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December 13, 2006

Davis Love III


DAVE SENKO: Davis, thanks for joining us, and as we did before, maybe you could just get us started by maybe looking back on your year and looking ahead to 2007 and we'll get some questions.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm excited about the way I finished the year, now excited about starting the year in Hawaii, the first two, which is just around the corner seems like.
I'm excited to be here, glad that the Foundation and Tiger invited me back, so I'm looking forward to this week and hopefully it'll get me jump-started for the start of the year.

Q. This tournament has actually turned golfers forward to the next year. I think you and I want to say in '05 and Lehman and even Luke last year. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think so. I think it shows guys are playing more in the winter and then you get some confidence playing well in a tournament like this. It certainly gets you going when it's right around the corner to the start of the year. Any time you win a tournament, it gives you confidence. Any time you win against a good field like this and on a hard golf course, you certainly feel like you're playing well, and it gives you a boost. I think momentum is a great thing. Certainly a couple times winning here got me going to start the next year.

Q. If you would talk a little bit about Phil and what happened at U.S. Open, and how much does that weigh on a player from your point of view?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, when you're obviously -- like I did the last couple years, when you're not successful, whether it's Thursday or Sunday, you continue to not play well, it wears you down a little bit. You start losing confidence and losing momentum. Certainly I think Phil is a little bit different situation. He had a lot of chances in the majors, and he played awfully well. He didn't play well all that day, you know, and I think he didn't ever really give himself a chance. He fought hard to stay in it. When you look at it from a player's perspective, he probably thinks he was lucky to have a chance coming down the stretch the way he was driving it.
I know the year before when he won the PGA, I missed so many fairways that there was no way I could beat him. That's just the way it goes sometimes. I think he's in a pretty good place confidence-wise right now. Just about every week he seems like he's ready to go.

Q. So it's not like this is going to have any lasting effects?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, he hasn't played for so long, but that never seemed to bother him, either. I saw him Monday in Mexico, and he looked in good shape and looked like he was ready to go whenever he decided to start.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: There was a rumor of an In-and-Out Burger down there and a Krispy Kreme, but he came to check it out. No, we were working on a golf course project that we're both working on down there.
I've got one under construction and he's going to do the second course with our -- we're going to be the construction company, so we've got a big project going down there, part of a private club, which is very exciting down there. It's in Cabo. We're in the big sand dunes just north of -- well, it'll be just over the hill from town, over the mountains. Ireland with good weather.

Q. From the time you joined the TOUR a few years ago until right now, there have been obviously a ton of Australians and Europeans on the U.S. Tour. How does a guy from your stature and you might say years on the Tour look at it? Is it anything bad or is it good? I don't know if it affects our Ryder Cup performance at all. But I was just talking to Geoff Ogilvy, and the Aussies seemed to have a very good year in the U.S.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, they're getting better and better. I said if you want to make the Ryder Cup where the U.S. wins, we play them one country at a time but wait to play Australia last because they're awfully good. They've got a lot of good players. You know, certainly Greg Norman was a big influence on that.
But you know, the TOUR decided really right after I came out, we don't want to restrict the foreign players from coming here. We want them to play here. We want the best players in the world to play our Tour. We've certainly promoted that and done a good job of that.
But anybody who wants to play baseball, they come to the U.S. to play baseball. You want to play professional football, you come to the U.S. to play professional football. Obviously in golf, it's a different game; we get more people. Hockey is another good example. The NBA now is a worldwide league in a worldwide sport.
Certainly this is where the TV money is and this is where the big game is, so certainly it's understandable. It used to be it wasn't worth it to move your family from Europe or from South America or Australia to the U.S. to play because there really wasn't that much money and opportunity. Now there's tons of money and opportunity, plus it's cool to play golf, so that's bringing more and more good athletes into it.
I don't see it stopping. I don't think they affect the Ryder Cup, except the points. They take five spots out of the Top 10 every week, and guys don't get points. That's where I think next year's points for American players, you might not even give points because Geoff Ogilvy wins the U.S. Open and Ernie Els finishes second and Sergio Garcia finishes third you might as well not give any points because it doesn't do that much good.
I'm glad the PGA is willing to tweak their system, but we've got to look at it more because there are more and more -- it's not the Top 10 is always Americans, and the points are kind of getting harder and harder to get.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: No, I don't see any jealousy. I heard one steady very good foreign player getting interviewed at the Match Play this year saying that the Tour ought to do this and the Tour ought to do that and makes it hard on the foreign players and this and this and this, and it wasn't really a complaint, it was just answering question, and in the end the journalist said, "So how's everything is Scottsdale?" I'm like, that pretty much sums up the whole interview. He lives in the United States and plays our Tour, just like a Steve Elkington or Greg Norman or Nick Price or right on down the list.
When I look at Nick Price, he's a guy that's lived here my whole career on Tour and Bernhard Langer and right on down the list. They still go play at home, but no -- at least for me there's no jealousy. I'm not willing to move over to Europe and play. You know, I don't want to have to do that. I think it's a big effort, and they ought to get a lot of credit because it's harder for them to be successful moving over here than it is for us.

