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January 8, 2009

Davis Love III


DOUG MILNE: Davis, thank you for joining us here after the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship. You ended 2008 in the most ideal way you could with a win at Disney, and here you are off to a great start with a 4-under 69 today. Some thoughts on the round and we'll open up for questions.
DAVIS LOVE III: Obviously a good score in windy, rainy conditions, so off to a good start. I putted well. Made a couple nice putts right out of the box for par and birdie. Then putted pretty good all day. Didn't make them all, but I made enough to get a good score.
I didn't play the par 5s very pretty, but I got some birdies in some other places and hit the ball pretty solid for the most part all day. So it was a good start.

Q. You have not been here for a while, obviously, and you were struggling there for about a year and a half, two years, and you win; is it now like a new life and you're going forward again?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, no, I've been close to playing well, and I kept saying it over and over and over; I'm close to playing well. It just nice to get four good rounds at Disney and get some confidence back.
I've been working real hard on my putting, on my short game, and it starting to pay off. Like today, I made a couple good up-and-downs and some nice putts that kept me from being 72 or 73 and got me 4-under. The short game definitely is improving.
It's nice to have the confidence back and be able to take, basically, 2 1/2 weeks off in the snow, and then come right back and start playing good golf, just like I did. I played in the father-son, was the last time I played, and I played pretty well there.
Just feels good. It's nice to be, you know, 80 or 90% healthy after where I was this time last year.

Q. Is there a part of you that wanted to concentrate really hard, at least on the West Coast, and get your season kind of started?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I'm going to do a lot on the West Coast to try to get off to a good start and work my way into the Match Play, hopefully, and try to work my way into the Masters. I could move up into the rankings and get in, like I think Justin did that last year and got off to a really good start; a bunch of good finishes in the beginning got him in.
Even without winning, you win a Fall Series event, whatever you want to call it; and then he played good in the beginning of the year without winning a FedExCup event and got in the Masters. So got two different ways to get in, which is nice.

Q. What's your best memory of Kapalua?
DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, I don't know. A lot of them on and off the golf course. Some wins here and a playoff with Mike Hulbert one time, and he won. It was a lot of fun for him and to be in a playoff with him, one of my best friends.
I was thinking about where Dustin Johnson hit his ball on one hole, "Oh, Freddie got away with one here." A lot of great memories of playing here for a long, long time. All the way back to '86, I almost won and got beat by Andy Bean first time I played here over at the Bay Course.
I have a lot of good memories here. I think that gets me around the golf course a little bit, too. Guys come over and they don't quite get it. I think it's a little bit of an advantage, a couple shots, playing in so many different conditions. Especially if it turns around and blows the other way, a lot of people have never seen that.

Q. People used to talk about your length when you were 24, 25, 26; do you feel that way looking at Dustin?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, he hits them pretty big. But you know, there's a lot of guys like that. I'm shocked sometimes, the guys that don't look as big and as strong as other guys are hitting it a long way.
That's what I keep telling my son. You have to work at every part of your game, and you've got to work on your length. It used to be you never told somebody that was young, Oh, you have to make sure you're hitting it a long way. Because you have to have length out here these days.
Watching him hit wedge from where I'm trying to hit a 9-iron in there, he hammered some by me pretty good. I got a couple on the downhill holes, but for the most part, if it was into the wind, he was hitting by me. But there was a lot of guys like that.

