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August 18, 2006

Davis Love III


KELLY ELBIN: 1997 PGA champion Davis Love III joining us after a round of 3 under par 69 for a two day total of 137, one shot back in the second round of the PGA Championship.

Davis, looked like it was an interesting start to what turned out to be a pretty good round all in all, huh?

DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, I'm making it interesting every day. But as I said over there, it took me a little longer to get 3 over par, it took me three holes rather than one hole. But it's a major, and if you don't hit good shots, you can make bogeys really quick. I hit two bad shots and then probably a wrong club and made three easy bogeys in a row.

It's unfortunate, but I'm playing very well and making a lot of birdies and I stayed very patient today and came back from it.

KELLY ELBIN: Would you go through your card, please, birdies and bogeys?

DAVIS LOVE III: Started at 10 with a driver, 3 wood, just up in the rough, short of the green, probably 50 feet short of the hole and chipped up six inches.

11, hit the fairway and missed the green with a 7 iron in the bunker and blasted out about 30 feet and missed it.

12, hit a good drive and a 7 iron left side of the green in the fringe pin high and three putted.

13, I hit a 3 iron that landed on the back slope of the bunker and shot through the bunker up into the grass, a lot like the shot I had at 17 yesterday, and flipped it out in the middle of the green and two putted.

Then 14, hit a good drive and a 3 wood just about 15, 20 feet from the hole just off the green and chipped it down there and made about a five footer for birdie.

16, hit a drive and a it was a 6 iron, kicked off the side of the green into the right bunker, but I holed the bunker shot luckily.

And 1, 3 wood in the left bunker and an 8 iron to about 15 feet.

4, a driver and a pitching wedge to about eight or ten inches.

And then 6, a driver and a 6 iron to about two feet.

Then some boring pars the rest of the way.

Q. Can you compare how you're playing right now in this championship to last year at Baltusrol where you also started out really well?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think very similar. I'm hitting the ball well and just making a few mistakes, but I'm hitting the ball a long way and hitting a lot of good, solid shots. When I do hit a good iron shot at the green, it seems like it's right at it or real close, so that tells me if I'm concentrating good and focused on what I'm doing, I'm going to hit a pretty good shot into the green. I've just got to hit some fairways and stay relaxed and stay patient, but I'm playing very similar.

Q. Are you a little surprised at how well you've been playing? It didn't seem like your practice rounds, at least on Monday when you guys were out there, you were all that enthused about where it was going and how you were hitting it at least at that point.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, Monday (laughing). After The International, the goal Monday was to play 9, and then we played 13 and then we played 18. We were all just kind of blah. I hit it better every day. Jack Lumpkin, my teacher, was here until last night, and I hit it better and better every day. I felt like I was close every day until the last day, and I was actually just very, very jumpy and nervous the first day getting started at The International, and after that I played two pretty good rounds.

I felt like if I would just get some good rhythm this week and be patient, I could play well. I'm not surprised I'm surprised at a couple of the mistakes I've made, and I'm surprised at how easy it was to be 7 under through 10 yesterday. But you get on a streak like that every once in a while.

Q. You've spoken quite a bit about wanting to make the Ryder Cup team so badly and it's almost had an adverse effect on you because you've sort of been pressing. I wonder if there's an example of that?

DAVIS LOVE III: We can go through a lot of them. I think the one that really shook me the most was Charlotte when I was hanging in there really good on Sunday and came down 16 and I didn't look at the scoreboard, but I saw the scoreboard that I had popped up to like 4th maybe, and then fatted it in the lake at 17, and I finished like double bogey bogey or something like that. Those kind of things usually when I run up the leaderboard on Sunday, it's usually one of my best days, and I've shot the low round of the day on Sunday a lot to go from 25th to 4th, you know. I've had a couple of those where I felt like I was going to do that, and then right when I get in the Top 10, I just immediately would fall back out.

That's nothing more than getting out of the present and into some kind of results. I've always done a good job ever since I first came out on Tour, my dad gave me great advice, and I never really have played for money. I've never thought about, well, this is a $100,000 putt or this tournament is worth $1 million, or I need to move up into the Top 10 so I can make more money. But I think this year I've started playing for points, and it's really been a distraction.

I've enjoyed the last couple weeks because it's been a challenge to put that out of your head. About half the time last week I did it, and I've done it about 75 percent of the time this week, so if I can improve on that on the weekend I'll be in good shape. Yeah, I've backed myself into a corner. Sometimes you start doing the things you're supposed to be doing a little bit better when you're backed into a corner.

