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February 8, 2011

Davis Love III


JOHN BUSH: Davis, 25 consecutive starts here at this tournament. What does that figure do for you when you hear it?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'm consistent. I've always enjoyed coming here. Great friends that I stay with and have done a lot for this community and influenced me to do great things for charity at home. The Griggs family with their support of the boys' and girls' club.
Just become a part of my year coming out here, not only to play, but to be a part of the Monday pro-am yesterday, to stay with Jim Griggs. You know, U.S. Open coming here is an added bonus.
At least I get one trip every year to spend at Pebble Beach and spend with a great friend and also get to play in a great tournament. It's a week I always look forward to, and one I hope I can continue to play in for a lot more years.
JOHN BUSH: Back on the your two wins, 2001 and 2003, anything stand out in those two wins?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, they're both really good finishes for me. I hit good shots into the last hole. You always like to play 18 at Pebble Beach the right way and win. Actually had a good birdie on the last hole of the U.S. Open after not playing 17 very well all week and having some trouble on 18 on Friday.
It was great the last day of a tournament to birdie the last hole at Pebble Beach and have it mean something. To have it mean a win both times was great. I'll never forget the 3-wood I hit in there. I guess the year Phil hit it in the ocean with a chance to win, it was exciting to knock a 3-wood on that green and make a birdie and win the tournament.
It's always fun to win anywhere, but especially at Pebble Beach.

Q. I'm just wondering how the short course played. It's been real dry here. Is it playing pretty firm? How are the greens?
DAVIS LOVE III: I would say firmer than I've ever seen it. The fairways are real tight there. If it dries up at all, the ball will run pretty good. The fairways are like the fringe, or like most places' greens. Really tight to the ground.
I know last year being a little bit damp it was really tough to chip off of because it wasn't firm and it was real tight. But it's in great shape. I guess they've got a couple greens that aren't good. Overall, firm and fast. Different than in the past where you just threw it at the pin every time.
You still some into-the-wind shots that will spin back, but definitely firmer than in the past.

Q. You've been Ryder Cup captain officially for about a month. Over the years, guys have said when they're still playing they're thinking about other guys' games and their games. In the tournaments you've played this year, have you been able to concentrate full on your game, or are you starting to think about other guys?
DAVIS LOVE III: Too early to think about what they're doing because they're trying to make the Presidents Cup team right now. I'm thinking more about my game than their game for sure.
But there are details that don't have anything to do with golf that will keep my busy thinking about the Ryder Cup. I'm not thinking about golf quite yet. I am sure there will be some guys I want to get to know because I think they'll make the team, that I want to get to know better.
I was lucky last year to get to know the Overtons and the Fowlers and the new guys better. I need to hang around Bubba Watson more just because it's fun. I need to get to know that category of guys a little bit better.
I'm lucky with the Stewart Cinks and the Zach Johnsons and those guys that I'm around them a lot. So that's one reason Corey picked me to be assistant captain. He didn't pick me because we were best friends and he wanted me to come hang out. He picked me because he knew that I knew the players that were going to be on the team and I could help them with that aspect. I'm lucky in that regard.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, yeah, we're just busier because we have the Presidents Cup to occupy the points. Our points don't really count except majors this year. Trust me, the PGA of America is thinking about it. They think about it every day.
I got two e-mails from Susan Martin today. So they're thinking about it and I'm thinking about it, but...
And I look back to when I was a player. If it wasn't a week to make points for one team, it was a week to make points for the other. Our guys are just trying to play to make Fred's team. When they get to the Masters they'll be trying to win the Masters. If they get points for the Ryder Cup team, that will be great.
The biggest thing I'm finding out are the congratulations are there every week. I just saw Paul Spangler. You see your friends at each different tournament, and they want to congratulate you.
Also there are the people that want to help out or be a supplier or give advice. So that's going to ramp up I think more and more. It's exciting, but I have to -- I'm going to have to change my personality a little bit, be a little bit more decisive and short with people just to get through it.
I can't deal with all the details now. There's a time for everything. Now is the time for me to play golf. I'm not playing three in a row to get ready for the Ryder Cup. I'm playing three in a row to win and make Freddy's team.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I had to answer two e-mails from Susan Martin today. You mean officially like -- decisions have to be made. You know, you have to work on schedules. I have a big meeting in March with the PGA of America to find out what the timeline for big decisions. Robin's already made decisions at the hotel, clubhouse. She's already asked for a list of things to start thinking about.
No, the details -- you know, everybody says, Why do they pick the captain so soon? Because there's a lot to get done. If you let this year go, you're going to be behind the eight ball. Sure, 20 years ago you could do it in six months. But now it's a big job. They just made a press announcement today.
I think he's like Paul and every captain that thinks I don't like the way the team is being selected. I'm going to figure out a way to help us win. That's what he's trying to do.
It's tough for them because their guys are playing all over the world. Their system that works now probably won't work in 10 years because something will change. Or tour may be different and their tour may be different and guys may be playing different places and the ranking systems -- you know, whoever thought there would be a FedEx points list or things would be structured the way they are?
So things can change over the next five or ten years. We may have to make another adjustment. I like they way it's set up for us now. And the way they have it set up, looks like they're gonna get who they want.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it's a lot. Guy wins a major a month before, he's probably playing pretty good. (Laughter.) Doesn't matter who it is. Yeah, I agree with you. You don't want one week to decide the outcome. But if it was a tour player that had been playing decent and then all of a sudden he got all his points that week, his confidence is up and he's ready to go.
Again, we haven't had that discussion. I have a big discussion with them in March about what I do and don't get to decide. They haven't told me that yet. So I'll find out if there are any -- I don't have any glaring things that I would want to change.
I've paid attention to the way it's fallen the last couple years, and obviously through the selection process with Corey, picking his four captain's picks. So I kind of like the way it all fell. But I haven't run that scenario yet, no.

