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February 23, 2006

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis Love III, thank you for joining us after your 1 up win over Carl Pettersson. Heading to the third round, opening comments on two good days for you.

DAVIS LOVE III: Two good days, really, with the putter. And I think you never know in match play, but to continue on, I probably need to hit a few more iron shots close and have more birdie putts to take the pressure off the putter.

But all in all, I felt pretty confident in both matches. Obviously both of them I got 3 up and let them both out of the trap. But I felt pretty good about the way I'm playing, and I obviously like playing here. It's a very comfortable place to play, and I really enjoyed seeing it dry. It's been nice to play it without splashing. But the course is in great shape and I like playing here. I'm enjoying it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: This is your 15th win here at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Any idea why you've had so much success here? There's plenty of players that have a great record in stroke play that haven't succeeded in this tournament.

DAVIS LOVE III: I've always liked match play, and always felt, with some length and making lots of birdies, it suited my game. It comes down to who is the most patient and determined in match play, and that's why you see certain players are really, really good at it and some guys aren't. Hopefully I lean toward the categories of guys that know how to play it. And it obviously helps to play a lot of Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. And these matches seem a lot I wouldn't say easier, but they're a lot less pressure than what you're used to, which is normally the only time you play match play.

Q. You said you have to be patient. What do you mean by being patient?

DAVIS LOVE III: You've got to play the golf course and try to play your normal game. And what happens is like when I've been 3 up and lost a hole and then hit a bad shot and you lose another hole, you start thinking of score. You get out of your normal routine. And if you just play, play your normal game, make pars and putt for birdies, and don't pay attention to what the other guy is doing, it's a little easier.

You start watching, keeping score, you think if I can make a bunch of pars and tie them, you start thinking like that, you've got to go back to the fundamentals of the routine. Tom Kite told me in my first Ryder Cup, expect the guy to make it if he's got a 10 footer or expect him to chip in, then you're not surprised. I did that on 17 when Carl had about a 20 footer for par and I had about a four footer for par. I said, "He's going to make it. Be ready, you're going to have to make that putt to go on to the next hole." Sure enough, he poured it in there.

I was prepared for it. That's what I mean; you've just got to stick with what you know works and not get too wrapped up in what the other guy is doing.

Q. Is match play how can you not, though, not think of the score?

DAVIS LOVE III: You do, that's how you go from 3 up back to even. If you start, you make a mistake, you start thinking the wrong way, that's the beauty of it. That's why a guy can win nine straight holes, so the other guy gets mentally flustered. The other guy you see wild swings and crazy things happen. We say all the time, that's just match play. But it's different, and your attitude can change so fast and you can lose your patience or lose your composure real quick, because you start seeing it slip away and start playing too hard. It's a quick match. You can't say I'll play good tomorrow. You have to do it right here, right now.

Q. You've done just about everything in this event but win it. You have a very good record. Do you feel do you feel sort of underrated as a match play player?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, I feel like my record should be better, certainly Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup. This one anyone can beat anyone on a given day. It's a little bit more of a crap shoot than a three or four day team match. But I feel like I've always been pretty good at it, certainly not the best at it on our Ryder Cup teams, sometimes maybe not the best in the field. But I feel I'm good enough at it that I have a chance to win any match play event I'm in.

Q. When you show up for something like this, do you like your chances more or less or about the same as when you show up for a stroke play event?

DAVIS LOVE III: As Gary Player would say, this week I feel like I like match play better. I like my chances better this week.

I think this format and the International for a long hitter or somebody that makes a lot a lot of birdies, you feel like this is an easier tournament for me to win, maybe, than one where it's going to be a chipping and putting contest. I feel like power always in match play will have an advantage.

Q. You can get by you can be mediocre and get by the first round if your other guy is not playing so well. As we head into the third round and into the weekend, are the chances of doing that how much do they shrink?

DAVIS LOVE III: I used to think that a lot, but I've played some of my best golf and gotten beat early, and then some days you just say no matter what I do, this guy is going to let me out of it. You never really know. I've been steamrolled by Tiger and steamrolled by Duval in the finals. So when you do get to the end you've found the guys that are with the most confidence. Certainly you don't know what the score is going to be or what it's going to take to win.

But when you get to the semis or the finals, there's guys playing with a lot of confidence. The more you play in match play, the more confident you get. Obviously we saw that with Tiger or DiMarco today or a couple of other matches. When you get ahead confidence grows and you really feel like you're playing great.

Q. You're not there; you have to get to Saturday before you get to that point?

DAVIS LOVE III: You have to be patient. You don't know what the other guy is going to do.

