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November 11, 2009

Davis Love III


MARK STEVENS: Okay. I'd like to welcome back our defending champion of the Children's Miracle Network Classic, Davis Love III. Davis, you just got done playing. If you'd talk a little bit about the course and also your thoughts about coming back a year later to defend your title.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm not done. I'm just making the turn from the Palm to the Mag.
No, I'm excited to be back. It's always fun to come to this tournament and always fun to play these golf courses I've been playing for a long, long time.
You know, it's hard to believe it's the end of the year. It's hard to believe it's been a year since I won, and hard to believe I didn't win again, but excited about this week and excited about 2010, already making plans and getting ready.
So this is kind of the start of -- I had a couple weeks -- well, I had one -- played one quick tournament in Vegas since Turning Stone, so I haven't played much, and this is kind of getting me ready for next year, getting me fired up for next year, so looking forward to the week.
MARK STEVENS: Questions?

Q. If I recall correctly last year, Davis, you became the all-time was it the leading money winner at this tournament, first time you broke through. Why have you played so well here? Is it something about the courses, the time of year, the relaxation you feel in this area or what?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've played here more than Tiger. (Laughs). So that helps, yeah. More starts. And I'm older.
But no, like I said before, I always enjoy playing here. I've played here a lot, you know. Several people have commented, you know, why -- I came early this morning. They said, why wouldn't you get down there earlier? I said, because it's not going to change.
You know, I can practice at Sea Island with my teachers like I did last year and drive down there and play nine on each course, and they're not really -- now, over the years, yes, they've changed a little bit in length. But you know, the golf courses are still -- the greens are really, really nice, and they're very similar to what we have at home, so I was in no rush.
But I just enjoy playing here, and I've done well here and a lot of good memories, and you know, it's a tournament I've played since I guess my first year on TOUR, so I'm used to it.

Q. Just wanted to look ahead to next year and get your thoughts on the grooves thing and how you think that will or won't affect the game and in what way and whether it brings more skill back into the equation or whether it's much adieu about nothing.
DAVIS LOVE III: I believe it's much adieu about nothing score wise, and you know, is it going to change the PGA TOUR, no, because Tiger Woods is still going to be really, really good and everybody's -- Phil Mickelson and everybody else is going to be trying to chase him.
You know, everybody has the same equipment. If they said, you know, the long hitters have to use this and the short hitters have to use this, then it would be something that would change the way the game's played, but is it going to be an adjustment, yes.
A lot of guys have started making that. This is my third start with the new groove, conforming groove, and I only had to change two wedges, so it's -- but I stole an extra thousand balls out of the Titleist box in the locker room because I'm hitting a lot of wedges today, and I hit a lot of wedges at Turning Stone, and I hit a lot at Vegas. Obviously not enough at Vegas because I didn't play good.
But I've really been working more on the wedge game, just to get used to them. But it's the same thing as, you know, Titleist saying, all right, here's the new ball that we're going to bring out next year. Maybe you guys want to get an early start with it, and you start at Vegas with it.
And you know, several times I've come out with a new ball or new set of irons and played well because, you know, you've spent some time, adjusted to it. It's a new toy.
These aren't going to be as much fun as a new ball, but it's going to be the same challenge of, all right, what kind of shot do I hit out of this situation, what out of that situation. And you know what, Vijay might have less spin on his ball, but he's still going to work really hard on his wedge game and he's still going to have every shot that he needs to play well. Will he have to play different shots? Yes. I'm not going to have to play as many different shots because I didn't spin it as much as Vijay with a wedge, so everybody's going to have to make an adjustment, but we will adjust.
Now, does the average guy when he has to play them have time to work on his wedge game that much and make those adjustments? I read something from I guess it was Frank Thomas recently, and he was critical of the way it was done and all that. But you know, it is. It's going to trickle down to the amateurs eventually and it's going to be harder for them to play, which I think we need to make it easier, speed it up and make it more fun.

