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August 22, 2002

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: Davis Love III, 5-under 66 today.

Davis, we'll go through the birdies first. You started on No. 3?

DAVIS LOVE: Third hole, I hit 3-wood off the tee and a 7-iron to about 20 feet. Made it for birdie.

Then 6, I drove it in the left rough behind, to the left of that big tree, hacked it out short of the green in the rough, chipped it over the green and it was 30 feet from the hole; chipped it up there close and tapped in for bogey.

Then a driver and a pitching wedge that hit up on the green and spun back and made a nice big break about a 30- or 40-footer.

10, 1-iron off the tee and an 8-iron to about 25, 30 feet, made that, left of the hole.

11, drove it again left in the trees, chipped out, hit a 3-wood right of the green, probably 40 yards from the hole. Chipped up about 25 feet short and missed that. So I made bogey.

And then a driver and a 9-iron to about six feet.

Then a 7-iron to about 30 feet left of the hole.

15, a driver and a sand wedge from 100 yards to about six feet.

18, a driver and a 3-iron to about 25 feet and 2-putted.

I made a couple of good saves. One out of the bunker at the first par 3, No. 5.

And then 16, I hit a 9-iron. Didn't catch it real solid and spun way back down the fairway and pitched it up there about 20 feet and made it for par.

So I putted real well and hit it good. Except for about four shots, I hit it real good.

You know, with these tricky pin placements, if you don't hit it in the right place, you don't really have a good birdie putt, so I hit a lot of shots in the right place where I could putt at it, and I putted very, very well.

Q. How similar or different does this place seem to you than it did in '98, from what you remember?

DAVIS LOVE: Well, it seems a little easier. I know the rough is not near as bad, and it's nice to play 18 as a par 5. It fits the drives -- actually, I think it's easier to get it in the fairway. Before, we were kind of hitting it over the corner to off-center and it was a tough, tough hole.

But the greens are just excellent. And the rough is not quite as bad, and there's no wind, so it played a little easier, I think, than the PGA. But it's still a good golf course, just not quite as tweaked. It's in great shape. The fairways are perfect and the greens are about as good as you can get.

Q. Is it a little softer this time?

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, it's softer. You know, not pushed to the extreme that they do in the PGA; which means the greens are generally better when they don't stress them out. They can firm up a little bit.

You know, it was damp this morning for a long time, and they firmed up and sped up as the day went on. Playing this early, we're not going to get the late afternoon firmness, so it probably won't be quite as firm during the PGA, either, just for that reason.

Q. Talk about the international flavor or this, with the top of the leaderboard, you and Izawa. What do you know about him?

DAVIS LOVE: I played with him last week. I played with him maybe one other time.

He's a great player. He hits it a long way. He's a good, solid player. Obviously, pretty much anybody in this field is a good, solid player. He's just one in the next wave of foreign players, Far East players, that are coming over here with a lot more confidence than they used to, and a lot more experience, and playing very well, like Maruyama that I played with today. They are all gaining confidence that they can do it, and with him winning and a lot of them having success.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, he's very fun to play with. He's a good guy and a funny guy, and always has a good attitude. Even when he was making a double-bogey, he still was smiling about it and carried on without getting mad. So he's a pleasure to play with.

Q. How long have you carried a 1-iron?

DAVIS LOVE: Well, I'm either carrying a 1-iron or a 4-wood. And probably just in the last couple of years I have used a 4-wood or one of those utility 1-irons, but I'm back to just a regular old blade 1-iron now.

Q. So what went out? The 4-wood?

DAVIS LOVE: The 4-wood, yeah.

Q. Take us through that.

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, a lot of shots off the tee. A 4-wood rather than a 1-iron or a 5-wood rather than the next long iron, is to get it up in the air a little easier, but you tend to curve it more with them, at least I do. Most people do, because it has so much loft, and you don't want it curving around this course. You want to hit it as low and straight as many times as you can off the tee.

I've just been wearing that 1-iron out. It's a great club to hit 240, 250 off the tee, like Tiger's 3-iron or 2-iron he hits. Just get it down there safe and not rattle it off the trees.

Q. You've had success before, obviously at Hilton Head. Playing the week after a major, is there any type of mental letdown? And how do you guard against that?

