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June 13, 2008

Davis Love III


Full Audio Interview

RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Davis Love, III to the interview room. Davis with a round of 2-under par 69 today. 1-under par for the championship. Davis, maybe you can start us off with some general comments about your fine round this morning.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it was a good round and I watched an even better round from Padraig and we had a good day. The greens were really nice this morning. When we finished last night they were a little bit scary and this morning they were perfect. And we took advantage of it.

I made some par putts starting off and made some nice birdie putts towards the end of the round and there was a few pins that were accessible if you hit some good drives. So we both had a good day and happy to be in in red numbers, obviously, after the first two days of a U.S. Open. It's nice to be in the red.

RAND JERRIS: For the record could I ask you to go through the birdies and bogeys on your card?

DAVIS LOVE III: Sure. Started on the back and hit a driver and a 5-iron and a wedge from about 100 yards to just a few feet at 13 for a birdie.

Missed the green at 14 with an 8-iron in the bunker and made a bogey there.

Then the numbers are getting smaller.


I'm looking at No. 1. I'm looking at the par. Okay.

Yeah, hit a bad 7-iron at 3. Never really got comfortable with the yardage and pulled it left down in the canyon but made a real nice up-and-down. Made about a 10, 12-footer for bogey there.

And then on 6 hit a really good drive and a really good 7-iron and hit it a little right of where I was aiming. So it was right at the flag. And it bounced up there close and I made a nice 6 or 8- footer.

7, hit another really good drive and a pitching wedge to maybe 10 feet, 8 feet maybe.

Then 8, got it up on the top level, which is hard to do, and then made a nice long putt with about a foot of break in it, which was nice to roll one in there. That's a tough hole.

Could have easily birdied 9 but made a lot of good solid pars today and a few nice par putt saves. So all in all a good day.

Q. Could you just describe what it's been like to try to get it back together after last year and the problems that you had health- wise and how scary was that in terms of did you fear that it was going to be a longer process?

DAVIS LOVE III: I did at first think it was going to be a longer process. I've had some really good help from therapists and trainers to get back to where I could at least start playing and then you have to -- once you get physically healthy then you have to get the brain healthy. And there's very few people that seem to be able to help you with that.


And just playing a lot's helped me with that. Getting out there and competing.

So I've been blessed that I've gotten back to playing and then been able to keep playing and keep up the week to week, like I said, this is my third week in a row and to be able to do that, throw in the qualifying in the middle of it, and play my way back into shape, I've been really lucky. So I put in a lot of hard work in October, November, December, January, but it's hard to look at it positively, but I think I've done that. I think that's been my biggest strength that I looked at it as a challenge and looked at it positively and enjoyed the challenge and I wish they would have had a two-round qualifying for the Masters, because I think I could have gotten through that one too.

I'm looking forward to just trying to get better and better and getting your confidence back is a hard thing. And obviously I didn't have it before I got sick and then got hurt. So it was double hard for me to come back from it.

Q. Two part question. First, when was the last time that you did have to go through qualifying to get in a Major Championship?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know exactly. But it's probably late '80s. I know the year my daughter was born I did have to qualify and I don't know if I might have had to qualify a year after that or two. But in '88 I definitely did. And she just turned 20. So it's been at least 17, I don't know, 18 in a row I played? So at least 17 years, I guess. Maybe a little more.

Q. Having to be at home during Augusta, I know that it was very disappointing for you, but did it sort of reinvigorate you to comeback here and sort of start it fresh and anew?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, missing the Masters if I win the U.S. Open, it doesn't make up for missing the Masters, it just means that I'm in next -- I'm in the Masters next few years. But that was disappointing.

But I keep looking at it, people, a lot of people that week said oh, it's just a shame. I said you know what, guys get hurt and don't get to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs and they get hurt and don't get to play in the NBA finals or the World Series. And I watched like Mark Messier skate in the Cup, but he really, he got hurt and he didn't get to play the second half of the year. He really didn't get to play in it.

So I have looked at it that way, that if I hadn't have got hurt, I would have kept on playing through September, October, and I might could have kept my position and could have started off in Hawaii and maybe been a little more prepared to try to get in the Masters.

So I took it with a grain of salt. But I had an opportunity to get in this one and I knew it was coming. And I trained a lot to get ready to be able to play 36 holes and tried to get my game back in shape. And I'm still -- I got 36 holes this weekend, that could help me get in a lot of Majors. And then if not, I go to Detroit. Go 36 again for The Open. So it's nice that it's out there for me, and I think as long as I stay positive and keep playing hard, that good things will happen.

Q. You know, when a ball player comes back from an injury, a pitcher, sometimes he's a different pitcher when he comes back, a different player. It's been several years since the PGA and now you've gone through some injury things. Is it fair to say you're a different player now than you were before, and if so, in what way?

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think so. I thought I was really hitting it long until the ninth hole and Angel hit it 15 by me again. But I'm hitting it plenty far and I'm hitting it solid and I think if all I'm really lacking is a hundred percent confidence, and that's hard to come by, I think I'm getting better and better at that. So I don't think I'm any different except mentally.

I think physically I can play the game, and I think if I get on a roll, get my confidence going, I can have a few more really, really good years, and possibly great. And the way I putted -- I've been putting good because I've been -- I had to putt good starting off the beginning of this year just to get through some of the rounds. And I don't know what the stats say, and I don't even want to look, but I feel like I'm putting really well. And I know that last week I putted well, and obviously I putted very well these first two days.