Q. And less expensive.
DAVIS LOVE III: And less expensive. Especially now. Let's start with less expensive and then faster and then easier.
But you know, if you said, all right, we're going to go back to wooden drivers and we're going to go back to no-graphite shaft and we're going to go back to the old pro trajectory wound ball, it's going to make it less fun, and with the length of the golf courses, you know, it's going to be tough.
But anyway, the golf courses have gotten longer than we've gotten longer. The golf courses have gotten harder than we've gotten better. And that doesn't affect us because we all play the same course, so +5 wins the U.S. Open, +5 wins, but we're all playing the same course. But it affects the average guy because that length and that toughness of golf course doesn't make -- you know, makes it harder for the average guy than it does for us.
But anyway, it'll be a change, but it's not like you're going to watch something different next year. It's like watching Talladega with a tiny bit smaller restricter plate. To us fans it looked like the same race. It was just a little bit slower, but it looked like the same race.
It's going to look like the same race next year. You just might see one ball roll a little bit farther on a chip and it'll just be because a guy played a different shot.

Q. You didn't win the Talladega?
DAVIS LOVE III: I didn't go, because I was busy, but I'm thinking about going to Homestead and watching the 48 get his fourth championship.

Q. They were just showing on TV Payne Stewart. This was his last tournament in '99, and I was just curious, were you here? That could have been the last time you saw him.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm pretty sure I was here. Yeah, and then they were at -- TOUR Championship was the week after, I guess.
Yeah. It wasn't during a tournament I was playing because I was working on a golf course somewhere when we heard.
But yeah, I think I did play that week and see him, but yeah, it's hard to believe that's been 10 years.

Q. Is anybody building golf courses right now?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. Do you know anybody?

Q. No. Is anybody building a golf course at all that you know? Are there any under construction?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. There's a few. There's a few. Obviously we've got one that's getting ready to open in Mexico and then we're done, looks like for a while. We keep getting contacts and contracts to build them, but nobody's actually under construction with us right now. So it's a struggle.

Q. For everything, though, right?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. It's across the board. Everybody I talk to. I ran into Reese and Tom Fazio, and we talk to Gil Hanse all the time, and Crenshaw and Kite I ran into. Yeah. Nobody's doing a whole lot. It's tough.

Q. Kind of just redoes and touchups and extra tees is kind of what everybody's doing right now, isn't it? Changing existing courses?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. And we're looking for that for anything, you know, to keep the people that have traditionally worked for us and that we've kept busy, we're trying to get them stuff that they can do.
You know, we've got some people that are doing things under their own banner, you know, not under ours, but keeping some guys busy, and we're in the management business, so we're doing a little bit of that, more of that because banks are getting courses back, and people are trying to save money. So the management side of it's picking up, but the construction side is slowing down, or stopped.

Q. On a completely unrelated front, obviously the story line for a lot of the guys in the field this week is the Money List finality and all of that. But you know, there's still life after finishing outside the Top 125, quite a bit of it depending on who you are and the number of at-bats and letters you write and how many Pro-Ams you agree to play in and all those things. In broad-brush strokes, do you think there's enough finality to finishing outside the Top 125? And there's always been the protected species thing and once you're here, it's kind of hard to get kicked out of the club. Would more infusion of younger, fresher blood, or at least that opportunity be a good thing?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. You know, I just played nine with David Duval, and I'm playing with him this week, and he's 125, but I was thinking like when I came into the Fall Series last year at 125 on the Money List, there's a different kind of pressure, you know.
It's like, yeah, I know I gotta keep my card, and I know -- but I'm going to have a place to play a little bit. I'm not going to get to play Memorial or, you know, I'm not going to get in everywhere and I'm not going to get to pick my schedule, but I'll get in enough to at least have a shot without having to go to Q-School.
Now, there is a lot of finality, I've got a lot of friends -- I was just practicing with two of them yesterday at Sea Island -- that are going to Q-School because the last couple years they haven't finished in the 125, and then they didn't get back through Q-School, and in this in this economy aren't looking forward to going and looking for a job, and there's a lot of balls being hit by these two guys.
And we've got guys out here, friends that are bubbling that you know going forward aren't David Duvals with a big name and that can make a difference in a Pro-Am and make a difference to a sponsor, because David Duval's in a Pro-Am next year in January, those guys really don't know if he was 125 or 100 or 42nd. They're playing with David Duval. He won the British Open. You know, he was the best player in the world. Let's see how he's playing now. They're interested.
But there's some guys that are 125 to 140 that know this is their only shot. So there's a lot of good stories, and that's what's so interesting about this tournament, like Tommy last year, and those guys, all kinds of guys in all kinds of situations.
You know, we were saying there's all kinds of distractions. My distractions are it's the last tournament of the year. I haven't won. I'm defending. That's a pile of distractions that's going to get in the way of me playing well, and David's got a pile of distractions of I don't have any status left if I don't play good this week. So everybody's got their own distractions and their own Top 30 or get in the Masters or whatever it is.
So it's an interesting week. It's one of those weeks that, you know, Rotella or Morris Pickens or those guys say, you know, this is the week that you're going to get challenged of getting out of the present, and I think that's the one thing the fans kind of start to understand is, all right, this guy doesn't have a job if he doesn't play well. It gets a little more interesting through the whole field.

