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March 25, 2010

Davis Love III


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome our co-leader, Davis Love III, after a 6-under par 66. Davis, quite a roller coaster, bogey on No. 1, and then 6-under on your next five holes. Quite a day out there for you. If we can just get some comments.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it was entertaining. I don't know if you've seen Daniel Chopra do a scorecard but he's got one of those pens with four different colors and I had all kind of colors all over my scorecard. It was very pretty.
Yeah, I didn't get off to a good start on the first hole but I was real patient. I got a couple chip-ins which I had not got one yet this year and I got two in three holes. Then holed a couple of nice putts and hit a lot of good, solid shots and a lot of good, solid putts.
You know, could have gone a lot of different ways. I made, like I said a couple chip-ins and a long putt on 17, or if I had not buried it in the bunkers a couple of times and gotten another funky lie in the bunker, I would have been even better. It's one of those days that could have gone either way. As I said, hit a lot of good shots and a lot of good drives and kept in play and kept myself either chipping or putting for birdie all day.

Q. On the hole-outs, on 2, 3 and 5, can you describe the lies?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, 2, I hit just in the front of the green and somehow stopped in the it front fringe, so I had a big, you know, 40- or 50-foot chip breaking, which seeing Trevor's laying there and do a turnaround and almost made a hole-in-one. I played it way out to the right and got lucky and went in. Made a nice like 10-footer at 3.
Then 4, I hit a hybrid just left of the green and had, not a difficult pitch, but one I just had to land on front of the green and it would run right up to the hole and it ran up there and went in. That was, I don't know, probably 20 yards maybe.
And then the next hole, I was just putting out of the fringe from about 18 feet, just off the green.

Q. What did you hit on 6? That looked like a pretty close look at eagle?
DAVIS LOVE III: I hit a 4-iron in there 15 feet and hit a good putt that didn't go in.
But I hit a lot of good, solid putts. Even the next hole, I hit my 7-iron a little heavy and buried it in the bunker, and hit a great bunker shot about eight or ten feet and hit a good putt. It just didn't go in.
I hit a lot -- I think, actually, No. 8, I didn't hit a good birdie putt, but pretty much every hole, I felt like I hit a good, solid putt that had a chance to go in. That's what you want to do is just keep having birdie putts and keep giving yourself a chance. I made a nice one on 12, and obviously a nice one at 17 and a good up-and-down at 16 from just over the green, and then a real good up-and-down at 18.
So it was a good chipping and putting day, for sure.

Q. The ball there on 17, did you think you had the bunker cleared on that one?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was trying to hit my five a little easy. That's kind of why I leaked it I think a little bit. I didn't want to fly it all the way to the hole and have it go over the green.
The greens are pretty firm in spots. That one kind of hit in a soft spot, but they are pretty firm and if you fly it on those downwind holes, like we did at 18; you get it going downwind and fly it to the back of the green, they are not going to stop.
But no, I wasn't concerned. I was concerned with how far right it was, just not getting over.

Q. You played here a lot. Can you talk about the evolution of the golf course and the changes this year?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's changed. Obviously Arnold has done a lot of changes, like to the par 5s, over the years.
But I think this time, he kind of went for a different, you know, style, a different strategy around the greens with all of the nice chipping areas. It's not deep rough around every green. He obviously wanted the bunkers to be a penalty and not the rough around the greens. (Laughter).
I like what he did. He capable out there when I was in the practice round and he was showing Tim Finchem around and we talked about it a little bit. I really like it. I think it's a much more creative way to play golf, rather than having deep rough in the fairways and deep rough around every green and every shot is, you know, a lob shot.
I stood there at No. 4 today, and I said, you know, I could put this, or I could chip-and-run it up the hill, or I could hit my sand wedge and lob it on the green.
You know, last year, it would have been just hacking it out of the rough, trying to get it up on the green. So I think it's a great way to play, and it's a great style for the fans. I think it's more fun to watch.

Q. As a golf course architect, is that pretty much an A+ when you can sit and look at a chip and see that you have it three different ways?
DAVIS LOVE III: I like to see a lot more variety. When you play a tournament and every time you miss a fairway or every time you miss a green, the caddie hands you a 60-degree wedge because it's six inches deep and that's nothing else you can do.
I like a variety of shots. You know, the bunkers are tough, but you get a variety of shots in there, too. You get some that are buried, some are half-buried, some are easy. I had an easy bunker shot at 16. So I like that. I like a variety.
He obviously went for a more Augusta-style of play, rather than a U.S. Open-style of play they kind of got to a few times around here where the greens are really hard and rough is really deep. If it didn't rain, this course played, you know, fairly tough and long.
But I like what he did. I think it's good.