Q. Is it strange, 15 years ago, you were one of the very long hitters, and obviously age has something to do with it, and the whole change of the game with the guys, J.B. Holmes and people like that; is it strange to sort of be out-driven?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it doesn't happen -- it's not every day (laughter). But there are a lot of guys that hit it as far as me. When you look at the statistics, there's a whole bunch of guys piled at the same number in the top 20. That's what's amazing is how many guys. You know, when I hit it -- when I first came out, I was one of a couple of guys that would hit it way out there. Now there's a whole bunch of them.
And just about everybody on TOUR, when they are hitting it solid, they hit it a long way. I think like Dustin or me or a few other guys, we are long, even if we are not hitting it good, you know, and I think that's the difference and why he will have a very long career. Or Geoff Ogilvy, if he's hitting high, it goes long, or if he's hitting low, it goes long, or if he hits it a little off-center, it still goes a long way. J.B., all of those guys, they hit it so far even when they are not hitting it good.
Justin Leonard, if he's hitting it really solid, he gets it out there pretty good. But if he's not hitting it solid, there's where he's at a disadvantage. There's just so many of them now, is the difference.
I would not say I've fallen too far back. I just hit a 4-iron into 18, so it's no different than when I was playing here in the 90s. But there's a whole lot more guys that can do it. And I'm having to work hard to keep my length, but I don't think I'm losing a whole lot.

Q. A change in subject, I was watching the GOLF CHANNEL and they brought up the drug testing; what's your stance on that? Do you have any insight or input on that whole scenario?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I was on the board when it passed, but I don't have any input on that now. When they call my name, I have to go, barely (laughter). Drink more water.
You know, I understand that we have to say, look, look at our sport, we do things right. We are spending a heck of a lot of money to prove that we are pretty clean. But I wish the money -- I would rather spend the money than on drug testing. But in this day and age, we have to say, Look -- to kids in high school, or my son, Look, we are getting drug tested; we don't allow it and we don't put up with it.
Maybe for that reason, it's money well spent. But I don't think they are going to catch very many guys.

Q. With the tournament being live in the east, how important is it to get golf fans excited about the season?
DAVIS LOVE III: Against the football?

Q. Today is a tough day.
DAVIS LOVE III: Today is a tough day. I think that's what Lance Barrow always said about Pebble Beach. He said, "We've got celebrities, we've got great golfers, and we've got Pebble Beach, when people are all sitting at home and they are freezing. "
I always ask him, "Why do you get such good ratings at Pebble versus another events." People are sitting at home watching Hawaii for two weeks wishing that they were in the sunshine like us.
I think it's great the way we have gotten these first three tournaments in Hawaii, two of them in primetime and people sitting at home watching us in good weather, and Palm Springs is pretty nice, too.
I think not looking at -- I don't look at the numbers. I look at what people say at the clubs or Pro-Ams or whatever. People are really enjoying the way the golf is, the last year and the telecasts and the way they went. Our core fans are going to watch; you can move it to the Travel Channel or whatever. But on the GOLF CHANNEL, people know where it is and they watch it once and they go watch it again, because it's on twice.
I think being in Hawaii gets it off to a good start because everybody likes how pretty it is.

Q. You've talked about when you got to 20 and getting to 21 and 30, etc., was there any type of burden listed when you got your 20th win, just because it had been talked about so much?
DAVIS LOVE III: I didn't really start thinking about it at 15 wins or 18. I didn't really think about it, other than I think the pressure on me was just to play better to win. It really was not 20.
Afterwards, when Furman Bisher and right on down the list, Bob Murphy had not called me on the phone for ten years, but he called me on the phone to congratulate me. But so many people did that, that I started to realize how important it was to get to 20.
People start talking about me in the Hall of Fame; I didn't start off my career working towards 20 wins or the Hall of Fame. I just want to see how good I can get and try to win a lot. You know, it's nice to be 180 or 170 on the Money List and all of the sudden, you've got a lifetime exemption. That was pretty good. (Laughter).
So I've had a lot of friends say, "You were trying to not have to use one of your Money List exemptions, and all of a sudden you're a lifetime exemption."
So the realization is probably in the last couple of months, what it meant. I got a book from the TOUR of congratulations off the dot.com Website, it's that thick, and it's not one per page, it's two or three. It's incredible how many people acknowledge that, you know, 20 wins, and that's not counting my Website or my office. It's pretty amazing. It did hit me afterwards.
I was just working hard to try to get another win and try to get in the Masters and not have to do 36-hole qualifyings for the other majors. It was in the back of my mind, but certainly not in the front.