Q. Probably going to pump his fist, DiMarco?

DAVIS LOVE III: Probably. But if he's if he loses a bunch of holes he won't be pumping his fist. What do I expect out of Chris? I expect a tough competitor that I'm going to have to play well to beat. I don't think that it got easier all of a sudden because I got DiMarco. You never really know. You've got to go out and play your game. I've got to go out and birdie every hole, just like if this was the third round at Pebble Beach. You've just got to go out and hit every fairway, every green and birdie every hole. I'm not going out there saying if I make three birdies, I'll win.

Q. It sounds like, from what you're saying, that the best way to play this is to continue to put pressure on your opponent?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah. You've got to hold them down when you've got them down and stay after them. That's when you get a guy 2 down, 3 down, and you don't want to hang on; you want to keep trying to make birdies. Don't give them any hope.

Q. So then this is a birdie tournament?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, yeah, definitely. The more birdies you make, even if you're 1 up, 1 down, 1 up, 1 down, you've got to make birdies to win, that's for sure.

Q. Where is your confidence level right now in your game?

DAVIS LOVE III: It's pretty good. I'm driving it better and better and I'm putting better. I'm excited about the direction my game is going. I've been working really hard on getting back in the winner's circle, so I think I'm heading in the right direction. I'm looking forward to the rest of this week and to Florida.

Q. There's been a few foreign guys grumbling that the World Golf Championships haven't moved around the world as much as everybody first thought. As a player are you happy with the way this event has turned out and the other WGC events? Are you satisfied with their direction?

DAVIS LOVE III: As a player that likes to stay home, lives in Georgia, yeah, I like them staying closer to home. If I lived in South Africa or I lived in London, I would want them to move around a little bit more. But as a board member, long time board member, I know that we go where the sponsors want to go and where the TV wants us to go and pick the best places for us to play that they like. And I think when you sit down, which I've done, and all the staff has done, you sit down with a player and say, "let me explain to you why we're playing where we're playing," we don't ever have any arguments. It's more out of I wish they played some in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Sea Island Golf Club, but they're not going to do it, probably. So once you explain, somebody explains to me that Sea Island Golf Club is not going to have the Match Play, I understand it. I think guys understand.

There's a little bit there's a lot of grumbling; there's a lot of foreign players in this tournament and not enough Americans. When you sit down and explain to players, they're higher ranked than you are, you just need to play better, they understand that and move on.

Q. Do you think that these tournaments have grown and become as important as everybody hoped and carry as much weight as everybody initially thought?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think they have. I think they certainly they're anchors in the TV coverage. Other than the majors, they're events that guys obviously they complain if they don't get in them. A lot of players want to be in these tournaments and enjoy the guys that are in them enjoy them. And the only knock we've had is when we've taken a tournament a long way away from the PGA TOUR. Other than that, they've been extremely successful, and, again, the TV loves them.

Obviously the 2007 schedule they're very important. I think they'll continue to grow and we may have to take one for the team and go overseas every once in a while. But most of the time playing close to the U.S., close to the Tour is probably what's going to happen.

Q. Do you think the public has bought into the whole series as much as this was supposed to be a notch above the majors? Do you think they've bought into that?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think anytime you have a great field, they recognize it. I've heard several comments this week saying, why don't you guys play the top 60 in the world more. That's what they want to see; they want to see the top guys play, and these tournaments certainly do that and it puts them on a stage with the other events, being in London, the Akron event, and they've certainly gained their notoriety. People recognize what a World Golf Championship is, because of the field. It's like the PGA Championship; they kept hammering home, we have the best field, we have the best field, we have the best field. And once they hammered it home enough, the people recognized it. And THE PLAYERS Championship, we have the best field in golf. And people have gotten a hold of it. The players want to win it, they're all there.

I think when we go to wherever, London or Akron, people realize that they're big events with all the big players.

Q. From your perspective, could LaCosta reinvent itself and still be a factor, if not on this Tour, on one of the other Tours?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think they have a rich golf history here and they've always done a great job. Again, it boils down to what the sponsors and the TV want. I think if you went out there and asked all the players, you certainly ask the wives, we're not in any hurry to leave LaCosta. But weather and golf course and what the sponsors want, there's a lot of factors that go into it. We have a lot of golf in San Diego, I think, is with the U.S. Open coming up, it's a tough sell for the tournament. It's like having two football teams in the Super Bowl. It's a tough market.

Tucson has been great for the Tour for a long, long time, and so has the North County. So hopefully we'll have something back here one day.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Davis, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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