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January 10, 2007

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: We thank Davis Love III for stopping in at the 2007 Sony Open in Hawaii, Davis coming off a great start for the year, T-4 last week at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. First talk about the good start to the year.
DAVIS LOVE III: It was a good start. It was obviously windy and tough conditions. Played a lot of good golf and excited about getting some FedExCup points and getting off to a good start and get used to saying that rather than good start on the Money List.
You know, looking forward to this week. Hopefully the wind will stay just like today, nice and calm.
TODD BUDNICK: Like to talk about what you did over your off-season and goals for 2007.
DAVIS LOVE III: I actually spent a lot of time practising right up until Christmastime and then had two weeks completely off. And then you know, feel like I'm in good shape and been working on my swing.
It's hard over here, not good driving ranges and wind conditions to hit a lot of balls. But I felt like my swing was where I wanted it and I'm going in the right direction physically, feeling well and excited about the year.
So a little more off-season work the next couple of weeks after this and be ready for the California and Phoenix swing.

Q. What are you missing early on like through Tucson?
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm missing Hope, San Diego and L.A.

Q. San Diego, because?
DAVIS LOVE III: Just timing.

Q. Just timing.

Q. You feel like you know it well enough, as the Open gets ready to go there next year?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I'll probably next year -- played it last year and probably play it next year.
It's a long, hard golf course. You don't want to do that, you know, every week. There's a couple of them, Pebble; those two, play both of them can kind of beat you up, and L.A.

Q. What have you figured out then, because you're doing two, off the top of my head it looks like two off, and then two more?
DAVIS LOVE III: And then a week off and then two more. I'll play the Match Play and Honda.

Q. Is two your limit?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, just trying to pace myself in the beginning. I know there's going to be a stretch probably in the spring that I'll play five, and then obviously the end of the year that will be a big stretch.
You know, I'm just seeing what it's going to feel like playing three or four or five in a row a couple of times and see what it feels like and get ready and see what I'm going to be able to do at the end of the year. You know, we keep saying we're going to play five or seven or some big number like that, but just have to wait and see if you can do it. And you hope you can. I mean, obviously if you're 144th on the Money List with four to go, you hope you get to play four in a row.
You're going to have to see where you stand and see what the good strategy is when you get there. It would be hard for me to say, I'm No. 1, I'm going to skip Greensboro, being defending champion. But there's going to be guys making decisions like that down to the last three or four weeks of the year.

Q. Do you see that happening where you could be skipping Greensboro?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think so. I've won there twice and they have been good to me and a new venue.
But I've also said I was going to play it every year and I skipped it one year after Presidents Cup, I wasn't feeling very well. You know, as long as I'm feeling well, I'll be there.

Q. What do you think is the most difficult part of this stretch that you talk about, is it a mental or physical approach, and have you thought about a strategy at all going through that, even though you haven't done it yet?
DAVIS LOVE III: You know, not to schedule any Monday outings that you have to travel to, and you figure you're going to have some days off, and some Monday, Tuesdays where you just pack it in and don't play, take it easy. I'll obviously plan on having my trainer out a few times in that stretch just to make sure I'm on the right track.
So you do some little things, but I think more importantly is you not burn yourself out before you get to the big stretches. You know, just like you don't play four weeks before you go play The Masters. You've got to take a week off in there and be mentally and physically ready. I think the same thing will apply at the end of the year. You just have to be mentally and physically ready and not burned out.

Q. Do you find yourself this week looking at either bags or badges to see who these guys are?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I thought yesterday that we ought to make the names bigger across the badges for the players (laughter) so when you see them coming -- I've got good eyes, but see, if ours were as big at yours --

Q. Ours are disguised with the sunset colour. This seems like a larger number than usual of people you don't know.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, a lot of new guys, and a big crop of them, a big class. I'm introducing myself to some guys that I should probably already know but at least I'm jumping in there and trying to meet them.
And this week, you know, usually this week, the Hope and Pebble Beach, you see a lot of guys that you don't know because that's where they generally get in starting off.

Q. Did you ever have that problem as a rookie or were you known well enough through either your dad or just your being out there?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was lucky enough to know a lot of the -- more veteran players because I had met them with my dad or through my dad. But I didn't know -- you know, I knew Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw, but I didn't know the rest of the Tour. So I had the same -- I was lucky that I knew some guys and I could come out and play practice rounds with and talk to and ask questions of. But no, I was just like every other rookie, I didn't know hardly anybody.

