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October 8, 2006

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome the winner of the 2006 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro, Davis Love, III.

DAVIS LOVE: Sorry, we're talking racing.

TODD BUDNICK: Davis, congratulations on your 19th career PGA Tour win and your first since 2003. I know a big relief for you.

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah. After '03, I thought we were on a roll and just, unfortunately, hadn't happened for awhile so it's exciting, it's a big relief and, you know, hopefully the start of bigger things to come, and I told Tom Lehman about I guess a month before the PGA that I was going to play good before the end of the year, I just couldn't promise him when it was going to be.

He took that to heart, I guess and, you know, I knew I was close. I knew when I got on my way I would play well and, you know, it took, you know, maybe sometime off and some reflecting and getting my patience back but certainly grinding for the Ryder Cup was it was a detriment and also I did it the wrong way and, you know, you've been out 20 years, you're not too old to learn new tricks.

I certainly learned a big lesson this year because I wanted the Ryder Cup so bad that I let it get in the way of everything else I was doing so it's nice to be back, you know, challenging for the lead and pulling it off rather than, you know, finishing 15th all the time.

TODD BUDNICK: This is your second victory here at Forest Oaks. Of course, your company redesigned it a couple years ago. First one 14 years ago.

Similarities, differences between the two outside of the course changes?

DAVIS LOVE: Outside of the weather. I felt comfortable with this weather because I played one of the best rounds I ever played at this course when the weather was similar and it looked like Hunter Mahan was doing that this morning, just blow everybody away.

At least that told me there were some birdies out there and that the course was holding up, it wasn't sloppy and it's a long time between wins and I was playing great in '92 but I believe, obviously, now I'm a little more experienced and certainly a better putter and more controlled player but I was on a roll in '92. That was a lot of fun.

It's a tournament I always remember playing with Tom Kite and winning. I'll always remember this one because it's like starting over again, like getting your first win all over again.

TODD BUDNICK: Final round 66 today. The key holes probably 13 through 15, those three birdies. Talk about today.

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah. Certainly. After plugging it in the bunker at 7 which was just, you know, typical of what happens to me when I'm playing well, making a silly mistake like that, buried in the bunker and, you know, I made the putt and then birdied the next hole and it looks like wow, that's just a trade you have, bogey on an easy hole, birdie on a hard hole.

That was the biggest, you know, two holes probably of my year because I could have gotten, you know, frustrated and disappointed and said here we go again, and I came right back and got back into my game plan and I knew I was hitting the ball well.

I knew I was putting well and came right back with a birdie and nice long putt at 10, only long putt I really made all week, and that was obviously pretty big and then I had nice stretch of birdies around the par 5s and 14, which I really have to do, have to birdie those par 5s.

I drove the ball except for 16, really, under the pressure, I drove the ball very, very well and gave myself a chance. That's what I said yesterday, I have to drive it more in the fairway and give my putter a chance because I'm putting very well.

I'm excited to pull it off here. People want me to win, they expect me to win and especially at a place like this and that's been my problem is expectations, whether they're mine or other people's, it's nice to put those aside and just play golf.

TODD BUDNICK: Alright. We'll take some questions.

Q Davis, when you got the lead, what was your mindset, did you just think you had to do more or what

DAVIS LOVE: I was just trying to birdie every hole. I was peaking at the leaderboard off and on. I wasn't staring at it as much as I usually do.

I looked early and saw, you know, that somebody was, you know, 6 under, I can't remember, which is good.

I didn't pay as much attention to what everybody else was doing and I talked to my daughter and her horse trainer about the way they were riding their horses at the Nationals, we went to a few weeks ago, and I kept thinking, "Wait a minute, that's what you should be doing."

I was telling them they were worrying about the other horses too much. That's what I've been doing. I've been worried about what everybody else is doing and expectations and things didn't matter.

Once I saw that after I birdied 13, I saw that I think I had gotten tied and I said, "Alright, just try to birdie every hole and don't look again" and I really didn't look again until 16.

I caught a glimpse that I was two ahead, and just tried to obviously tried to birdie the last two holes but play them conservatively. I hit a little too much club at 17 and obviously played right in the middle of the green on 18.

I even asked my caddie on 18 green, "We definitely are two ahead, right?" And he said, I was and then just to double check he went and asked Chris's caddie just to make sure.

I really blocked it all out that I was leading and just trying to play every hole and birdie every hole.

Q Davis, did you know you were three down at one point at the tournament, I think?

DAVIS LOVE: Ever I knew that, you know, that it was going to take a low score to win. When I saw Hunter start off and I guess Troy was way under starting off and I said, "You know what? You're not going to shoot 2, 3 under and win this tournament." There were too many guys too close to the lead. Not look at the board and try to birdie every hole.

