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June 12, 1996

Davis Love III


Q. Phil said that he would not want to see the Open started or played with lift clean and place or any goofy stuff because of the conditions. How do you feel about that?

DAVIS LOVE III: I doubt that they -- I doubt that they would start it with lift clean and place. I don't know, but I wouldn't think they would. I know I wouldn't want to. I wouldn't want them to, for sure, but you know what? If they started that way, I bet Phil plays. I bet we will all go out there and play. However they decide to start it, we will go and start it that way.

Q. You wouldn't be nearly that picky if this was another type tournament, right about lift clean and place?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't like it. I don't like it ever, but I don't think, you know, I don't think -- USGA doesn't have a problem playing with Monday anyway, you know, on the Tour. You know, sometimes it is just not -- just not conceivable to go to Mondays. It is very, very hard. But you know, U.S. Open is going to take precedence come Monday or Tuesday, or Wednesday, so I think you got to look at it from that standpoint. They are willing to go to an 18th hole playoff Monday; they are willing to go to a Sunday round Monday. If it has to get pushed back a day because of bad weather, you are not going to hear a whole lot of complaining out of anybody except maybe the volunteers.

Q. How disappointing is it to have to play this course this way?

DAVIS LOVE III: To have to play it this way? I have never played it any different, because this is the only week I have ever played it. I am disappointed, because I didn't get to play the back 9 but once. I played it yesterday, and I was planning on getting out there today, playing the back again. I played the front three times, so it is just disappointing for any event to have bad weather because there is so much preparation that goes into it. That grounds crew out there is just -- I mean, they have been working as hard as they have been working because of the rain already and now they are out there just shaking their heads because everything they have done to get it ready has just been destroyed. We are hearing stories about how bad the bunkers are and everything. You know, they have got a long night ahead of them to get ready for tomorrow. It is just a shame, you know. It is like everything this club has done and the USGA has done to get it ready is torn apart, but you know, the players have sympathy with that too because we have been preparing for it for a long time, and we want it to go off without a hitch too. But like I said, whatever happens, we are going to have to work our way through it, and if that means waiting and starting on Friday, then we will do it.

Q. Two part question, Davis: Give me an assessment of your game through the first six months of the year and how much you feel experience will play a factor this week through this Championship.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, this year I have been consistently good, I would say. I haven't been consistently great, but I have been consistently good. I have had a lot of top 10 finishes and been, you know, three rounds a week playing pretty good. So I am happy with where my game is going forward, you know. Looking back, I am not happy with it, but going forward, I feel like I am in good shape, setting myself up for the summer with a pretty good swing and pretty good confidence with my putter and pretty happy with the way things are going. And the second part is, you know, experience. If you mean my past U.S. Opens, I think it is very important -- I don't know if past experience on this golf course is that important, but past U.S. Open experience is important because --

Q. What I mean is the experience of playing under these types of conditions.

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, it is pretty important. I think there is a lot of guys that are better at it than others, but I think, you know, first time U.S. Open guys are -- or guys that haven't played a whole lot of big tournaments in these kind of conditions, are going to have a tougher time. It is hard -- this is a patience test without the rain. So then you add the wet conditions and tough lies and mud on your ball and all that, it is just going to test your patience even more, and I think you have to be used to it. You look at Tom Watson; every time it starts raining, his eyes brighten up a little bit. When the wind blows, they get brighter. Some guys like it. Some guys don't. The guys who are very patient, very good attitude, work hard through any type of adversity, will do well in a tournament like this. This is going to -- this course is going to beat up a lot of people this week, and it is whoever hangs in there the longest, I think, especially with it this wet.

Q. Tom said that normally the U.S. Open setup will narrow the number of guys who have a realistic chance of winning. He said that he thought this weather now will actually broaden the number of players that have a realistic chance of winning. Do you agree with that, and if so, can you give your reasons?

DAVIS LOVE III: I wouldn't say -- I wouldn't say that it adds. I think it makes for probably a different group of guys. I still think that the guys that hit the ball real -- not necessarily long hitters, but strong players are going to have an advantage with it this wet. We were just getting to the point where, you know, I was talking to Jeff Sluman and Justin Leonard and Billy Andrade in there while it was raining. They said, "boy, I was just getting to hit the driver and have it run a little bit, and now it is not going to go anywhere." So they are back to thinking they might hit 3-wood or 1-iron now. They are back to now "I have got to hit a driver." I think a lot of guys are going to be forced into playing aggressively off the tee because of the length of the holes and not willing to have a 3-iron or 2-iron or 3-wood to the green, so I think this week is, you know -- after Ernie Els last week, I see somebody like an Ernie Els playing well or Tom Watson, somebody that hits the ball a long way, good solid long iron, mid-iron player. And it is just so wet. They are saying well, the ball won't roll out of the fairway. Well, if it doesn't roll out of the fairway and you are 220 on every hole; it ain't doing you a whole lot of good. Still, it is going to be tough. These greens are big. They say the greens are big; you hit it in the fairway and it is easy to hit the greens. Well, if you are putting 40, 50 feet every time because you are hitting a 3-iron into every green, you are going to 3-putt a lot. So I think the wet is going to make the course play harder. I don't care what anybody -- how they rationalize it -- it is going to play longer and tougher. The rough is going to be deeper because of the rain. It is just going to be generally harder, and you know, that is just the way it is going to be. Going to have to suffer through it.