Q. I know you'd like to win any of the other three majors, but you've always had a special affinity to the PGA Championship. Could you speak to that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've always enjoyed it. I think in my 20 years of playing, this has become a tournament that the players enjoy more maybe than some of the other majors just because of the way they set the golf course up, and the approach of the PGA of America. They've really made an effort just because they were the fourth one of the year, they've always been somewhat thought of as the last one or not the best one. You know, they've made a major no pun intended effort in golf courses, in setup. I think Kerry Haigh does an incredibly good job. They're not afraid of red numbers, and I think some of the other people that are setting up golf courses are afraid of red numbers, and therefore it makes it not as good a championship.

THE PLAYERS Championship has gone a little bit in that direction a couple times, getting afraid of it. So I think we're going to move back in the direction of setting up the golf course like this and letting the players play. If a guy is playing great, let him be 7 under through 10. If he hits a bad shot and screws up, he's going to make a triple. I think that's the way it ought to be. I don't think you should have a ten footer for par every hole. I think they do a good job here. Obviously the history of my father and him playing in the Championship and it being important to him has certainly made it important to me.

Q. Just curious, how would you best describe this season so far for you, and what would be the explanation for it in your mind?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think we've already covered that. I'm trying too hard to make the Ryder Cup team and it's been disappointing.

Q. Even at the beginning of the season?

DAVIS LOVE III: You know, I haven't seen really any change. You know, I came out this year trying to play well and win tournaments and make points, and I think I've gotten pretty much the same results all year. I just haven't been as free wheeling and as loose as I usually am when I play.

Q. You played a lot with Lucas Glover. Knowing that he's the top ranked American player in his 20s, do you think he has the game to stay there and be a young American star?

DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, he definitely does. I realized it in 2001 at the Walker Cup when my son and a couple of other boys who must have been about eight, I went out to the Walker Cup, and I said, who are we going to watch, and they said, "we're watching Lucas Glover." They had figured it out, that this guy was going to be good. He was fun to watch and he hit it a long way, and they loved the style and the confidence that he has. I think he's going to be a guy that's going to be around for a long time because he hits it a long way and he's still learning to control his irons and his distances and his emotions a little bit. I think he's a lot like a Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson that has the power and has all the shots and just has to learn how to play the game a little bit, and when he does, he's going to be consistently at the top. I hope he makes this Ryder Cup team because he'll probably be in a lot of them going forward.

Q. There have been a lot of low scores so far this tournament, but there haven't been a whole lot of bogey free rounds. There have been a lot of 68s and 69s like yours with five or six birdies and a couple bogeys. Is that the product of missing fairways out here, and is missing fairways leading to most of the bogeys? And if you hit the fairway, are you therefore going to have a much better chance to make a birdie?

DAVIS LOVE III: You would think it's mostly missing fairways. I've done mine mostly in missing greens. You would think, yeah. I heard that from a lot of guys, that they missed too many fairways and they made too many bogeys. You're either going to be in the deeper rough or you're going to be behind a tree with a decent lie. It's going to be hard to hit the greens if you miss the fairways.

You can get away with it every once in a while. It's not like the U.S. Open where everyone is a chop out. But the more fairways you hit, the better chances you're going to have. Even though the card is really, really long, the course doesn't play as well because most of it is in the 5s and 3s. If you hit the fairway, you're going to have some iron shots to the greens, and maybe they'll tuck the pins a little bit more on the weekend. It's been pretty fair so far. If you hit fairways and hit some good iron shots, you can make some birdies.

Q. With all your experience do you find it easier to bounce back from poor starts like today, and what were you telling yourself after the start today?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, just to be patient and that things happen in majors. You're not going to par every hole. It's going to be hard to hit every shot in the fairway and every shot on the green and you're not going to get a good lie every time you hit a shot, so you've just got to be patient.

Q. Throughout your career whenever you've won, what has been a truer statement, you've held together mechanically with your swing, or you've held together mentally through the tournament, and which one represents a greater challenge for you at this point in your career?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think mentally is the answer to both. I think when I've played well, I've not necessarily been hitting the ball perfectly going in or feeling 100 percent confident with my swing, but I've done the right things mentally. I've always thought putting wise I did my best my best attribute was that I did a good job mentally, and maybe physically I wasn't the best putter but I was mentally tougher than guys when I was putting well.

I think to win a major, to win any tournament, you have to be doing everything well, plus the mental game has to be very, very sharp. I see that as Tiger and Phil's biggest strength is their mental game. I can hit it as far as Phil and I can hit iron shots like Tiger a lot of times, but I think their strength is mental, just like Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky or any of the great ones. I think they beat guys mentally more than they do physically.

