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November 9, 2008

Davis Love III


CHRIS REIMER: We'd like to welcome the 2008 Children's Miracle Network Classic champion, Davis Love III, to the interview room. Davis, congratulations. 64, 64 on the weekend is impressive enough, but I think you'll probably agree those two pars on 17 and 18 today pretty much -- that was equally impressive, to say the least. Just a few comments on the victory.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yeah, the last two holes weren't pretty, and then the ninth wasn't pretty. I hit three bad drives and had to scramble on three of the harder holes, but I hit a lot of good shots this week, and had a lot of opportunities for birdie early in the week and didn't convert them.
But I putted extremely well the last two days, and you know, I've been watching guys like Zach Johnson and guys like that that have been putting really well on these Bermuda greens. I said, I know how to putt these greens. Eventually they're going to start going in.
And I was real patient with it, and I finally got it this weekend. They did start going in, and every one seemed to be right in the middle today, and I was very fortunate to get away with a win because Tommy played great.
It's hard to believe with those new tees that guys are throwing 64s out right and left, but it shows you how good the greens are. They're the best I've seen in a lot of years of playing here.
CHRIS REIMER: This is win number 20 on the PGA TOUR here for you, and everybody knows that with that comes a lifetime exemption. Just share your thoughts on that realization.
DAVIS LOVE III: I've been trying not to think about what that meant and I haven't looked it up, so maybe you can explain lifetime exemption, what that means.
You know, I just remember that Lanny, when he won 20 was so excited and what a big deal it was to him and to a guy who was, you know, ahead of me, that that separated Lanny from everybody else that he had won 20 events. And back then that was a dream, fantasy.
But I've been saying all along I want to get to 20 because you can't get to 21 or 22 or 23 until you get to 20, and 20's been a long time coming.
So I'm just thrilled to come out on top and to accomplish really what I wanted to do this fall was to get out and compete and play to win, and not try to make the 125 and not just try to make cuts and just show up, but to come to play to win.
I had a few chances and didn't have good rounds on Sundays, or good consistent weeks, and this week I had a really good consistent week. I was right there with my routine all the way through and was very patient, and I didn't look at the leaderboard until the last tee, and I probably shouldn't have done that.
But I did a real good job of staying in the present and just playing golf and enjoying these six weeks, and it paid off in the end.
CHRIS REIMER: Okay. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Davis, you're in the hazard, in the rough on 17. Tommy has a 4-footer for birdie on 18, and then talk about holding it together those last two par saves. What were you thinking about?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the important thing is -- and one thing I thought about out there in the middle of the round is that at least I haven't been playing well, but I've been willing to work hard and learn and not just sit back and take it easy.
And I've learned a lot. I've talked to Bob Rotella. I went to his house last year, spent a lot of time with him. Spent some time with Morris Pickens, who's a sports psychologist at Sea Island, trying to learn why we get good and why we get bad and how we get off.
And Rotella told me about Trevor Immelman not looking at the scoreboard at the last round of The Masters, and he didn't know after he hit it in the water at 16 where he stood, and that's what I was trying to do all day was just play and not know where I stood.
Obviously I knew I was leading, but I didn't know what other guys were shooting. I just knew the two guys in my group, and I even tried not to look at the sign, just to keep myself focused on just playing the game.
I learned a lot over the last few years on how I can improve myself when I'm under pressure and when I'm not playing well, and it certainly paid off today because those last two holes, I could have chipped out, hit it on the green, missed the putt, not got up-and-down on the bunker and finished well back, and I just stayed in the process, just one at a time trying to do my best on each one. And I played them with confidence.
I was in trouble, but I was confident that I was going to get the ball up-and-down. I wasn't thinking about winning or losing or screwing up. I was thinking about chasing that ball and getting it up-and-down. So a lot went into those last two holes over the last two years, for sure.