I heard Roger Maltbie during the telecast yesterday morning, somebody hit it in the rough and hit a wedge out and hit a wedge on the green and made a putt and he goes, that's a U.S. Open par, a driver in the rough, a wedge in the fairway, a wedge on the green, and make a putt. And I've been doing that. I've been kind of living that the last two days, if you hit it in the rough, wedge it out, get it up-and-down.

And I did that on the first hole today, and did it several times yesterday, and I feel like I'm putting well enough that even if I don't hit it perfect, that I can still -- and I watched Padraig, he really didn't have it yesterday and still hit a few loose shots, got himself right back in the tournament by just playing the game, just getting the ball up-and-down. And I think I'm putting well enough to do that, and then, therefore, I'll start striking it better, which I really have. I only hit a few bad shots today, and I feel like when I lay down at night, I'm tired, but I don't feel any different than playing in this 15 or 20 years ago.

Q. Wondering what you think of this place since the renovation.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I like it. I've always -- all these golf courses around San Diego have been good to me. I've always played pretty well here. Now that Rees has put his touch on it, it looks familiar to me because I play a lot at a course at Sea Island, Ocean Forest, that Rees did. So my brother and I were talking coming up on nine green saying how much it looked like some of the holes at one of our home clubs. So I enjoy it.

I love the challenge of the way the USGA's got it set up. It's obviously -- I don't know the right way to put it, it's more fun to play than the last two years. There are some opportunities out there. If you hit good shots, you know you're going to get rewarded, and if you hit bad shots, you know that it's not the end of the world. And it's not such a fine line as the last two years.

So I like the course. It's long. And I can't complain about long golf courses, because my brother and I built a couple of them, but the game has certainly changed in the last 20 years. But it hasn't changed 600 yards or 800 yards like some of these golf courses that are getting to be.

Every hole doesn't have to be 500 yards. This course, there's a lot of length, but it's playing nicely, a lot of the length is downwind, 6 and 13, and I think that they have done a fairly good job. The average player, though, doesn't need to see the back tees on this golf course. And that's -- just like I don't need to be trying to dunk it or hit it out of Turner Field. The average guy doesn't need to be playing nearly as far back as us and deeper rough as us, but I think this course is set up fair, but tough.

I think some of our TOUR courses recently have been extremely hard, where we're pushing the limits, and we probably ought to back off so the fans can see some birdies.

I think today was great. We'll see what happens this afternoon, but both mornings you saw some birdies. And I think that's what the fans want to see. So hopefully the Purdue course for the NCAAs and some of the courses we have been playing recently on TOUR just getting a little too hard. I think the fans want to see some birdies. But anyway, that's a whole other subject.

Q. There's that rehab schedule, give us an idea of what that was like and how strenuous and tedious it was, and also I think you said something at the time, you've done a lot of high risk things in your life and how ironic it was to get hurt that way.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, my mom, I don't think she still doesn't actually believe that I stepped in a hole. I think that she thinks I must have done something, like fall off a motorcycle or something.

But it was tedious, I think is the right word. Now I know what John Smoltz is looking forward to, when he has to go through surgery again. It's not easy, it's not fun, but again, the lord blessed me that I had a good surgery, I had great trainers, great therapists, and it worked. Brad Faxon, we all know, his didn't work and he had to go do it all over again and he's still draining his knee trying to play.

I could have been right there with him. Same basically same age, hard to come back from an injury, so I was really, really blessed that I was able to come back from it and I put the work in. But sometimes you put the work in, and it doesn't work. You have seen it in every other sport, and ours, a guy comes back and the first day it doesn't work. So I was lucky that it worked.

But it was two good, solid months of nothing, but once, twice, three times a day of therapy. And Randy Myers, the trainer from Sea Island whose out here with us this week, had me in the gym two days after surgery. I was in there with bandage and stitches doing stuff, upper body. They kept me active, kept me going, and treated me like a football player.

So you're going to do it, we're going to make you do it. And it wasn't fun. Most of it wasn't fun. But it was a challenge and it took me until the end of January to feel like I could really start playing. So a good three months. And I'm still doing stuff. There will be a bag of ice tonight and went up to TPI two days ago and they worked on me. So it's going to be a process. And they said it would take me a year. So I'm still keeping after it.

Q. In view of what you have been through, what do you think about Tiger's injury and the way he's comeback?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, he's gotten good at coming back from that knee. But he's very strong, and I think I heard somebody say it yesterday, one of the announcers said, you know, we need to quit talking about the knee, it's the layoff that's the hard part. He's so strong, the knee's going to be, probably like me, it's going to be sore at night. But while he's playing, it's probably not going to bother him. It's the layoff from playing golf that's so hard to come back from. And I think that's what was amazing for him, to pop right back in a U.S. Open and shoot, what, 1-over?

You know, he hit a few bad shots, but, gosh, to come back and just compete without testing it, yeah, I was thinking he was going to pop up at Memphis, just to try it, just to see what a round felt like. And that's what's amazing about him and all the things that he's done.

And David Duval, when he was playing World No. 1, he would take two or three weeks off and just pop right back in and win. I guess your confidence -- when you're striking the ball well, it's a little bit easier, but I think his knee's probably fine. It's playing the game that's the hardest part and obviously he did real well with it yesterday.

RAND JERRIS: Well, Davis, thanks very much for your time and congratulations on the fine play.

DAVIS LOVE III: All right. Thanks.

End of FastScripts

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