You know, that's how you win rather than just trying to figure out what it's going to take. Just go out there and try to shoot as low as you can.

Low round on Sunday when you're leading will always win. I figured 9 under to be that was going to be tough. That had to be the goal. Shoot the low round the day.

Q Davis, when you are a couple behind at the tournament and you haven't won in three years, is it hard not to get down on yourself and say, "Here we go again, another close call?"

DAVIS LOVE: Yes. Every time I thought about that I reminded myself just to play one shot at a time, one hole at a time and it's I spent as I said, I was out there a lot of time with Jack Lumpkin and Todd Anderson on my golf swing.

I spent a lot of time with Bob Rotella, especially this week talking about you're playing well, you just got to be committed to doing the things that are simple and straightforward that make you play well, and obviously thinking about being two ahead or three down or that you haven't won in a while or you want to go to Kapalaui or the Tour Championship, those thoughts don't do you any good while you're playing.

That why it's hard to win and to block out the negative thoughts, the expectations and if I would have been staring at that leaderboard and found out that I was three shots behind, I probably wouldn't have won and I was committed today to just playing my own game and keeping my head down and, you know, people say you should smile more, you should pump your fist more when you make putts.

I really through the middle of that round didn't know what was going on because I was trying to stay focused on what I was doing.

Q So you didn't peek at the board?

DAVIS LOVE: I never knew I was three down. I knew I was behind and then I knew I was ahead because you could tell by the crowd.

I looked at the board at 13 and I looked at the board the next time at 16 and knew that I was two ahead with two to go.

Q Davis, did you hear the fans saying, you know, he needs this, he needs this to win, just that you need a win? Do you hear that from a lot of fans?

DAVIS LOVE: Not really from the fans while you're playing. You hear it, you know, all the time. I heard it for six months: "You need to make the Ryder Cup team, the U.S. wants you on the team. You need another Top 10 here."

You hear all that stuff and, you know, your friends and your family in trying to help you, they get more and more nervous, you know, because they don't know well, is he playing bad, something we're doing or should we ask him why he's playing bad or ask him what we can to help?

When you're successful for a long time and you're not successful, people don't know how to act. I told my wife earlier this year, I said, "You know, nobody asks me any questions when I was playing great. They didn't ask me how I did it or why I did it or what are you doing to play so well." Just took it for granted, basically.

Then you start playing poorly, then you start getting the questions, what's the matter with you. Not that way, but, you know, what should you do different? Don't you think you ought to do this or that you get a lot of advice when you're not playing well.

It makes it hard. You hear things and, you know, people try to be positive but when they do that, they're actually reminding you of a negative and it really doesn't help and that's why I say, you know, Rotella and Jack Lumpkin have been such a big part of bringing me back because I'm working everyday on alignment, my feet and my set up.

Simple things just that I have to get back to basics and if I do the basic things well, I'll play well. I was in some bad habits physically and immediately tally.

Q Does doubt in the past three years enter your mind and you think maybe it's not mechanical, maybe it's a mental thing?

DAVIS LOVE: I've thought a lot. I've been dealing with this neck thing since 2001 and so I've been on kind of an up and down rollercoaster on the way. I felt sure, you think, you know, Jerry Pate or Johnny Miller or a lot of great players that their careers are cut short by an injury, and you think that, what if my back doesn't get better, what if my neck doesn't get better?

Lot of these guys that go out and have surgery like Scott Verplank, it has to creep in there because you have to be, you know, fit physically and mentally and you have to be a great player to win out here and that doubt certainly creeps in I don't doubt that I can play out here and stay exempt and make a nice living.

You doubt that you can beat a guy like Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods if you're not a hundred percent and I think your swing adjusts when you're not feeling well and then the doubt creeps in even more because you're not hitting the way you normally used to hit it.

And there's no reason at 42, you know, that I can't drive it as far as anybody else or putt as well as anybody else but when you're not feeling well, it certainly you feel like you're at a disadvantage when you go to the first tee with Tiger Woods and he's feeling great and you're not feeling good.

Q Not feeling good physically or

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, physically. You certainly feel like you're at a disadvantage and certainly when you hit a bad shot or you play bad the doubt does creep in there, that's expectations or results, thinking about results rather than just going out and playing.

I know if I'm 80 percent, I play as good as I can play, I can win and the problem is being committed to doing the things that make you play well.

The little things is what's been killing me like that sand wedge into No. 7. That's shots like that have been killing me.

There's no excuse for that. If I can hit a 3 iron six feet at the next hole I ought to be able to hit a sand wedge on the green.

Little things like that which are mental mistakes is what will kill you and what I've been doing is compounding them, you know. I could have gotten frustrated there, like I said before, and made it worse.