Q. So far this season, there was nothing really coming into this event to suggest a day like this. Was it overdue? Were you expecting it or surprised?
DAVIS LOVE III: I played real well in Hawaii and came back, and I had been in Idaho for three weeks swinging in the mirror and hitting balls in a net and came out in Hawaii and I played great. And so now, if I work on my game, I'll really be in good shape. And then I started trying too hard, what I usually do. You know, tried to fix the two or three little things that didn't work in Hawaii and I kind of went backwards and really got bound up in my mechanics and the mechanics of my -- somebody asked me at Honda, "You've been putting for three hours, what are you doing? You never do that."
I'm like, "You're right, why am I doing this." I realized I was working too hard, instead of finishing fifth to try to win, and I went backwards for a while. I needed a break and it was nice to take a couple of weeks off since I didn't get in the CA tournament. I took some time off and came back with a fresher attitude that I'm going to play and quit trying so hard. After the first hole, I did a good job of that.

Q. You mentioned -- I spoke to Randy earlier and he said that snowboarding has helped your golf game and it's got more fit. What do you think about that?
DAVIS LOVE III: He's right. The hardest I've worked out is when I've been snowboarding. I work out while I'm on the mountain all day, and then I either go to the gym or hit balls in the net every night. I have a much better routine when I'm home. I have got so much going on at home; when I see Randy out here, I do a better job. At home, I've been a little lazy.
So I need to -- Randy and I talked about it this week. I need to be a little more consistent week-to-week-to-week and stay in shape. But I come out with a lot of energy, because had a week off mentally, two weeks off mentally, and I had physical activity every day. I'm like excited and ready to go, because I feel good.
So I'm a little sore from hitting balls the last four days, just because it's different than hitting a few in the net and swinging in the mirror but I feel good. Randy is good for me. He pushes me and he's going to have to push me the next five or ten years to keep me going.

Q. Is the snowboarding good enough that you'll be in the x games pretty soon?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I keep my board as close to the snow as possible. (Laughter).

Q. How much focus coming into this year or this week is getting back to Augusta?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it's always in the back of your mind, or the front of your mind. After the few weeks where I played kind of poorly, and I wasn't hitting it bad or really putting bad; I was just, you know, mentally kind of frazzled. I just said, you know, you're going to have to just go play the ones you get in and do the best job you can and quit worrying about everything else.
As soon as I play in good Hawaii, I'm thinking about making The Ryder Cup Team, you know. I'm off to a good start, you know. (Laughter) I've done it for 25 years, had one good week and then start trying too hard. Dr. Rotella told me a great quote about Duval one time, one of his buddies said, "Are you going to go practice putting?"
And he said, "I already know how to putt." You know what, I already know how to play golf. I just have to quit trying so hard and go out and play.
So that's my goal. Arnold let me play here; I get to play next week in Houston. I know I get to play at Hilton Head. I'm just going to play and be ready when I'm in and quit trying so hard to play for Corey rather than coach for Corey. I just have to get all of that out of my head; Augusta. I'm not in anything but the PGA really. But if I just go play golf and have fun, all the rest of it will take care of itself.

Q. This assistantship with The Ryder Cup, you referenced The Ryder Cup a minute ago, seems like kind of an audition or training-wheels session for you, you seem like a logical guy for two years down the road, given -- what are you, 44?
DAVIS LOVE III: 46, shortly.

Q. Oh, wow. Should have said yes, 44. Is that fair to say?
DAVIS LOVE III: I would hope so.

Q. Are you looking at this as an audition type of thing, get your feet wet and see how it goes?
DAVIS LOVE III: I hope so. Tom was captain and Corey was his assistant and Corey said he learned a lot. Corey said, you may be captain one day, I would like for you to help me and I would like for you to learn how to do it.
I'm excited about it. I've got a lot of friends over there at the PGA of America that we have all come up together from Julius Masons and everybody, really, that's run The Ryder Cup. Joe Steranka, I remember when he first started with the PGA of America.
So it's going to be a lot of fun for Robin and I to be a part of it. Obviously, I'd like to keep shooting 66s and make the team. If I don't, I still get to go. So it's a pretty good deal.
You know, the next week is our tournament at Sea Island, so it was a tough call for me to make. I couldn't even tell Corey for a while that, you know, we are getting ready to announce the tournament right after he announced his Ryder Cup.
So, I don't know. It's going to be a hectic month, but hopefully I'm playing in both.

Q. Does Corey have you doing anything now?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, a few things. Obviously the biggest thing for Paul and I is to watch the guys out here and get to know who they are. Kind of keep an eye on the guys that he might have to pick down the road, get a feel for who is who. I don't know Dustin Johnson that well, so I've gotten to play one practice round with him, be around him some with Randy in the gym. I need to get to know Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler a little bit better, so when we get there, Corey can go, tell me about Rickie Fowler, who would he play this. That's part of my role. Tom and Corey are experience with the captains and all that. I think Paul and I can keep an eye on the guys out here.
Until it starts, play good and keep an eye on the guys, how they are playing. But till we get through the majors, it probably isn't quite as important. But it is good to get to know Ricky Barnes and Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson and all of the guys I don't really know that well.