Q. Is it intimidating?
DAVIS LOVE III: It is. It's intimidating, and when you plop your bag down beside a player that you've seen on TV and you don't know, should you say something, should you introduce yourself or should you wait for them to talk. I think once guys do it a few times and realise that we're nervous, too, because we don't know them and we're not real sure if we've seen them before or if we should know them, or if they played at the University of North Carolina and we don't remember.
So I think once guys realize that, hey, we're in the same boat, we're trying to meet people, especially the beginning of the year, that they relax a little bit.

Q. Did you ever have an awkward moment?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've had them quite a few times, guys that I introduce myself to, and say, "Hey, I played with you last year." (Laughter) things like that; players that played at North Carolina that I don't remember. (Laughter) But yeah, it happens.
It's hard, like I'll meet four guys and four caddies today that when I'm here next year, they will expect that I remember them. And it's just hard to remember so many faces, so many people and, you know, different tournaments. It's hard, but I generally do it once a week.

Q. Do you think it's harder now than when you came out in '85, '86, if you have a young person that everyone knows about, for that person to break through? Everyone knew about you and you get up there quickly; we've seen a lot of kids that have good pedigree but you don't hear from them.
DAVIS LOVE III: It's definitely harder. There are a lot of great, young players that we've seen a lot of them recently that you leave school early or come out highly touted and don't play well, because it's very, very difficult.
And then you have guys that you've never heard of that go through Q-School and work their way up and play well. So it's a much harder road to get through Q-School to stay eligible out here to win golf tournaments.
Like talking about Vijay last week, winning 18 tournaments after 40. It's hard to win a tournament out here. They say it all the time, the list of guys that have won one time is really long and the list of guys that win two is short. It just gets harder and harder to compete out here.
It's intimidating, one, to try to play out here, and then when you actually get out here and see how hard it is and how many good players there are and everybody hits it as far as you and just as good as you, it's a mental battle more than anything. I think the guys that are mentally the toughest are the ones that stay out here for a long time.

Q. Did you get a chance to see any of the Golf Channel's coverage of Mercedes last week?
DAVIS LOVE III: Just a little bit. Just enough to see kind of the production quality and hear a few of the voices, but I didn't watch it for an extended period of time. But it looked good. It looked like they were having fun. I was on a couple of times so I could hear what was going on.
It looked like they were having fun and they were excited, trying new things. They have got passion for it, so I'm sure these three weeks are going to be hard for them jumping right in. But I think we're going to see a lot of neat, new exciting things from them.

Q. Obviously a lot of people talk about the need to have someone like ESPN or someone like that do it. Do you think it was necessary to go to someone like The Golf Channel to try to find somebody that might try different things, innovative things to make golf a little more interesting because of the way the sport is currently?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's important that you had somebody that wanted to cover golf and not just have the top -- a few top players. ESPN did a great job for us, but they really weren't interested in growing the game or it wasn't their main focus and golf was just another sport for them.
I think the Golf Channel, obviously they are on all the time, they are going to show all of the tournament rounds at least twice. They are really anxious for programming and anxious to grow. They are growing their business around PGA TOUR. ESPN is not growing their business around the PGA TOUR. It's just another programming. They are just as interested in poker.
I think Golf Channel will be, when you looked at it a year ago, you say, well, I'm not real sure. But I think when the players look back in a year, they are going to think, well, it's one of the best things that ever happened to us. I think it's real exciting.

Q. As a member of the policy board, did you have involvement in that decision at all?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, we were in it for a long time and crunched all the numbers and heard all the arguments why it was better. You know, we're a partner with them, as opposed to them just buying a package and taking it and putting it on the air. We're working really closely with them. Obviously we're trying to help them grow to more and more homes, so we're in more and more homes.
I think with the projections, you know, it turns out to actually be more golf seen on TV than it would have been on any other network. I mean, it's easy to find the Golf Channel if you're a golfer. It was hard to find golf on Thursday, Fridays, if you didn't just stumble on it. You had to go find it because each week it would change and it would be USA and it would be ESPN. And now you know, the PGA TOUR is on The Golf Channel, if you turn it on, it will be on. Just think about how many golf clubs have it on just nonstop. And now, I mean, how many homes I'm finding out have it, and they just leave it on. Even through the informercials, they just leave it on and that's good for us.

Q. That's some sick people. Do you watch the informercials?
DAVIS LOVE III: Thank goodness for them (laughter) they are watching.