Q. David, this is one I'm directing to you because you're a veteran. Over the years sports cliches change, people say things differently. One thing I'm hearing a lot over the last year or two or three from younger players is committing totally to the shot, I didn't commit totally to that shot. Is that a concept that's been there all along or is that something that some sports psychologists have come up with lately that I wasn't 100 percent committed, I was only 90 percent committed and that's why the shot didn't come off.
DAVIS LOVE III: I think you're hearing it more because there's more players that are working with sports psychologists. You know, when I came out, there was Dr. Koup and Bob Rotella and now there's a whole bunch of guys doing it. There's guys like Morris Pickens who have come up under Bob Rotella and now have a whole group of players that they're working with, and almost -- you know, when I was in high school, my dad was just meeting Bob Rotella and couldn't figure out what this guy was all about. He was weird. He was talking about sports psychology.
My dad was old-school golf. You know, if you hit 400 three-footers, you make more three-footers. Rotella's like, no, if you're thinking right, you'll make more three-footers. It isn't a matter of how many you hit, and he couldn't figure it out.
And now teachers like Todd Anderson and the younger teachers that have come up with Rotella that's the first thing they do is make sure you're with Randy Myers and you're strong enough and fit enough, make sure you're with Morris Pickens or Bob Rotella and you're mentally sharp and then I'll fix the rest of you. I'll fix the swing. But you have to do all of it to compete.
And these young guys, like a Rickie Fowler or Drew Love, they grew up in an era of sports psychology and I have to do these things, so you're hearing it more and more because Nicklaus said -- the first time I ever read anything Jack Nicklaus said, he said, I hit every shot whether I was on the driving range, practice rounds or the U.S. Open, I played it the same way. If I wasn't focused on what I was doing, I didn't hit it.
And we were talking about that the other day don't just stand there and slap balls around the range. It doesn't do any good. You gotta be committed to what you're doing, and that's what they're talking about is the sports psychology that they've grown up with, and I think there's just more guys that understand it, more guys that do it.

Q. Okay. You said there are so many stories here, guys working so hard on their games, making Top 125 and winning again. How often do you guys brush up against the ultimate purpose of these tournaments, the charities like the Children's Miracle Network Classic or anywhere else? Over the course of the year how many times has that crossed your mind or your plate or whatever?
DAVIS LOVE III: The charity?

Q. Yes.
DAVIS LOVE III: Oh, just about every day, there's something -- Billy Schroder talking to me today about talking to the Children's Miracle Network board when I get done on Friday.
The TOUR, the sponsor, tournament director, Kevin, everybody's always saying, could you do this, could you do that? I signed a few things in the beginning when I registered for the charity. So it's -- you know, it's a big part of our culture, something we do every day.
Whether it's thanking the volunteer that was sitting out there on the tee for all day watching us come through and you're like, why does that poor person have to sit here when guys are whizzing by on their cart and hitting one ball and there's no gallery and you thank them for supporting the tournament because they're the ones that get the money for the charity. So I think most players, especially after you've been out here a while, they think about it every day.

Q. Do you have any concern about the TOUR contracting or maybe being fewer playing opportunities with loss of tournaments? And just look at the Top 125 this year, it's $225,000 less than it was last year, which is an eye-opener for a lot of guys. But do you think that's -- do you think there's reason to be concerned there?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think that's just the money all got piled up somewhere else. We played for 500,000 less than we figured we were going to play for this year. So you know, we didn't contract the money. I think it's just -- it got distributed differently because we didn't -- we've gone up every year, purse wise, so we haven't lost.

Q. You have fewer player opportunities for the rank and file. You're losing tournaments. Pebble Beach is shrinking its field. You have a lot of limited fields.
DAVIS LOVE III: We haven't lost any yet. Now, we might lose with Pebble next year, but we actually -- well, we lost Ginn this year.