Q Were you making the Ryder Cup team so important that when something like that happened then you would say, "Here it goes again"?

DAVIS LOVE: Again, I'm going to blow some points.

You know, I made making that team such a big deal that it took over, you know, my golf life, you know? It became bigger than what it really was.

Whereas if I would have just said I don't care if I make it or not, I played 6 in a row, it's not a big deal.

But I was playing for the record, you know? I was playing for I want to make 7 so I can make 8 and rather than just playing the game and trying to be playing well when I got to the Ryder Cup I've never really been in that situation since all the way back to Dave Stockton's team where I was grinding it out then and didn't make it but I just made it too big a deal and, you know, again, it doesn't really matter what it is, winning or making the Ryder Cup team or a 900,000 dollar check or a free Chrysler car when you win the tournament, whatever it is you think about it gets you thinking about something other than playing the game is what kills you.

Q How are your back and neck this year?

DAVIS LOVE: You know, I've been up and down again this year but certainly, you know, five weeks of not playing tournament golf helps, obviously, and obviously not playing a Ryder Cup which takes a lot out of you certainly helps and you know, being fresh is good.

Came here five weeks off, brand new set of irons and a brand new golf ball. I just needed to start with a clean slate and I came in with a good attitude and excited and working hard and I worked hard on getting comfortable with my clubs, comfortable with my golf ball, with my swing and set up and I came in excited and ready to play rather than fearful that I was not going to play well and make the Ryder Cup team, that I needed to win. I came in with a purpose.

Q Over the years there have been golfers before the advent of the Champions Tour maybe along about this time start drifting away from the Tour in club pro jobs, et cetera.

If you stay competitive, is that something you aspire to play with your old buddies out there or will you go more toward your golf design company?

DAVIS LOVE: I don't want to leave my old buddies. You know, I want to play out here for a long time, you know? I want to stay healthy and continue to work hard and try to win golf tournaments out here.

I had a great talk with Walter "Uline" from Titleist Tuesday night. I spoke at a thing for them in Rhode Island, had a great talk with him.

Told him, I want to play on the PGA Tour like Fred Funk and like Jay Haas, play to win up into my 50s and then I'll make that decision.

I want to play my way out of being a Ryder Cup Captain. I want to be on the next three, four teams and, you know, when I was coming out on Tour I watched Jack Nicklaus win the Masters at 46. That's the way I'm thinking, you know, that I can stay competitive and, you know, when I get to my 50s hopefully I'm sitting around like Fred Funk trying to decide which Tour I want to play. That would be the best case scenario.

Q Davis, you talk about how you just want to win, period, but now that you have won here, is that one a little bit more special?

DAVIS LOVE: Definitely special. When I sit back and think about it, you know, how many times I've come close to winning, how many times I've had, you know, good Saturdays and bad Sundays or bad Saturdays and good Sundays and just was one round away from winning a golf tournament and what it does mean to win out here.

I was rolling right along looking like I was going for 30 Tour wins and hit a dry patch that is going to keep me from getting, probably getting to 30 but if I can, you know, continue working hard and continue the passion I have for it, hopefully I can still get there but this one will definitely be one I always remember.

Like I say at Hilton Head where I one won there a bunch. Everyone is different no matter if it's the same golf course, the same town. Everyone is different and everyone means something and this was one that I conquered, you know, more inner demons than anything, great players that shot some good scores but, you know, when there's tournaments when you're leading and you're supposed to win and you're the top ranked player going in and those are the ones that Tiger Woods wins, you know, when he's got the lead and he's supposed to win, he goes on and wins.

That's the difference I think between a top player and the rest of the golf world. So it's nice to have those kind of rounds every once in a while.

TODD BUDNICK: Alright. Davis, walk us through your round today. Start with the birdies on 1 and 2.

DAVIS LOVE: 1, I hit 5 wood off the tee and a sand wedge to about 12 feet.

Then a driver and a 3 iron to the right of the green down in the little dip and hit a nice pitch up there about 15 feet. Again, made that.

7, the bogey talking about buried. A sand wedge in the bunker and tried a cute shot and didn't get it quite on the green. Chipped it by about five feet and made it.

Then 3 iron to about 8 feet at 8. And then 10, driver and a pitching wedge to the back fringe and made a nice, long, I don't know 40, 50 footer.

13, 3 wood off the tee, 5 wood to the front fringe and a nice 2 putt up the false front that Chris Couch was giving me a hard time on about the false fronts. I told him they were my brother's idea. He didn't believe it.

Then on 14, very nice drive and 7 iron to about I don't know, 10, 12 feet.

15, I drive and a 3 wood to the back of the green and another nice 2 putt.