Q. Can you compare your game to earlier in your career?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's similar. For a couple of years I got to working so hard on my swing where I couldn't play and I got so wrapped up in mechanics.
The British Open, not last year, but the year before, I played really bad and sat down with Bob Rotella and said, What am I doing? He said, You're working out to play better, you're pounding balls to play better, and everything in your life is to play better. That isn't Davis Love. Davis Love would go snowboarding for two weeks and know that he was going to play good when he came back from snowboarding.
He said, "You've got it all completely backwards."
That's when I started getting kidney stones, and a couple months later stepped in a hole, and didn't get a chance to get going. He got me back to saying, Look, let's work hard on your short games and your routines and quit worrying about having a pretty golf swing and perfecting. You're going to hit a bad shot here or there. I was doing the -- Tom Kite hit that one bad shot to the right at Oak Hill, and he said, I'm never going to hit one to the right again. He started working so hard on his swing, he started working hard on his short game, and got back and won a major.
I got into that trap of, if I'm going to be perfect, I'm going to work so hard, I'm never going to hit it bad again, and got wrapped up in mechanics. It took me a while to get back going the other way. But I'm doing a lot better job of managing my time to where I'm spending more time on the short game and wedge and all that kind of stuff.

Q. Have you set any goals for yourself at age 43, at this stage in your career?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, definitely. I want to make Freddie's Presidents Cup team and get back to being competitive in the majors. I had a taste of it at the British where I felt like I was close.
And then, you know, I want to make it to THE TOUR Championship. I didn't make it to THE TOUR Championship the last couple of years, and I want to play for the FedExCup. Been kind of boring watching other guys play for it (laughter).
I'm excited about doing all of the things that I used to do. And that means I've got to keep after it and keep working hard and working smart. I can't -- I've got a lot of experience. I've got enough ball-striking ability. I've just got to do the little things, the short game, that keeps you in the game.

Q. You must have been on the board approving all of the FedExCup, everything, right?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was. I was in that two-year cycle of the FedExCup.

Q. Did you ever think --
DAVIS LOVE III: Not the changes since it's started now.

Q. Did you ever think when you approved the concept in the first few years that you would not be a part of it?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. See, they ran these models and I was always in the model (laughter). Here is what happened if you had a year like '06 or '05, and I was always doing really good. Been a little disappointed.
Yeah, I want to get in on that. Those are four great tournaments that I haven't played in, I guess a couple of them the first year. I really have not been involved. I would love to get in on it.

Q. Obviously this place is special to you for a lot of different reasons and there's speculation about what could happen here with Mercedes and the tournament being moved. Just your thoughts on the potential of it staying, leaving?
DAVIS LOVE III: We all want it to stay here. There's a few players that don't like coming here, but for the most part, this is a great place for us to come.
Whether it was the old format in November or the Mercedes, the people here is why we come back, Gary and Nancy and right on down the list. It's just a great spot. I have great fans here, because I've played here for a long time, but there are not a lot of them, but they really support this tournament. The volunteers, a lot of volunteers that we have seen forever and ever. I love coming here and I would hate to see it leave.
The only reason I could see it leave would be to go to the mainland somewhere or maybe you could pick up a player or two that they are looking for, like having it in Orlando or San Diego; Torrey Pines (laughter). You could pick up a player or two, but you're not going to change your field by going to another course in Hawaii. It's not going to change your field.
This place is going to give you the best -- this group of people around this tournament are going to be the best hospitality, one of the best on TOUR. It's definitely a reason why a lot of us love it so much. And why Rory Sabbatini is here; he's not in the tournament, and Billy Andrade, and so many of my peer group. They come here on vacation, because it's nice, but because of Gary and Nancy and everybody they have met here. It would be sad to leave here.
Like Denver, they took such great care of us. Didn't matter if it was hilly and tricky greens. We loved going there because of the people and they took such great care of us and we hated to leave. The Vickers took such great care of us and we would hate to leave here. It would be sad for a lot of the guys. Not everybody loved playing but the majority of them do.