Q. Lost Milwaukee.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, this year. I'm just trying to do the math real quick on why it would be $200,000 less.

Q. (No microphone).
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yeah. That's a rainout. Doesn't have anything to do with the economy, though.

Q. Tiger Woods played a whole season and won 10 million bucks. (Indiscernible).
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. That's what I mean. I think a lot of guys won a lot of money and didn't get to spread it out. But yeah, what we keep coming back to as the board is we haven't lost anything out of the FedEx season yet. We're gaining sponsors. As we lose them, we've gained them. We've replaced some. Now, we have some holes that are going to be hard to plug after next year. I think it's going to get tough, unless the economy turns around.
You know, the playing opportunities for the top guys is easy. The playing opportunities for the bottom guys is what -- the guys going through the Q-School, you know, this year will probably be a little bit tougher. Next year is an unknown. You know, after next year.
But you know, there's still possibility for a couple other fall events that are in the works, but it's a struggle. Like every golf course design, every business you want to talk about is struggling, shrinking, saving money. There's going to be a lot of hard looks at the budget. We have a player-director kind of summit in December that we're all going to sit down with Tim and try to figure out what are we going to have to focus on the next few years. But it's going to be tough.
But what we gotta realize is we're awfully lucky. We got a lot of great tournaments. We have plenty of places to play. TV numbers are still pretty good. If we can help our TV partners sell their ads and stuff, keep them happy this year and next year, you know, we've hit a home run. I think we did -- they did, the TOUR did a great job this year surviving. You know, if we can hit the projections for next year and survive another year, you know, we're lucky.
But it would be -- it would be arrogant to think that we couldn't -- that we wouldn't lose something. You know, when so many companies are going bankrupt, and we depend on advertising. We depend on the economy. So I think we're -- overall, we've done an incredible job.
I mean it's like Sea Island just announced they won the Five Star Five Diamond Award two straight years, cutting staff, losing business. You know, things are tough, and that's -- I think that's where the TOUR is. You know, they're giving money to charity. The tournaments are surviving. The players have a place to play and putting out a good product and TV numbers are pretty good. I think we're doing great in a bad economy, but will we shrink, that's to be seen, but a lot of people said we were too big when we were running good, you know. So I don't know.
You know, the Champions Tour is a little bit tougher than our TOUR. The LPGA is even tougher because there's just so many dollars to go around, and then when congress and Washington say it's bad to advertise golf, it makes it tough. Advertise in a football stadium or whatever. So when the economy turns and the attitude turns around and the companies open up a little bit.
But you know, we got a lot of great tournaments, like Hilton Head that'll -- you know, we need a sponsor there, but we'll get one at Hilton Head. We'll get one at San Diego. But the tough ones are going to be the Milwaukees, and the ones that were already on edge and struggling. We're going to have to work harder on them. Renos, and places that for five years have had a tough time, even in the good economy.
And you know, we can strengthen the Nationwide through this and strengthen our schedule and have strong tournaments every week, and you know, the top players only play 22 or 3 times, and those tournaments are stronger than ever, and then the next 10 are probably really good, and it's the last 10 we have to work on.

Q. Just to follow up on what you said earlier, after the win last year, I'm sure your expectations for this year were pretty high going into this year. (Indiscernible).
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yeah. And I said it earlier, I think to The Golf Channel. I remember, but most people don't remember, I was playing bad before I got hurt and then had to come back from both of them, and so to win at the end of last year after making a comeback was a big step, and then to actually improve just about everything this year, except for winning was another big step. I was more competitive. I didn't have a chance really -- a really good chance to win all last year until right at the end, until the last -- maybe two of the last six in the fall.
This year I had a lot of chances where, you know, I was a birdie here, a birdie there, rather than a bogey and I'd have had a chance to win in the last nine holes. You know, started out the year right with Kapalua with a chance to win and had some really good chances Memorial and where I got my name up there on the leaderboard and had some chances and felt like I played well enough to have a chance to win.
So I made some improvements, and statistically there's still some holes that we've identified, but it isn't that I didn't feel like I had a chance. This year I felt like I had a chance, you know, and now I'm excited about, all right, I gotta plug this hole and that hole rather than finding my game, you know, and getting my confidence back and things like that.
I got my confidence back. I feel like I can play. I got actually in the FedEx tournaments and played some of them. And you know, I wore myself out a little bit at the end of the year because I had a lot of confidence and I played too much, but at least I played the full season and had some chances and made some progress.
I didn't make any progress in world rankings, but everything else, I felt like I did. So I'm still building on last year's win. Unfortunately it's a year away, but whether -- I said it last year. Whether I won that tournament or not, I was improving, I was getting better, and I still feel like I'm getting better. And you know, 21 or 23 or -- the number doesn't really matter how many wins. It's just getting back to where I'm competitive, and you know, getting back in the big tournaments, getting back in the Masters and U.S. Open and being competitive in those.
And I had a great time at the British Open, and I feel like I can still compete, so I'm still trying to improve and build and get into my sports psychology, do the little things just to keep getting better, because I don't want to be -- you know, I want to be competitive week in and week out, not just a win here and a win there. I want to get back to feeling like every week when I show up, I have a chance to win.