TODD BUDNICK: Anything else for Davis?

Q Davis, there's certainly speculation, some of the Board of Directors for the Foundation here have said that they have been approached by other courses in the Triad to host this tournament down the line.

Your thoughts on that on it leaving here?

DAVIS LOVE: Chrysler has been a great sponsor and we hate to see them go, although we'll be back with them in three weeks in Tampa, and then obviously the Bob Hope.

We hate to see them go. You know, I've been on the Board off and on my whole career. I know that wherever the sponsor wants to go and the charity dollars are most beneficial, that's where we'll end up.

You know, lot of history in this tournament and it's moved around and obviously this golf course has changed a couple times.

But, obviously, I wouldn't want to see it go. I've played all my GGOs, if I can say that, here, so I'd hate to see it go but I've learned enough from the Board that sometimes change is inevitable.

So, as long as we stay in Greensboro and the tournament continues to grow, the dollars for charity, that's the object.

Q Jason Bohn wants to stay here but you can figure that out. He likes the course and played well.

DAVIS LOVE: What's that?

Q Jason Bohn? He said he wanted to stay here.

DAVIS LOVE: We would we like to stay where we're comfortable. After two wins here I want to stay but, you know, sometimes you have to do it but hopefully, you know, with the new sponsor, creates knew excitement.

Obviously it's going to be right in the middle of the FedExCup chase so it's going to be an exciting tournament.

So, you know, bigger isn't always better but if it's better for charity, better for the fans, then that's what we'll do.

Q Davis, how do you think that's going to play out, this tournament after the PGA and right before the playoff? It sounds good but

DAVIS LOVE: I have a busy stretch, don't I?

Q Got to take off sometime.

DAVIS LOVE: I looked at the Chrysler sign walking up, flashed 2007 Wyndham Championship and I went, "Oh, boy, that's 7 in a row right there." No, I think it's going to be exciting.

You know, y'all follow NASCAR. I follow it and follow it more and more every year. This chase the last three years has just been incredible. That's all they talk about for the last what, ten weeks and they talk about the Top 10, they talk about Tony Stewart wasn't in the top then. He wins a race.

I think it's going to be great for the Tour overall. It's going to be great for the last six, eight weeks and Greensboro is going to fit in there somehow but we don't really know how it's going to work because do you want to move up if you're 10th in points, do you want to take a chance on winning and maybe moving up and getting seeded higher?

I really don't know. I think you're going to get if I had to say, you're going to get basically the same field you've always gotten. There's going to be guys that have to take sometime off that maybe are leading and there's going to be guys that are 50th in that group that don't really you know, they need a break, too, but I think there's going to be a lot of guys that to have to play to improve their position, whether it's to get in the Masters or to get in, you know, Tour Championship because they don't want to fall they feel like they can move up.

So when they get to those last four they got a better chance to hold their position. I don't know.

I started in my physical training thinking that I'm going to play two big stretches next year, where there's five, six early and then six or seven late.

I'm going to get most of my tournaments in two big stretches but I'm going to get used to doing that because you want to be ready if you have to play the PGA Tour, I want to be ready.

I think we're going to have to do it once. It's hard to predict, very hard to predict. I think as good a field if not better I think would be when we looked at it.

When I said Greensboro could go in the fall and then they fell right there I said, "It's a home run." Much better than being in the fall and just the attention, you know, even if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are here, just the attention that the start of the chase is going to bring, it's going to be good for the tournament.

TODD BUDNICK: One more question.

Q It will be like Richmond in the last race.

DAVIS LOVE: It could affect it. That's why I think you never know if a guy is going to go if I go home what's going to happen, you know? Might be scared, guy 20th to go home.

TODD BUDNICK: Last question.

Q Two quick ones. You'll be back here next year?

DAVIS LOVE: Yes. I said that two years ago. I ended up withdrawing. Yes.

Q People looked at this as Greensboro in 2007 as kind of a resting point for a lot of guys. Were you looking at that as a resting point?

DAVIS LOVE: I looked at it when the schedule came out as I was probably going to have to play 7 in a row to finish the year. I'm planning on that.

I'm going to take a shot at five or six early in the year somewhere to try to see how that plays out but, you know, physically, mentally, preparing myself for a long stretch at the end of the year and, you know, that's going to mean some creative time management, those weeks, you know.

If you said, "Alright, you've got to play Vegas on through the Tour Championship", I would I wouldn't do much on Mondays, you know.

Obviously, I'm not going to schedule any outings in that five, six weeks, you know? I'm going to be play the tournament, take some time off, get a little more organized with your up time and your down time, but I planned on all along that it was going to be I was going to be five to seven in a row then.

TODD BUDNICK: Congratulations, Davis.

DAVIS LOVE: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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