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February 5, 2009

Davis Love III


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Davis Love III into the interview room at the Buick Invitational after a 6-under 66. Davis, that's great playing out there. If we can just get some comments on your day.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, obviously a good start, tough wind and a little cooler than we're used to. But I'm sure it's tougher on the South Course. So it was a good start, and I putted well. They did something to the greens from Tuesday when I played a practice round. They were much smoother and you could make some putts today. They were more like the South Course.
Just holed a few putts and took advantage of the par-5s, which was nice. Some of them were into the wind, but I took advantage of my opportunities and only made one bogey. So a good start.
JOHN BUSH: You were a winner here in 1996, and you've had a lot of really good starts at this tournament. Talk about your comfort level at Torrey Pines.
DAVIS LOVE III: I love playing here. The schedule has kept me from it a few times because I've been lucky enough to play well at La Costa and Pebble, as well, and Hawai'i. So I've mixed it up a little bit on the West Coast. But I've always enjoyed playing Torrey.
I've always enjoyed being here and being close to Titleist. We get a lot of good practice in. I got a good couple days of practice Monday and Tuesday, and I always feel comfortable coming here. It's a beautiful place, obviously, but it's a great golf course and it's been good to me.

Q. With the weather not expected to get any better the rest of the week, do you feel like it was an advantage to play the North today and put up a number? There might not be a lot of good ones out there the rest of the weekend.
DAVIS LOVE III: It's going to be harder like today with the wind if it's cold and rainy on either course. But it is nice to get off to a good start no matter what. It doesn't really -- you don't really pay much attention to the leaderboard until you go to Friday night when everybody has played both courses.
But it is nice to get off to a good start. Who knows, maybe tomorrow it might even be better to be on an easier course if it's really nasty. But it's going to be tough either way. I think the average is always lower on the North, so you've got to take advantage of it when you get out there.

Q. When was the last time you felt this good physically? I haven't heard you talk about any aches and pains or nicks and dings, and you managed to not hurt yourself on your ski trip with your agent.
DAVIS LOVE III: I just don't talk about it as much as I used to. I feel good. I saw Greg Rose up at TPI the other day, and he said, "You're getting better." I still have to work at it, but I'm getting over my injury and feeling better. You know, as I said out there on The Golf Channel, you don't know what comes first, the chicken or the egg, but I'm gaining confidence. I've been saying for years I'm not far from playing well, but I think I'm getting there, putting in the right kind of work. I'm excited about the year. I finished off last year well and am excited about this year.

Q. Are you close do you feel like you are now to what you were, say, in your prime?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know.

Q. Physically and mentally.
DAVIS LOVE III: Physically I'm pretty good. I was thinking about that today. I was watching Freddie bend over to pick up a putt on the putting green this morning. Physically I've played well in a lot worse shape. I think physically I'm better. It may not 100 percent always affect your game whether you're feeling good or bad, but it certainly is nice not to have to go lay down when I get done playing because my back is hurting.
Yeah, I'm 80 or 90 percent there, where I want to be physically, to play golf. They worked on my ankle just a little bit in the fitness truck last night, and like I said, Greg Rose worked on it a little bit, and I've still got a ways to go. But at 44 years old, you're going to have to work at it to stay healthy and to keep up with these guys. They're young and strong and hitting it a long way. I've got to keep up.

Q. How about the mental side of the game, the ability to concentrate?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I'm still working on that. I'm still learning, still working with Bob Rotella and still trying to do the same -- it's not really changing anything, just trying to get better at what you know works. Today I was really into my routine and really into the process, and I scrambled around like the last couple holes, had really long putts that I putted up real close to the hole and then easy two-putts from a long way away -- well, actually the last three holes, and made some good chips and some nice saves. So I scored well. I think that's the difference. I'm practicing my short game more, I'm practicing my routines more, and I'm able to score more.
That's the thing that I've got to continue to get better at. I watch the guys that are practicing around Sea Island with Morris Pickens, Zach Johnson and guys like that, that are spending so much time on their short game, and I'm really learning how better to work on my short game, how to spend more time on it, because it's where I can make an improvement still. I'm not going to hit it much farther. I'm hitting it a long way. I've just got to work on my short game and take advantage of my length.