Q. When we spoke to you yesterday behind the 18th green, you said you just wanted to get a sense of what it felt like to be in the winner's circle again, and I'm wondering now, two years after your last victory, whether emotionally it carries a greater weight than say 17, 18 or 19 did?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm going to for another hour try to act like it's not a big deal (laughs) and hold it together. But you know, it's a big win for me.
It's been a long time, and you know, a lot of people have put in a lot of worry and thought and effort and tried to help me get back to where I was. And you know, a lot of people have had a lot of confidence in me. And I've tried to balance the "what's wrong with Davis? How can we help Davis?" You know, "how do we get him through this?"
It's been a long three years because everybody, like me, expects me to play better, and certainly I've had a couple bad breaks, but I still, even after getting hurt, I should have played better all year. I shouldn't have been this long to put four good rounds together. And not necessarily have to win, but I haven't put four good rounds together all year.
I haven't made the saves and hit enough fairways and greens and taken the pressure off my putter. That's what I basically did, until the last two holes. I had the pressure off of my putter. I wasn't missing every green and having to get up-and-down.
Scotty V put the pressure on his putter today. I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, had a lot of birdie putts. In Vegas and in Scottsdale and in New York, I'm putting for birdies and driving it down the middle of the fairway. I'm doing everything well, but I just wasn't putting it all together, and I think this week, obviously to win everything has to go right.
I had some good breaks, made some good up-and-downs, but I played very, very well. It means an awful lot to put it all together.

Q. Pretty crazy game when a guy who's 220 something on the Money List, he's made 65 grand all year, probably not enough money to pay his caddy, gives you everything you can and pushes you all the way down to the end like that. I know the Fall Series has had a lot of that, but that's about as two polar extremes on the accomplishment scale as you can possibly have, the guys that finished first and second.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. And you feel bad for him, you know. Yeah, he came so close, you know, and it would have been a great story.
But I've been out here for six weeks. I've been watching all these guys. Most of them -- a lot of them I don't know, like some of the officials that I've been saying this week. I met a lot of new people, or got to know a lot of these names that I couldn't put a face to. But yeah, it's amazing.
But you know what, that's what's so incredible about our TOUR is how many good players there are that can just pop out of nowhere and turn it on and play so well and why next week, Q-School, is so tough because there are so many great players out there, and why it's hard for guys 44 years old to hang around because these guys are going to kick you right out.
I mean until Steve Marino chipped that ball onto the bunker, he looked like a veteran that knew exactly what he was doing. He didn't know how to drop off that 150 marker on 11, which was pretty funny. But he was calm, cool, collected, having fun. You know, even with a bad drive here or there.
And I'm like, this guy's not afraid of anything. He doesn't care how many tournaments Scott Verplank and Davis Love have won.
So yeah, there's a bunch of them out there, and one good round like this can propel Tommy right on out.
But just one guy after another. I played with a bunch of them these last six weeks that are really, really strong players, and I've said it, you know, when I was on the board, I said you can take the Nationwide guys and put them in the PGA TOUR week and make the PGA TOUR players go play the Nationwide and the scores won't change. It's just going to change the faces. There's so many good players, it's amazing. So I'm impressed with the depth of the TOUR these days.
These are great events. I mean people -- really Golf Channel does a great job and some of the fans that came out, but there was a lot of golf these six weeks. I saw all but two weekends of it. There was some really, really good golf. And it's not like a Davis Love or Scott Verplank or guys can just pop out and pick up an easy win.
You're right, 64, 64, 64 is all you see. These guys shoot it every day, and it's impressive.

Q. Davis, I don't know if you're aware of this, but this is your 15th straight round in the 60s here. That breaks Tiger's record.
DAVIS LOVE III: Hey. At least I got one of his records.

Q. And by winning today I think you passed Vijay and Tiger for the all-time money winning here at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. What is it about this place that seems to bring out the best of your game?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've always enjoyed playing these courses, and not Vijay but I'm a lot older than Tiger, so I got an edge on him there. I've put in a lot of time here. I've played a lot of rounds.
I've always enjoyed these courses. I love Bermuda greens. I putt these greens very well most of the time, and I've been close. You get confidence at a place -- I didn't realize I shot that many straight rounds, especially since they've made the course harder and harder over the years. They're probably going to make it harder now, even again.
But just very comfortable here, and the people have always been great to all the pros, but they've been very gracious to me here, and I've always enjoyed playing here.