Q. One last one on the grooves thing, I don't know exactly how long the U-grooves as they're currently configured have been around however many years, but would an older guy like yourself who predates them and played with these sets that are sort of now coming back into vogue have any type of advantage in terms of familiarity? And how old would you have to be to where you had never played with anything but U-grooves? I mean if you're 30 years old, have you ever used the other ones?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I played with all V-grooves. So I don't know when the Ping U-groove was -- when it first started, when everybody could play squares. I don't know when that -- it's been at least 20 years, though, right? Yeah, I think it has been. Yeah, because the whole lawsuit was -- I think it's been 20. It's been a long time. But yeah, guys that played all V-grooves have an easier transition.
And I, until recently, maybe the last couple years, I never had a square groove. Larry Balker [sp.] was specially making me a sand wedge and a 60-degree and a 55-degree wedge out of old forgings so I could get a V-groove, so I didn't have to use -- obviously Vokey's wedges are great, but they all had square grooves and I didn't want them because I spin it too much already. And then when Vokey figured out a way to take the spin mill off the face and shallowed the groove out for me, so he was taking 20 or 30% of the spin off when he gave me his wedge. So if you're going to lose 30 or 40% of your spin, some guys are, I'm already there. I mean I'm already 20% there.
So I actually have Spin Milled Vokey the new groove, like everybody basically has gotten the same face, the same club, because I got my two wedges -- that's the bad thing about this whole deal is Titleist goes, here's your wedges for next year. Like when I ordered a wedge for last year Vokey would give me three. I didn't ask for three. I asked for one, they gave me three. Well, here's -- maybe you don't like that one. Maybe you like this one better. Then you got a backup. Now they give me one 60 and one 55, said good luck.

Q. (Indiscernible).
DAVIS LOVE III: Because they don't have them. Like Mizuno -- they just -- was it Mizuno? Somebody, I think it was Mizuno just got them. I mean they haven't had them like for two years and guys have been getting used to them.

Q. They're just now sending them out.
DAVIS LOVE III: And you know what, Davis Love gets his wedges one of the first three or four guys. There's still guys way down the list on other tours that are still waiting because they made sure everybody else got theirs first, and I remember -- it was either Turning Stone or Vegas, one of the two, I said, let's just say I wanted five of each to experiment with, what would you say? They said, you're going to have to wait.

Q. When did you get yours?
DAVIS LOVE III: I got them maybe two weeks before -- like during the PLAYOFFS, sometime in there. Like maybe two weeks before Turning Stone, and I practiced a little bit with them and then took them there and played.

Q. (Indiscernible).
DAVIS LOVE III: No. Just because the bottom. Now, spin rate, if they did it by, okay, your wedge can only spin it this much, they might be close, but they do it by configuration. No.
But I've got some, like the wedge I won the PGA with, yeah, I could bring it out and it would probably conform because it was an old groove. And all my irons conform, so I was trying to get them to make me a wedge just like my 680 blades.

Q. You've used basically V-groove as a regular set forever.
DAVIS LOVE III: I was close. Yeah. Like if you gave me the Bob Vokey Spin Milled wedge out of the trailer and told me to go play with it, I'd struggle, because it would spin it too much. Like at Pebble or Memorial, places like that. Now, you know, Vegas, dry and hard, it would work pretty good. But I'm a high-spin, high-launch, back-it-off-the-green guy already, so I didn't need the Spin Milled.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Davis, thanks a lot. I know you gotta run and beat the darkness. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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