Q. Do you look upon this year as a fresh challenge with all of the uncertainties of working out down the road your schedule, or is there a feeling of being jolted out of a comfort zone what you've done last few years?
DAVIS LOVE III: I keep trying to tell the players who are unsure, if you just play the same tournaments you've always played and do well in them, you'll get rewarded for it.
I think there's just been so much talk about it that guys are, you know, not concerned but they are anxious about it. I think it really helped last week for Vijay to win and his points, and the guy in 10th to get his points. Now you can see, there's a points list. It looks just like the Money List, just a different number, and Vijay is leading and Davis and a couple other guys are tied for fourth.
After this week, if Vijay doesn't win, there will be another guy up there with him, you know. Guys are going to figure it out and everybody, the fans, everybody is going to figure it out after we play a few tournaments and see, all right, this is the way it's going to work. Instead of seeing Vijay at $1 million, we see Vijay at 4,500. And with familiarity, everyone is going to get more and more comfortable once you see it. Then you'll realize, geez, that's what I have to do at the end of the year. To move up, I can only move up 4,500 points or whatever at a time.
So it's going to be real interesting when you get in the middle of the year and everybody has got a grasp of it and then they start thinking of, how is it going to work now they are going to say, here is what's going to happen. Here is who is leading, here is who is this far ahead. It doesn't matter that this guy is 10,000 ahead. If you just stay in first, then you'll be seeded first. I think we'll get a better handle on it the farther we go.

Q. Where you would you be right now, mostly up here (indicating head) if it were not for Greensboro?
DAVIS LOVE III: I would probably not be here, I'd probably be sliding around in the snow somewhere.

Q. What would your outlook be?
DAVIS LOVE III: I'd be in the same boat I was in right before Greensboro. Felt I was close to winning and had to get out of my own way and try to be patient through another winter of not winning.
You know, I was close to playing well a bunch, and just like last week, I felt like last week I could have easily won if I just -- a few things here or there that would have gone right.
But it's much easier saying, well, I know I did it in Greensboro; if I'm patient, it will happen again, and come into this week rather than beating myself up for making mistakes again and not winning, I'm a little more relaxed.

Q. How much more upbeat are you? How much does a win do for you in that regard?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, a little bit more upbeat. I'm more upbeat because I'm in Hawaii for two weeks and that's a good start.

Q. We like it, too.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. Everybody's happy these two weeks, except when the wind is blowing 40 and you're teeing off. I think it just gives you a better, positive outlook on the year, a couple more tournaments that you know you're in and relax a little bit.

Q. Vijay made some reference, talking about his win number 30, that you get to these certain milestones and he brought you up being at 19, and sometimes, I don't know if it's extra pressure, or it's just on your mind more that the next one, your next win won't be No. 22 or 17; it will be 20.

Q. Especially when it comes with some optional extras.
DAVIS LOVE III: Some perks. Well, it is a milestone. I remember thinking when they talked about Lanny getting to 20, thinking, golly, that's a big number. And now you're trying to figure out, well, how do you get to Vijay's number. You know, that's the number where you want to be.
So just got to keep looking farther ahead. I don't want to just get to 30. I'd like to be at 20 this week; I'd like to get to 30 in the next few years. 18, the more you think about, it 18 wins after 40, I'd like to get at least half of that, you know, real quick here before I get too creaky.
Again, I see Vijay in the gym working hard, pounding balls out there yesterday. There's 40 people watching somebody hit balls and I looked around there, it's Vijay hitting balls yesterday at 5:00 yesterday afternoon and that's the difference.

Q. Yeah, but he's sleeping off a hangover in the morning.
DAVIS LOVE III: A work-out hangover. It's a motivation obviously to get to 20. But as I said in Greensboro, 20 is on the way to something else hopefully.

Q. Just your thoughts on the majors this year, Oakmont and Carnoustie in particular?
DAVIS LOVE III: They are going to be difficult, aren't they.

Q. First time since Hogan in '53 that they have all been in, to go Augusta, Oakmont, Carnoustie.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's going to be three hard ones. Somebody just said they played Augusta and how hard it was. Three of the four at least will be extremely hard.

Q. Do you have any fond memories from Carnoustie or just memories?
DAVIS LOVE III: Not really. Just memories. (Laughter).
I played actually pretty good there. It was so hard, you couldn't get away with a whole lot of mistakes. I'm excited about trying again. I'm sure it won't be as hard as last time.

Q. You sure about that?

Q. Wind don't blow all that terrible last time, did it?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, but they had a bunch of seed that shouldn't have been there. They had grown all kind of crazy grass. It will be a little different I think.
TODD BUDNICK: Thanks for your time.

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