Q. You nibbled around this question a minute ago with your answer, but giving -- I think you've got one win since '04, maybe '03 somewhere in there the Wyndham win, or Greensboro. Does it make it more meaningful even to a guy who's got a Major and a couple of Players Championships, given the water under the bridge since that time, and some thought as to whether you were actually going to be able to dig yourself out of this hole, transplants and cadavers and all that good stuff over the last few months and years?
DAVIS LOVE III: You always question, am I doing the right things and can I still do it and why am I doing it. Why am I pounding balls on the back of the range. You know, I had a good wake-up call at the end of last year when I didn't get to play these tournaments and fell out of the top 50, and you know, had to get in the gym and get my body back first and then get my game back. So it was definitely a challenge.
It wasn't exactly what I needed after not playing well, like you said, for a couple years, was to have to come back from an injury. But I didn't doubt my desire or I didn't doubt the fact that I could compete, but the little things, you know, making the putts when you had to and all that, that's golf.
You know, you never know whether like a Duval or whoever, you never know when it's going to turn on and when it's going to turn off. And you certainly do turn off and how do you turn it back on, and that's why I said I spent a lot of time with Rotella.
My son started working with Morris Pickens, and I listened for an hour lesson, and he goes, you got any questions? I said, yeah, I got questions about me, not about him (laughs). I'm not doing all that stuff.
So you know, I've questioned, you know, whether I'm doing the right things, and what it comes back to is I know how to do it. I just gotta put the time in and keep doing the simple things, not trying to reinvent my game or my swing or the way I play. Just play Davis Love golf, and it's good enough, and the confidence, I mean the chicken or the egg. We've been through that a million times. What comes first?
I think having a plan and sticking with it and being patient -- one player was throwing stuff in his locker Sunday at Scottsdale, and he said, I don't know how you've been out here playing so long. And.
I was getting ready to go take a shower, and I said, "patience," and I turned around and I walked off. And that's really what it is. You gotta be patient. You gotta work hard and you gotta, like I said earlier, be willing to learn.
But I've been very patient with myself. I haven't beat myself up, and if I have questioned or wondered where it went or where I was going, I never gave up and I never thought that I couldn't get it back. I just wondered how I was going to get it back.
And you know, obviously my brother and Joe LaCava have seen me play all year and just wondering what's going on. You know, where is the winner's circle, because I look like a guy that should win, and it's all in your head.
It's nice to do some things today, like make a few putts and hit a few great shots and make a birdie after Steve makes a birdie. The things that are all about competing, getting the ball up-and-down on the bunker on 18, those are the things that is a difference.
And Matt Cuza (sp.) said something in the race yesterday, one of the guys made a good pit stop. He said, "That's a champagne-spraying pit stop right there, boys." And when I got that ball up-and-down on 9, I said, "That's a champagne-spraying pit stop right there," or up-and-down, because that's how tournaments are won is when you do something, you know, out of the ordinary, you make a great -- Steve made a couple long putts that I'm sure he felt like were momentum builders, but that up-and-down at 9 was what won me the tournament.

Q. In some regard maybe the injury forced you to do some stuff and work a lot harder on some things that maybe you might not have done in some ways. It could have been a blessing for you.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. I think in the long run -- well, yeah, I've been blessed a lot of ways in my life, but I think it was in the long run. It was a blessing. Made me, one, spend time with my family, get my golf design business straightened out and do a lot of things we needed to do around home and it made me get stronger.
I mean I still have people every week go, oh, you losing weight? No. I stepped in a hole and made me start working out more, so I look a little better than I did last year. But it made me work, you know, is what it did, and it made me go back to basics and work on everything I always used to work on.
And you know, my only problem was I was working too hard on things trying to get better rather than just doing the simple things day in and day out, and that's the hardest thing to do, is to get up in the morning and do the simple things to make yourself better, work on your alignment, work on your posture, work on your routine. Those things are boring.
That's why Tiger does so well. He does the little things that nobody wants to do and he does them over and over and over and then he goes running and he makes himself stronger. The attention to detail that he has is what I was lacking and I'm trying to get back.

Q. You stepped in a hole, the ankle presumably rolled this way? Is that what happened?
DAVIS LOVE III: Over the top.

Q. Over the top and you were actually on a golf course place you were building?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I was actually playing with Tom Borst, our back therapist, just for fun on the first hole, and I ran off the side of the tee box and stepped in a tricky Bermuda-covered hole and popped two ligaments.

Q. Did you have cadaver transplant?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. Put them back together. I just tore them. I had all the high ankle sprain. I had sprained everything, and the surgery was, you know, simple, but recovering from the trauma of the -- you know, I just bent it. I went over the top of it like that.

Q. It was actual fracture, too?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. It didn't break, which they said might have been better than what I did. But it was a long way back, but I had a lot of good people helping there, too.
Randy Myers Buckley got me on a good foundation of fitness before I did it so I could come back real quick, and had a lot of help through that.