Q. Was there ever a fear about snowboarding for you?
DAVIS LOVE III: You know what, the last three days is the worst it's hurt in the last two months. The only thing that really bothers it is torquing it, and that's what they warned me about coming back too soon. I'm worried about snowboarding, but not because of my ankle, all of the reasons you should be worried about snowboarding. I'm reasonably careful.
But my legs are strong. I had zero problem walking this golf course today. I think because of, one, getting in shape for my ankle, and two, getting back in shape to get on the mountain.
My trainer and therapist said, "You are ready to go." There's no reason, with your ankle not to do anything you want to do.
I can't run yet -- I couldn't run very good before (laughter). But I can't go running. I have to do elliptical or something low impact, because I don't need the jarring on that joint, because that was what was so bad that jarred so bad out of place, is the in-between. It's not really the outside that gets sore. It's more the joint that gets sore. So I don't need the impact. Other than that, it's pretty good.

Q. When did you step in the hole? How did you damage it?
DAVIS LOVE III: The end of September. A year ago October 2, was my surgery.

Q. When you came back at AT&T last year, you were reflective on how maybe you had been an under-achiever; even your mom told you, you were an under-achiever. Pretty tough when your mom told you that.
DAVIS LOVE III: She thought I should have shot 6-under today (laughter). She was out there watching.

Q. Is it good to know with the 20 wins now, how do you look at that whole scenario?
DAVIS LOVE III: Just ready to go again. Just looking forward to building on it and working hard and staying competitive.
Somebody, I guess in the Pro-Am yesterday, said, The way you are hitting it, you could play out here for ten more years.
I said, Yeah, exactly. That's what I want to do. I want to stay on this TOUR competitive longer than anybody of my generation. I want to keep on playing.
And if I keep doing the little -- like I said, if I keep doing the little things that I'm doing, and keep the short game, I think that's really the only thing that's probably going to stop any long hitter is if their short game goes. If I can work on the wedge game and work on my putting, and keep doing, which I'm going to go do when I get done, I'm going to go back out and do my putting drills, as long as I can keep after that...
It's easy to say, as long as you can keep making putts, you can stay competitive, and that's what I've got to do.

Q. What's your thoughts on the fact that your mother walked more holes today than Alex Miceli did all year?
DAVIS LOVE III: Than my wife and my sister (laughter).

Q. Did you watch?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, she got a lot of rides.

Q. How old is your mom?

Q. Is it fun to have her out?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. We were trying to just -- stay right there, we'll play a couple of holes and we'll come back. But she would be right there with the microphone guy.

Q. How often does she get out on the course every year?
DAVIS LOVE III: She comes to a fair amount, like the father-son. She likes the close ones. She always liked coming to Kapalua, so it's nice to have her out.
DOUG MILNE: If you can run through your birdies and bogeys, please.
DAVIS LOVE III: 2, I hit a 4-iron to about 25 feet and made it for birdie.
Then 4, I drove it actually in the right fairway bunker, which I had never done before. I hit an 8-iron up on the hill and rolled it back down to about five feet.
5, a driver and a 3-wood to the back of the green and putted it down about four feet and made that.
And 7, a drive and a pitching wedge to about 25 feet.
11, I hit a 9-iron in the front bunker, a pretty good bunker shot and missed about a 4- or 5-footer.
13, hit a 3-wood up to the right in the hay and had to take an unplayable. Hit it on the green and 2-putted for a bogey.
Then 14, I hit 3-wood off the tee and 70 yards with a 60-degree wedge to about 15 feet.
18, driver and 4-iron right of the green and chipped it down there a couple of feet.

Q. What was that putt you made, you said you made a pretty good par putt early?
DAVIS LOVE III: First hole. I hit it short of the green and chipped it to about ten feet short and made a nice 10-footer.
DOUG MILNE: Good playing, thank you.

End of FastScripts

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