DAVIS LOVE: Well, for me, I'm always excited to get to the majors and to play, and I'm still kind of up a little bit afterwards. I went and practiced for two days down at Titleist in Carlsbad just because I wanted to keep the preparation, the excitement going.

I think it spills over for a lot of guys. You see it quite a bit, that guys play better the week after than maybe the week of the major; like Justin is playing good again today. A lot of the guys that played good last week, or close to playing good last week, are getting going. Goosen is playing good. I think you're just ready to play.

It is a little bit of like, "Oh, man, we've got seven or eight months until the Masters," but there is that, "Hey, I've been getting ready for the PGA for a couple of weeks, so might as well keep it going."

Q. Do you think you're going to need a 5-, or 6-under every day to win this thing?

DAVIS LOVE: I sure hope not. This is a pretty hard golf course for that.

But with conditions like today, scores are going to be low. It was perfect scoring conditions. Like yesterday, I played with Brad Faxon and he made ten birdies. You know, PGA practice rounds, we were hoping to make two or three birdies, you know. (Laughing).

It showed us that there were some good scores out there. But I think as the week goes on, it will get tougher and it will firm up and the competition will get tougher. I don't think it will be 20-under, no, but it's going to be a pretty good score.

Q. Is the clubhouse nicer since you've been here?

DAVIS LOVE: No, it's very nice. I don't remember exactly what it was before, but it's very, very nice. They did a good job with the locker rooms. I haven't been up stairs, but just from looking in like from the putting green, it looks pretty nice up there, too. It's beautiful from the outside.

It was kind of -- you almost didn't even notice the clubhouse before, and I think now it kind of makes a statement and it's very pretty.

Q. Did you do Valderrama both years or just the one?

DAVIS LOVE: Just once.

Q. All of them are coming here next year, all of the World Golf Championships. Is it getting to be that the purses are so good here that you might not need to go next time, an American Express or whatever goes to Spain or goes to Ireland, or do you think you owe it to go? Not you specifically, but some of the Americans.

DAVIS LOVE: Well, I think they have proven that the purses are so good over here that if they take it to Australia or Spain, somewhere where guys don't want to go, that there are going to be guys that don't golf, so I doubt they are going to do it a whole lot anymore.

It's obviously proven that guys from overseas will come here to play, so the sponsors are going to dictate -- I know American Express wasn't real thrilled, or any of them wouldn't be thrilled. So we hope that they are closer. They are talking about Mexico and Canada and not going too far away from the U.S., because, you know, that's where more of the majority of players live. That's where the majority of the sponsors come from.

Q. That's where the money is?

DAVIS LOVE: Well, it's where the sponsors come from.

Now, obviously, American Express is a worldwide company, but as far as corporate entertaining and feeling like they are part of it, I'm sure that if they have a successful event in the U.S. versus missing a few guys -- and you know the only ones they are going to miss are going to be top players, so they don't want to take a chance on that.

But, you know, if it's a good golf course and in a places that I like to go, I would definitely go. It's well worth it. I mean, if they had the Wachovia tournament that they are having at Charlotte, if they had it in Mexico City, we'd probably go because it's a big purse and play a good golf course; we'd probably go.

Q. If they went to a great place in Europe that you really liked the course and they took The Match Play form at there, would you go?

DAVIS LOVE: Oh, yeah.

Q. Even if it was late in the year, not over Christmas --

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, if it was mid-November.

Q. So you wouldn't be opposed to going for a tournament where you could come home quickly; you face that possible possibility?

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, it's harder with The Match Play, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. Australia was a little far.

The reason why I don't play in Australia or the Far East or as much in Europe is just because of the travel. In the middle of the year or end of the year, I don't want to be traveling that much with a bad back, like Freddie; it's just hard to go that many times.

Somebody told me I needed to play moreover seas and I said, "Well, I'm playing the British Open, I'm playing in Ireland and then I'm playing at The Belfry." That's three times overseas to me, three different events, and that's probably enough.

You know, if I get in Mercedes, that's overseas, and Sony, just to start the year off, if you're coming from Georgia, it's easier to go to Scotland than it is to go to Hawaii. (Laughter.) There's a lot of traveling.

The more you're home, I mean, going places like here, great golf course that we've only seen once in a city that we've only been to a few times, it's great to play it up here. This is like new territory for us.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Davis.

End of FastScripts....

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