Q. You talk about the injury you came back from. I know it's not the beginning of your own game. Any thoughts on what Erik Compton did this week coming back five months after a heart transplant?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. I just stepped in a hole. (Laughs). He's incredible. I got to talk to him a couple times during the week. We've all been pulling for him. That was a great story, and hopefully he can keep it going, get stronger and keep playing, but yeah, that was great to see him out.

Q. Can you discuss the bunker shot on 18, how difficult would that have been normally and how difficult was it in that situation? You made it look easy.
DAVIS LOVE III: I made it look easy, and I said on the TV out there that was for Bob Bokey (sp.), who y'all know had surgery and is not feeling much better yet, but that was as hard an up-and-down as the 106 yards on 17. That was one that could go 10 or 15 feet by easy, and I walked up there saying I'm going to hole it.
My brother said, all right, it'll go in. So that's -- all that is is Bob Rotella in your head saying, don't get up there and going if I hit this too easy, I'm going to dump it or don't knock it 20 feet by. Give yourself a putt at it.
I'm trying to hole it and it almost when it hit the green, it looked like it might go in. Same thing on 13, when he chipped it into the bunker, I said, well, I'm going to chip mine in. I didn't think, oh, boy, what if I sat it. I'm going to chip mine in.
And it hung on the lip. And that's the difference in my game, you know, pick-a-week-in-the-summer and now, is I'm back to playing to putt to make every putt, chip the ball in, playing to win, rather than playing defense.
And I was going to smash me an 8-iron from 190 yards on the last hole. I was going to fire it back there in the middle of the green where I could two-putt it and get out of here. And I didn't bail. I didn't like where it ended up, but I didn't mind because I took a swing at it.
I didn't on 17 tee. I quit on that one a little bit, but most of the rest of them all day I went ahead and took a swing at 'em, and was confident.

Q. Just kind of flew too far, didn't it?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. It was so much grass, it kind of turned it over a little bit, but it flew a long way.

Q. Something inherent about the number 20 just sounds better than 19.
DAVIS LOVE III: Sounds a heck of a lot better, for sure. But 21 will sound way better than 20, so you know, and really, you look at Vijay, you look at Fred Funk. You look at Jay Haas, you know, go on and on, that guy on the rope said at the British Open when I finished this year said, That was a great tournament, and at your age you're playing good. Where do you think -- I said, the guy that's winning is 53 (laughs) and he doesn't even play. He's part time.
I said, I'm working at it. I'm going to be doing the same thing when I'm 53. I'm going to be playing in the British Open trying to win.
And you know, I think at my age, you know, I can still compete, not just in this tournament, but at Kapalua and the rest of the year, and I wanted to do what Justin did last year. Get me some confidence in the fall and go have a great year next year.
I want to play on Freddie's President's Cup team and get back to doing the things that I'm used to doing.
And I'm not going to play until I'm 65 and win Disney for the twelfth time, but I'm not ready for it to end. I want to keep working at it and keep playing.
If Roy will have me, I'll come play, but I wouldn't expect to win. But you know, I'd certainly feel like in my length and if I keep working on the little things, the short game -- you know, I'm excited now. I'm ready to go home and practice my short game because I know that I can still get better and I'll have something to do, and my son hasn't been practicing, so I'm going to have to carry him at the father-son if he doesn't get to work.
CHRIS REIMER: If you wouldn't mind just lastly running through your birdies today. Give us a little description, some clubs.
DAVIS LOVE III: Okay. I'm glad you didn't say bogeys.
CHRIS REIMER: No, not one.
DAVIS LOVE III: Two, I hit a driver and a pitching wedge to about 21 feet, and then 4 I hit a driver and a 3-wood in the middle of the green and two-putted. And then five, hit a driver and an 8-iron, a long 8-iron. It was downwind. And then 10 was driver and a 4-iron, just in the back fringe and then putted it by about six feet, and I made it coming back.
And then 11, 3-iron off the tee and then a pitching wedge 13 feet. And after Steve made a nice long putt, so that was a good putt there. And then 13, drove it up there right in front of the green high and wedged it up there right on the lip. And then 14, hit a good drive and chickened out and laid up, but I figured a 3-wood was going to go over the green and a 4-wood probably wasn't enough. So I laid up and then hit kind of a mediocre wedge, but made a real nice putt up the hill.
And then 16, hit a real good drive and an 8-iron out there in the middle of the green and another nice putt, 19. And then of course, the great up-and-downs at the last two.
CHRIS REIMER: Okay. Davis Love III, congratulations. Appreciate you coming.
DAVIS LOVE III: Thank you.

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