Q. What adjustments do you have to make as a result of the rain and wet, and do you feel that gives you a little bit of an advantage?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think length is always an advantage in adverse conditions, and I don't think I will have to adjust a whole lot. Usually you have to start adjusting when you are hitting wedges and stuff into the greens because it is going to back up a lot, but I don't think you have to hit a whole lot of wedges on the greens on this course. It is going to be -- you just have to go through and say, look, I am going to get some bad lies and get some bad breaks. I am going to have mud on my ball. I am going to -- I am going to plug it, you know, in a bunker or something. Something bad is going to happen. I just have to be patient and go through it, and you know, if you want to win this tournament, you are going to have to go out there and do whatever it takes to win; doesn't matter if it's wet or if it's dry or if it's unfair or if it's fair or if it's playable or not playable. You are just going to have to do whatever it takes to win. I am just going to go and find a way. I might have to make some adjustment while I am out there. I might have to hit some different clubs off tees or whatever, just to make it work. Really, again, I hate to keep saying it, but it is just going to be a test of your patience and your perseverance out there.

Q. From the tone of your voice, you seem to think that -- you seem to sound as though I have got to get ready to play the first round on Friday and not on Thursday. It seems --

DAVIS LOVE III: I only made one bet that we would play tomorrow if it didn't rain any more because I know how hard they will work to get it back, but you just got to be ready for anything. I talked to Ron Read, and I will bet they are out there looking at the golf course trying to figure out if we can play tomorrow or not. That is the way they are looking at it. That is the way I have got to look at it, too. It is possible. If I haven't heard tonight, I am going to sleep tonight thinking I am playing. You don't want to be caught unaware, but you know, if it rains, if it rains another half an inch or inch tonight, there is probably not much chance of it. So I am as anxious to get it started as anyone in the room and the USGA, so I want to go. If it doesn't, I will just try to practice some tomorrow.

LES UNGER: Point of information: The sun is out at Plum Hollow Golf Course which is about five miles away. We hope it is coming in this direction.

DAVIS LOVE III: Hopefully.

Q. We have talked about the weather. Let us talk about -- you talked about your chances of winning a major, what you need to do and those sorts of thing with your game.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think I need to just play a really good tournament for me. I don't think I have to play anything exceptional. I don't have to raise my game to another level. I think if I just play golf the way I am capable of playing golf, then I could win. I don't think, you know, a whole lot of people will argue that. If I play golf the way I know how to play golf, I can win one of these. It is just a matter of doing it, getting to the level of having the potential to win. I think it is not as hard as getting over that hump of actually winning one, and I think I have got the game for it. It is just a matter if I have got what is inside to handle the emotions of it, and that is the hard part.

Q. Could you elaborate a little bit more for us on that? We all know you have tremendous skills. What will you individually have to do? I am sure you think about these things. Do you have a plan of getting to that level?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, really, as I said, it is just handling the emotions of it. If I can stay patient and stay focused and make each individual shot for 72 holes -- I have got the game, the physical game to win. It is just a matter of doing it emotionally. I have beaten -- the way I rationalize it in my mind, I have beaten all these guys in other tournaments; why shouldn't I be able to beat them in this one? It is just a mental game. If I can handle the mental side of it, then I can do it. If I can handle the TPC, you know, and beat the same, basically the same field, then I ought to be able to do it here. Like I said, if I play golf the way I know how to play golf for 72 holes, I can win and it is just a matter if on those last seven holes I keep playing golf the way I know how to play golf or if I start thinking about winning the tournament and the U.S. Open last year I played very well except for 16 and 18 coming in, and I made a couple of mistakes and started thinking about winning the U.S. Open instead of playing the last three holes; so I have got the physical game, if I can just handle the mental side of it.

Q. You mentioned Tom Watson. I just wondered if there was a feeling among the players that after he won at The Memorial that because it had been a breakthrough for him, that the players were feeling okay, he is back; he is going to be a real force now that he hadn't quite been because he had not --

DAVIS LOVE III: I think all he needed was a bit of confidence. You know, now he knows his putter is going to hold up for 72 holes and he is just going to take off, I think. The players have known for the last five or six years that Tom hits the ball tee-to-green as good as any of us and if not better, and he was just having a few bad holes and few bad putts that kept him from winning. And if he gets a little bit of confidence, he is going to be right back. And you know, I think that was the most popular win that I can remember. Crenshaw Masters last year was great. Jack in '86 at The Masters was great, but you know, I don't think anybody on Tour, you know -- everybody has been pulling for him for so long to come back and win one. That was one of the most exciting tournaments that I can remember since I have been on Tour. We are all excited for him. I think he is going to go a long way from here with it.

LES UNGER: Davis, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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