Q. What constitutes trying too hard? Is it more than practicing too long? Is it pressing?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, quickly, at Hawaii, I didn't make anything from five feet to 15 feet. So I found that out. That's the problem. I analyzed why I didn't win, and went to work on it.
Then it you start missing the ones inside of five feet, because you're working on your stroke to fix the 10-footers and then you sort start working on your swing to hit it closer. It's just the same ball of wax we always get into. We are not making enough three pointers; so let's go practice three pointers until we wear ourselves out, and then we can't -- we are too tired to shoot them.
That's basically what I was doing was putting and putting and putting and trying too hard to fix something. I lipped them out, and I just -- my advice to my son all the time is keep doing what your teachers tell you and keep making progress. I get away from that. I try to do too much.
You know, I hit too many balls or putt for too long or get into the mechanics, and it's tempting. You just want to try to get better. Sometimes getting better means to, you know, just listen to your coaches and don't try to do too much.

Q. The five-hole stretch when you were 6-under, do you realize that's taking place when it was, and how do you explain a stretch like that?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you know that you can have good stretches and bad stretches, and you've got to be patient. Every hole I just went to the next hole trying to get my target and into the process. It's easy when it's going good. It's when you're buried in the bunker at 7, you've got to go back and start over again. You've had a great stretch and you've made a silly bogey, hit a bad shot, it's hard -- now I've got a tough drive at 8 and tough drive at 9. You've got to get back into it.
It's exciting when it's going good that way. Every chip I hit, every putt I hit was good. Other than that one 7-iron, and 3-wood off the first tee in the rough, it was a pretty incredible first nine.
So I've just been looking for that and trying to be patient and let it happen when it happens. You know, I shook off a couple bogeys today and came back from them. Just try to stick with the process.

Q. When you talk about trying too hard, is that something that you take off the golf course, too, you're laying in bed at night thinking about these things, as well?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, you sit back and worry about, oh, gosh, I'm 2-over and why am I 2-over; I should be 4-under and I should be swinging like this instead of like that.
Yeah, when you're going good, you just go home and figure out what you're going to eat and what you're going to watch on TV. But when you miss a couple of cuts in a row or you get into a bad streak, you start saying, I've got to fix it. And the biggest fix for me was to get away from the golf course and then come back and start over and do the things that I know how to do.
You know, I started off the year, going to do real good mentally, and challenge myself to do a good job, and I did it for one week (laughing). So now the challenge is to start back over. At least I know what I have to do to play well. If I can just keep doing it; I'm not going to shoot 6-under every day, but at least I'm going to have more fun and be in the game. I've just started every week, like Honda, a triple at the first hole, just started bad every week, a bogey here, a bogey there, next thing you know, you're 2-over and you're fighting. And it's just nice to be -- all I've got to do is patient and stay out of my own way and I'll be okay.
But you know what, I guarantee it: Half of the guys out here try too hard. It's not that they are not trying. You'll find very few guys that are not trying. I think the guys that are making mistakes are probably working too hard, trying too hard, they are on the range until dark and wearing themselves out playing. I heard one young guy say to me, well, this is seven in a row. Seven in a row? Already? (Laughter) That's just unbelievable.
So we definitely try too hard. That's the nature of anybody that wants to get good at something. It's hard to do what the sports psychologists say; turn your brain off and get into the process is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

Q. So was it the conversation at Honda, why are you spending three hours putting, is that when the light bulb went off?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, Rotella, we worked a lot Thursday and Friday, and then we had a long talk Sunday. I was still down there playing Seminole on Monday and we had a long talk about it.
He basically said, "What I want you to do is go work on your wedge game and your putting and your swing in the mirror, and don't do anything for a couple of weeks. Just get away. Just turn it off for a while."
Yeah, it's always -- you know, if I can just listen to him and keep it simple, you know, you can't have him in your head every day, you can't have him out here every day, but you need to learn. I think that's what Tiger does so well, is he does the same thing, every day, mentally, over and over and over again, and just wears out his process, and that's what I think the best players, Nicklaus or whoever; the guys that dominated are better at that than the guys that aren't. Just got to keep working at it, which is fun. That's the challenge out here is trying to block out all of the distractions and just go play the game.

Q. Just curious, the last three, four, five years, whenever you have missed a Masters or either of the two Opens, which one was the hardest to miss and was there any one you watched on TV or chose not to watch on TV?
DAVIS LOVE III: I tend to choose not to watch them because I go find something else to do. If I don't get in the Masters, I'll be doing a lot of turkey hunting and stuff with my kids that week and getting ready for Hilton Head.
I watch my friends play, you know. I watch more Champions Tour golf this year. (Laughter) Freddie's playing good, I've got to watch him. You know, if Justin Leonard or Lucas or whoever, one of my buddies is playing good, I tend to watch more.

Q. Which one do you hate to miss the most of those three?
DAVIS LOVE III: I would say the next one, which would be the Masters. That's the one I'll hate to miss the next. Luckily I've got qualifies for the other two, the qualifiers that are left for the Masters are tough.

Q. This is a tough qualifier this week?
DAVIS LOVE III: This is tough. So I'm excited for the challenge the next two weeks, and that will make me a more prepared player after I play after that, because obviously everything I said in here, I've got to go apply tomorrow, and the weekend.
JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by.

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