that will be good enough. I will be close enough at the end of the day, I guess third from the end again, where I will know what is going on. But you know, I am sure it is going to take, you know, a good score tomorrow. I don't think even par would do it -- I wouldn't think -- but you just never know. Just got to go out and play. I wanted to be even par after three rounds and here I am, so that is not quite good enough. So I guess I need to go out there tomorrow and just get as low as I can. I got 65. I guess Tom Lehman's score is probably the goal, because that is probably as good as it is going to get.

Q. Two years, maybe three years ago you got on a little bogey streak. 7, 8, how do you react differently and how would you have reacted?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think I would have gotten really mad about, you know, how hard the course is and how hard the greens are and how bumpy the greens are and gotten a little frustrated. And now I know that the key to winning this tournament is keeping your patience. And I made two mistakes at 7 and 8, and I kept my patience and hung in there and got a birdie at 11 and had a great chance for a birdie at 12, drove it a million miles down there, and made par. So you know, I stayed patient, you know, bogeyed 13, birdied 14. I was hanging in there, and I think that is the difference from just experience.

Q. Not only today, but really the last three days, seen a lot of short putts missed. It is more than just because it is a U.S. Open course, or what do you think the reason behind that is?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yesterday I had a 6-footer for birdie at 15 and the commentator after I missed it says, you know, that was one he gave away because that was a very makeable putt from under the hole. I was six feet away and I had a one-foot break. If I hit it a little bit too hard, I am going to have a 6-footer coming back. That is what people don't see is the 2-putts I missed. I am playing 4 and 5 inches of break from four feet and the greens are a little bit bumpy, and they are fast. You can't just wham them in the hole. If you hit it too hard, you got another one coming back. I think that people don't realize you get out, walk around on these greens. There isn't really a flat place on them. And you know, you see guys marking it from a foot, lining their ball up and taking their time. I mean, they really got a lot of turn to them, and it is not like we are playing at, you know, at Doral where pretty much there is not a whole lot of break in any of the greens and you don't have to put too much thought on it, just get the pace. Here, you know, I had a putt at 18 from 25 feet that is breaking 15 feet. I mean, you got -- they are hard to make and that is why yesterday I hit the ball great, but I never really had a whole lot of makeable putts. I had that one at 16, so it is just real hard to make them with all that turn in them.

Q. Other than 17, which of the greens are getting really hard and how difficult is it to deal with that consistency?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, there is a few of them that are pretty crusty. 9 is pretty hard, and 10 was a little firm, 11. 14 was a little soft and 13 was a little soft and 12 was a little soft. There is no rhyme or reason as to why they are, but we will remember it today, that the pins -- it's going to be hard to stop it at 17 and probably pretty easy to stop it at 16. So I don't know. There is just something about -- maybe the ones that it is up real high or harder, I don't know, but you know, that is the one thing. We haven't had to put a whole lot of thought into is the ball going to stop or not. Now it is getting a little tricky. Some of them are going to run when they hit and some of them aren't, but I suspect that there wouldn't a whole lot of water put on them tomorrow. They are going to get a little firmer tomorrow.

Q. You were talking about keeping your patience. Is it more than patience? Does it feel at times, especially in the Open, like it is just downright unfair and coping with your -- being that it is not golf as you understand golf, and getting over that?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, I think when you decide that you want to win this tournament and you start figuring out what it takes and talking to the people that know how to win them, you figure out that it isn't necessarily all golf, you know? And I think that is the hardest thing to conquer is that you not only have to play really good golf, you have to win the inner battles and the mental battles and those are sometimes the hardest. And I think that is why this tournament is so hard to win is because you have to do more than just go play golf like you do week in and week out. And you know, that is what separates it. That is why it is, you know -- I am not going to say whether it is fair or unfair to have 6-inch rough all over the golf course, but that is the way it is. And you know, you just got to go out and play. And I don't think the Sonics think is it fair to have to play a guy like Michael Jordan, but if they want to win the championships, they are going to have to play him at least for two more games. You just have to get out there and play what they give you, and you know, over time, this format has produced a lot of great champions, and I want to be on that list some day. And so I am not going to go to the USGA and say I think they ought to have shorter grass. I am going to go out there and try to figure out a way around that.

Q. Last fall you were part of our Ryder Cup team at Oak Hill. In addition to the match played format, can you describe for us the difference, if there is, as far as the pressures playing with teammates as opposed to for yourself?

DAVIS LOVE III: It is a different kind of pressure. I mean, U.S. Open is all for you. It is your own goals, and the Ryder Cup is obviously your country and your teammates. It is a scary kind of pressure in the Ryder Cup. It is a fear of -- fear of losing and your feeling and of wanting to contribute and be a part of something special. This is different. I think I am the last -- on the last 9 holes there is no pressure greater than the U.S. Open, but for some reason at the Ryder Cup, it lasts for three days. That is why, you know, you see guys sweating it out so bad at the Ryder Cup because it starts from the first hole and, you know, the U.S. Open is a lot of pressure from the first hole, too. But you know, it really gets down to -- to the crack in time, the last 9 holes, if you have got a chance. But I think the Ryder Cup for some reason -- and probably because they run a flag up a pole and you got a captain looking at you on the first tee and 11 other teammates that the pressure starts a little earlier, that intense gut wrenching pressure starts a little bit earlier in the week.

Q. I was just wondering, Tom Lehman earlier was talking about getting closer to a Major Championship, being in position, and how every time you get in position, it kind of raises your level of maturity and whatnot. I was wondering if you can expand on that a little bit, how it might relate to yourself and also wanted to know if you could just comment on him shooting 65 today.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it was a great round. I played with him the first two rounds. He was real close to playing good. And I said outside, I think he just got mad, that he just got mad enough that he went out and played aggressively and kept firing at it and knew he could put up a good round. And he had thrown away a lot of shots and just had a little bit of motivation to make up some ground for shots that he had thrown away. It was just a fabulous round. Obviously, I guess it is a course record and ties the course record and low round of the tournament. And you know, it is an incredible round. And you know, I don't know. Every time you get in position in a Tour event or the Ryder Cup or The Masters or anything, it is good experience and this is good experience for tomorrow and for the future. Obviously both of us can't win, so one of us is going to come away or maybe both of us will come away with a lot of experience, and under the pressure of a U.S. Open -- and he is a great player. And you know, he is going to learn a lot from tomorrow and so will I. And you know, it is going to be very, very difficult out there for all of us. And you know, he is the guy that is leading, but there is a whole lot of guys still in it and you know, you just have to stay patient.

Q. Is this the best shape you have been in after three rounds after major?

DAVIS LOVE III: Numbers wise, I don't know, but it is similar position to what I was in The Masters in the Open last year.

Q. Many of the players are really having fits on the last few holes. How do these finishing holes stack up as the toughest or near toughest that you have seen?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, they are obviously very hard. I mean, 16, if you miss the fairway, it is you know, you are looking at, you know, a bogey probably unless you make a putt and you can make a big number there. That is where the most potential to make a big number is if you make a bad swing. And 17 is a long, hard hole with a hard green and you have to hit a good shot there. And then 18, of course, is the hardest hole on the course. It is a tough stretch. You have to hit good shots to survive it.

LES UNGER: Thank you for coming. Good luck tomorrow.


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