Q. I wanted to follow up on that Phil thing, the Phil sighting. None of us have seen him for a while. I'm remembering I want to say it was '98 or '99 when David Duval came out and I think it was a tournament down in Arizona and he had basically reshaped his body and everyone looked at him and went, "wow, what a change." Are we going to see a markedly different looking Phil Mickelson when he shows up? I guess it's going to be at the Bob Hope in January.
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, he's got a long time between now and then.

Q. So he's not there yet?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, he looks good. I thought that he looked like -- I've seen him a lot in the gym this year, and I think it's a shock to everybody to see Davis and Phil in the gym. But he certainly looks good. He doesn't look like he's been sitting around for sure. He looks like he's been working.

Q. You talked about confidence at the beginning. What did Greensboro do for you and what do you think would have happened given your year and frankly given your age had you gone through this year without anything to point at?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'd have -- I've been scrambling to get in the TOUR Championship and I would have come here trying to get something going for next year rather than being in Mercedes and Hawaii. I'm excited about the start of the year, but I think it was a big boost. It was a long time coming.
Certainly getting healthy helped and getting the Ryder Cup behind us helped, and I learned a big lesson from that. So now I'm excited about going back out and playing.
It's a big difference than the feeling of, you know, at the PGA, struggling to get the ball in the hole to having some confidence and going out and playing. But I played with confidence that week. I took a long stretch off and kind of got my head back in the game and started just playing golf.
I think it meant a lot, and as I told Tom Lehman, it was coming, it just took longer than it should have.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: That I was playing for a record rather than playing for -- to win golf tournaments. I was trying to make the Ryder Cup team to keep my streak alive. You know, I'm not going out to hit the drives in a crucial situation, I was trying to keep the consecutive streak going, and that doesn't really help the team. I wasn't playing for what I should have been playing for. It's the temptation. It doesn't matter if it's thinking about your stroke or trying to make the cut or trying to make the TOUR Championship or whatever, it's results, and I fell into the trap of playing for Ryder Cup points rather than just playing to win and letting them come.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: No, but it's typical of a golfer. You know, you always fall back into aiming to the right no matter how many times somebody tells you to aim to the left. It just feels good to aim to the right. You know, doing the little things is what's hard, being consistent. That's why the Jack Nicklauses and the Tiger Woodses are so impressive, they do the little things better than everyone else, and it's the mental day-to-day things that you have to do to be consistently successful. It's easy while you've got it going good, and then you just relax and it goes back to the other way really quick.

Q. Can you talk about your feelings on the recent change in the FedEx Cup Playoff format and perhaps the role that the policy board played in that change?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we've played a big role for the last two years in all of it, but we had a lot of input from the tournaments. When it was getting down to the last little details -- it's taken everybody a long time to catch up with what we've been looking at for two years. We had to keep it quiet for almost a year and a half.
So we've been behind the scenes working on this and playing with the models and all that, so we kind of knew 90 percent where we had it, so we started throwing it out to the players and you guys started getting a hold of it. Everybody started getting ideas, and the tournament has finally figured out how it affects the Memorial, how it affects Memphis, how it affects Canadian Open. Then everybody starts throwing their opinions in, and then you announce the schedule. Everything is going along, and when you come down to the last month before you have to finalize everything, you get a lot of opinions.
So I think the process went very, very well. It came out exactly where I think the player directors, the majority of the staff wanted it a year ago. But we had a lot of discussion that led us in a whole bunch of different directions. Unfortunately it gets out in the public where it really doesn't -- it confuses people a little bit. I think we let it get confusing to people.
I think we did a great job. It's exciting. The great thing is we've been talking about this for a long time and it's going to be something new and different, and hopefully we'll have a better situation at the end of the year than we did this year.
We'll have an exciting finish with the majority of the players playing four tournaments in a row. I haven't heard since the last board meeting, I really haven't heard anything but positive from players and tournaments.