Q. I know it's hard to tell on a Thursday morning, but did you notice any difference in the crowds because of the economy or the weather or the lack of Tiger here so far?
DAVIS LOVE III: Actually today was the best crowd yet of the year. Obviously I played in Hawai'i, which is a little tough to walk at Kapalua, and we had bad weather on Sunday. But it seemed pretty good today. It spreads it all out. But no, we're all going to be hurting with the economy, but it seemed like a pretty good crowd out there today. They were excited that Aaron and I were both making some birdies, so it was fun.

Q. Do you find yourself looking at where you stand in the World Ranking every week as it relates to getting in the Masters, or do you just take the attitude that I play the best I can and we'll see where it falls?
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm trying to take the attitude play the best I can, and then my buddy and manager Mac Barnhardt, we went snowboarding all last week, and he sent me a text message on Monday that said, "nice snowboarding, you moved up two spots." I said, "Can I go back snowboarding since I'm moving up two spots?" But I'm watching it and I'm trying -- when I'm going to play, I'm going to play. A lot going on, and obviously on and off the golf course these days with rankings and getting in tournaments.
We had all these meetings the last couple days, player meetings with the economy, and there's so much going on. When I get on the golf course, all I can do, the only thing I can do, is just take care of my golf ball and play the game and play one shot at a time and everything else will take care of itself. It's hard not to watch it, but I know that if I continue to do the things I'm doing, the ranking will keep continuing to improve, and I'm just going out and trying to play to win and not play to try to get 58th to get in the Match Play. Obviously 50 is kind of a magical number these days, but 30 takes care of 50, so I just keep trying to work my way up.

Q. You had a lot of brass from Ponte Vedra out here for the meeting this week with Tim and Rick and all those guys. What was kind of the thrust of what you were talking about relating to the economy and those types of things, or was this a regularly scheduled day?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, I think what they're trying to stress to us is that although we work real hard at taking care of our sponsors and pro-am players and we do a good job most of the time, we need to make sure that we're not making any mistakes, that we're doing a better job with the sponsors and the pro-ams and taking care of media requests, whatever we can do to do our part to continue our success.
Tim wanted to squash a lot of the rumors that we're losing tournaments and things like that. He said, "Look, we're set for this year, and we're going to have to work really hard to keep it that way." But he wanted to reassure us and also at the same time motivate us to continue to do a good job and not have any issues this year.
The big thing was with Lance Barrow, he came and spoke and said what can we do to help TV do their job, what can we do to help the media tell our story, and we just -- it's like the old Arnold Palmer, you guys should be doing a better job taking care of your blessings and your game. So that was basically the message.
It came across real well. Aaron and I both came out of the scoring trailer saying, "All right, we've got to go do our part," and that's what it's all about is following in Arnold's footsteps and doing the right things and continuing our good fortune because it's been very, very good out here for a long time, and we're going to have to work hard to keep it that way.

Q. There was a lot of good things that came along in Tiger's absence. We saw the emergence of a lot of young players and Harrington won two majors. How much do you think the game needs Tiger back, and how important do you think that is?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it's the same as we need Fred Couples back on top or Greg Norman or Nick Price or Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer. We've always had the guy. It's okay if they kind of fade away because somebody takes their place. But when he gets hurt, it would be like Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky in their prime taking a season off. It would take the air out of the ball.
But it really has given a lot of guys an opportunity, people come out and say -- I saw two or three little kids today in Tiger Woods hats watching us make birdies, and they'll say, "These guys make birdies, too." So it's good for the game for people to realize there's a lot of great golfers out here, and Tiger has to have somebody to compete against.
But we miss him mostly as a friend. You know, I haven't seen him in, what, seven months or more. We want him back out. It'll be interesting the first couple weeks obviously, but then it'll be back to normal. We can survive without him, but we'll do much better if he'd come out and play. We can't wait to have him back.
JOHN BUSH: Davis, thanks for coming by, and keep it going the next three days.

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