Q. I suppose a follow up to that question, how would you assess your confidence and your mental game now and what's your mindset going into the weekend?

DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's growing every day. I'm excited about the challenge. I've made a lot of birdies, and I know they're out there, and I've seen a lot of good shots. So I'm excited about the challenge of the weekend. Who knows what they're going to shoot this afternoon, but wherever I am, I'm in good position. 7 under after two days, I'm excited about the weekend.

Q. Through the years you've always been one of the most cooperative and candid golfers with us, and I understand that the last year or two you've gotten a little upset with people in the press criticizing you; is that true? Is there anything to that?

DAVIS LOVE III: No, just a couple people (laughter). Not a lot. I had an incident that's been a long time ago where a couple different people ripped me unfairly. But no, for 99 percent of the time, I've enjoyed my experience in here and out around the 18th green. I have been frustrated with myself more than anybody else the last couple years.

You know, I think I stand up for the things that Tom Kite or Ben Crenshaw or Byron Nelson stand up for, and sometimes that gets you in trouble. I stand up for the things that my mom taught me and what I learned since I was a little kid in Sunday school, and sometimes people don't like that these days. Sometimes when you're honest and you state your faith or your beliefs and you tell people that they shouldn't act like that on the golf course, sometimes people don't like that. But you know what, the letters that I get and the e mails that I get indicate that I'm heading in the right direction. You can't please everybody.

But I thank everybody for their patience with me the last couple years because I haven't played very well and I haven't been much fun to talk to.

Q. Two questions: One, honestly, if you were the captain of the Ryder Cup, what do you think you have to do to make this team? And secondly, do you remember your first Ryder Cup experience, and what do you remember best out of that?

DAVIS LOVE III: I remember getting to play with Tom Kite three matches against Olazábal and Ballesteros, which was a lot of fun, and at the same time it wasn't a lot of fun to have to play those two guys. But I learned a lot from Tom Kite and I think I carried it with me through a lot of Ryder Cup matches and Presidents Cup matches. Tom was a mentor to me on and off the golf course right from day one on the Tour. It was a thrill to play for all the captains I've played for. But I think the first one, getting to play with Tom Kite, was a big thrill for me.

If I was Tom Lehman, you know, I don't know I know he's been very, very smart in everything he's done so far and everything that he's told me, so he's doing a great job. He's been a great motivation to me to play well because I know how bad he wants to win.

You know, I would hate to be in his shoes right now, but hopefully one day I am in his shoes having to decide who to take with me. I told him all along, take the guy who's playing good. Don't worry about anything else, experience, age, highest ranked player under 30 that's an American. Take whoever is playing good, is what I told him. I know he's going to do that because he wants to win.

Q. From what you've seen of Tom and this process so far of being the captain and also playing alongside him, when you heard that Tom was going to be the captain, what do you think of when you think of Lehman? What stands out about him as a captain for this team?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, he's always been one of the upstanding, good, Christian guys on our Tour that always whether it was popular or not, stood up for what he believed in. To be able to make the speech he did at Champions when Payne Stewart passed away and then yesterday what he did with The Memorial to Heather Clarke, he's a strong person and a faithful person, and he's gotten a lot out of his golf game. He works hard.

I was happy for him. I told him at first I didn't realize he was that old. I thought he was my age. But I'm glad he's captain. He's done a great job. We all want to win the Ryder Cup back badly, but then when you see Tom and Melissa put a year and a half of hard effort into it, it makes you even play a little harder to get on the team and will certainly make us play harder when we get there.

Q. I know you just said that it's a tough spot that Lehman is in as far as deciding captain's picks, but in your opinion do you feel you deserve to be a captain's pick?

DAVIS LOVE III: To be honest with you, no, not right now. I think I need to give him a reason to pick me. I'd love to give him a reason not to pick me and go ahead and win this tournament and let him go pick somebody else. You know, I base it on the way guys have been playing. This weekend is not the whole year, for me or for Lucas Glover or for whoever is 11th, John Rollins and Stewart Cink. It's not the whole year. But he can't go wrong really with any of the guys in the top 25 I don't think. They're all playing their hearts out, and certainly any of them could get ready to play. I'd caution him to just take whoever he thinks is playing best and not worry about, again, who's got the most experience or the least experience.

They talk about our team doesn't have a whole lot of experience, but the first six have a hell of a lot of experience. They've played a lot of Presidents Cups and a lot of Ryder Cups. After that, the rest of those guys are going to play a lot of Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, so I think we're in good shape. I think he can't really go wrong. I'd love to play my way on, though.

KELLY ELBIN: Davis Love III, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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