Q. Just going back to the Ryder Cup for a moment, where did you actually watch the Matches?

Q. You didn't watch them?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was at a horse show watching my daughter. I didn't have much chance to watch it.

Q. Because you're fairly friendly with Darren Clarke, you didn't see anything of his performance?
DAVIS LOVE III: I saw a few highlights of Darren, but unfortunately when we got up in the morning we already knew we were behind, and it kind of took the fun out of going and watching it. If we would have been winning when I got up and looked at my Blackberry and we would have been ahead, I'd have probably watched some of it. But being behind, it was kind of -- not being there and then being behind, it was kind of depressing.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. I'm a good armchair quarterback. My daughter was getting concerned. I didn't know she cared about football that much.

Q. You can't go to Alabama and not care about football.
DAVIS LOVE III: She texted me right when we were talking about it. That's got to be a hard place to be a football coach.

Q. Except for Tiger, only Larry Mize has won Augusta in his 20s. Any explanation for that?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't have one. Experience is really good there, but other than that, I don't know. Tiger had a lot of experience in his 20s. He played from a very young age. I think experience would be the only answer I would have.

Q. Different than other majors in terms of players in their 20s?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think it's -- you know, it's not a typical golf course. It's a place you have to get comfortable with and you have to have obviously an incredibly good short game no matter what, but you have to learn your way around there a little bit, and I think certainly Tiger had enough experience at a young age and obviously the power to go with it.

Q. I'm not going to ask you if you think Tiger would be a good golf course designer because I'm going to assume that your answer would be yes, but what I am interested in is what kinds of characteristics do you think we will see on the golf courses that he designs?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. That's a good question. I'm real interested to see what kind -- the course that Phil did in Scottsdale got really good reviews, Whisper Rock. I'm interested because I'm the contractor basically for the developer to build his course, so it's going to be a lot of fun. I get to kind of sit back and -- we're going to do a land plan for him and we're going to do kind of here's where you can go, what do you want to do. We're not going to design it for him. He and his partner and architect -- it's going to be fun to see.
We almost had one of the deals with Tiger, too. It's going to be interesting to see where Tiger goes and what he likes. I think when I build a course, when Phil builds a course -- we built a course for Fred, it's interesting to see what players -- we see what Jack likes and we see what Arnie likes and what Weiskopf likes, so it's going to be interesting to see what actually it is Tiger likes and see if some of these tournaments get him to build them a golf course like that and see who will come play it.
My wife and I went to the Phillips Art Gallery in Washington and we walked around, and I keep using this analogy, and we all can go to an art gallery and we're all going to like something different, but if it's a classic, it's a classic no matter what. I might like Ross and Raynor, someone else might like Tillinghast. That doesn't make any of them wrong. If you don't like Jack's courses or Arnie's courses or Pete Dye's courses, it doesn't make them wrong.
It's going to be interesting to see what Tiger likes and what Phil likes, and we know what Crenshaw likes. I followed him around like a puppy dog. I want to learn what he's figured out because he's got it figured out. We'll basically see what those guys do.
The opportunity for us is they're looking for market. Phil Mickelson is going to be a huge name, Tiger Woods is going to be a huge name wherever he goes. I think that gives a guy like Jack Nicklaus an opportunity to go out and be creative. Obviously Jack and Arnie have been very successful. Their courses don't look anything alike.

Q. On the subject of architecture, right now a lot of TPC golf courses are being renovated and changed. Do you think this is a product of changes in the game or perhaps a statement about the quality of the architecture that a lot of these TPCs have had and is it a new direction for the Tour?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's obvious that some of them weren't successful financially and we're trying to sell them. And some of them weren't popular with the players like Boston. I talked to Brad Faxon about Boston a couple nights ago, and they're just beside themselves how nice it is.
Unfortunately you get a little aggressive and you just let a guy go and you don't get what you want, just like building a house. Sometimes you build a house and the kitchen doesn't work and you've got to fix it. Boston just didn't work for the tournament, and they're making it very, very nice.
TPC Jacksonville, it was just like the stuff that Augusta does all the time; we finally went and did it. We got excellent drainage, we got sub-air systems under the greens. We can play if there's a flood. We can play. And then redid the mounds. But there are a lot of courses built with the stadium concept that it hurt the architecture trying to build the stadium concept, so we learned. We're evolving. I think David Pillsbury is doing a great job of while we need to rebuild a 20-year old set of greens, let's fix the rest of it and make it work.
I mean, Scottsdale and Jacksonville have made the Tour a lot of money, the players a lot of money. We've just got to get the rest of them to where they carry their weight. We've got a lot of good golf courses but we don't have a lot of great golf courses, and that's where we're trying to get. Our level of service, running clubs, every facet of our business except for our architecture is at the top of its class, so we're just trying to update that.

Q. What are the things about the FedEx Cup that you think is going to make it work and take off to another level?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think just continuity throughout the year, something that people can really understand, that we actually are playing for a prize rather than Tiger winning the Money Title by $2 million or Vijay winning the Money Title by $2 million. It's kind of boring at the end of the year. I'll give you an example: Today if the Dallas Cowboys win every regular season game and say, hey, we won them all, we're not playing the playoffs, everybody would be like, wait a minute. It's like Tiger and Phil feeling like the TOUR Championship at the end of the year doesn't mean that much because they've already won their majors and their tournaments and their Money Title or their scoring title and they don't have to play because it really doesn't cap off their season if they win. There's nothing riding on it.
So we figured out a way to make it where the last four weeks there's a lot riding on it. You know, if you're 60th on the Money List with four weeks to go, you can win the FedEx Cup or you can get sent home in two weeks.
You know, that's the interesting part about it. You can win $10 million or you can have two weeks off. You miss the first two cuts and you're done for the year. I think it adds a little excitement and a lot more pressure.
I've heard some players say, well, I'm going to play three of the four no matter what. Well, you might not be able to win. You've got a lot of tournaments to play at the end of the year, but so do the NFL players or the NBA players. If you win the NBA Championship, you've played a lot of basketball the last month. Or if you win the Super Bowl you've played a lot of football that other guys didn't play.
I think with the "chase for your card" season, it gives you a chance to relax. If you want to play a couple times, fine. If you need to play for your card, it gives you a lot of great opportunities and people get to still watch golf and have golf on TV, but it won't be tournaments struggling to see if they can get Tiger to show up in October or Phil to show up in October.

Q. It's going to add some entertainment value and some interest, et cetera, et cetera, but when you look at how you're going to measure yourself by it, what does winning the FedEx Cup mean and how does that differ from winning the Money List because we're still talking about a season-long effort?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's different just because it resets and then you have to play the last four. You can't get ahead. You can't just coast the last two or three and win because you had a big lead. It makes the whole season more important rather than just winning four or five tournaments, and it gives you an exciting finish rather than a boring finish is the big thing.
It's just another prize. Like Tim says about THE PLAYERS Championship, if the players say it's not important, then it won't be. But I think because of the way it finishes, because of the prize, because of everybody wanting to be No. 1, it really is -- the best thing about cutting it every week is guys don't feel like, well, I'm 100, I've got to play every week and I don't have a chance, and that's a lot to ask of a guy. Well, you don't have to play the.
Last one or the last two. A lot of guys don't get to play the fourth week anyway; there's only 30. I think it's exciting. We've got to do it, though.
It's like NASCAR. I hated the idea of NASCAR changing what I was used to watching since I was 10 or 12 years old. I hated the idea of it. And then I hated it even when guys got left out that I wanted in the Top 10. But the more I watch it, now I like it. I wish they'd tweak it a little bit, sure, but I wish they'd tweak the baseball playoffs, too. I still love watching it.

Q. How often do you think the FedEx Cup champion will be Player of the Year?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, 50/50 maybe. I think Player of the Year is still -- you don't have to win the money title to get Player of the Year. They handed me a sheet of Tiger's accomplishments, Golf Channel, and they said what's the best one. Four majors in a row. If you win all four majors, you're playing of the year, no matter what happens with the FedEx Cup. You win THE PLAYERS Championship and the U.S. Open and a World Golf Championship and Atlanta, you're probably going to be Player of the Year. The guy that wins the FedEx Cup, he won the -- you can still win the batting title or the Cy Young and not win the World Series. It's another level.
Sure, the money title is going to be hidden, but it's still going to be there. Player of the Year is still going to be voted on by your peers.
I think we're pretty smart. We can factor in, well, just because Zach Johnson won two of the last four and he won the FedEx Cup but he didn't win a major, Tiger won two and two World Golf Championships and three other tournaments, he's Player of the Year.

End of FastScripts…

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