Q. In your 25 years, what is the weirdest thing you ever seen from an amateur, from playing with them?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, Wayne Gretzky I think was probably the most telling of how nervous the amateurs get when he played with Mike Weir and we were in the last group and he didn't ever want to finish a hole. He would hit a pretty decent drive and go, I'll pick up? Pick up? Yeah, I'm out of the hole. I'm in the rough.
He was so nervous. You would think that one of the best athletes in the history of sports, even if he wasn't a good or great golfer, the nerves wouldn't be a factor for him. He was just how to -- and he was just as nervous as he could be. He didn't want to be in the way and didn't want to have to finish.
It showed that obviously there's a lot of pressure out there. We learn to deal with it. It comes almost naturally it us. For other star athletes, they get too nervous. That's how much pressure there is out there and how much attention we learn to deal with.
I'm sure, turn it around the other way, I couldn't skate up and down the ice very well with people watching. He's a pretty good golfer, and was just so nervous. He plays a lot of golf. Just to see a top athlete like that get that nervous -- he had fun, but he was just more nervous playing with Mike and I in the last group with a chance to win.
It took the fun out of it for him. They try so hard to make the cut, and then they go, Oh, wait a minute. I'm going to be playing with him on TV. Maybe I don't want to be here.
Some guys do well; some don't. It's is great week because you play with friends. I know Danny Sullivan to John Lennon from America Express so well because I got to experience three, four, five days of golf with them year after year. You make great friends, and you learn a lot about other sports and businesses, because you play with the top people in every business, every sport out here. It's pretty amazing.

Q. (Question regarding being nervous at Pebble Beach.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I think we get -- gradually, you know, like my son. He played in front of 10 people, then 20, then the western junior. You keep moving up. The first time at Pebble Beach in front of a big crowd, yeah, your nervous. You don't ever not get nervous, but you know how you're going to react and handle it.
To me, playing Pebble Beach without grandstands and people, it's strange because I don't ever do it. So it becomes your office and what you're used to. I think that's what we get good at, is learning how to deal with those things.
If the nervousness goes away, then something is wrong. You learn how to deal with it I think the best way.

Q. Talk about the garden variety CEO. How nervous do they get? And would it do them good to have a caddie that knew the lay of the land to help them out?
DAVIS LOVE III: They usually do have pretty good caddies. Yeah, they all get nervous. It's taking them out of their comfortable zone. They're used to playing at their home course or controlling the atmosphere at their country club.
And all of a sudden -- of even the member guest, you know, there's nobody watching. It's the pressure, cameras, they're not used to it.
Now, we can't get up in front of a thousand people and give a speech like those guys can and make it look easy, or run a board meeting. But I get a lot more nervous in front of the AT&T board having to make a presentation than I would on 18 green trying to hit a 4-iron into it.
They're competitive. Even the athletes, they're competitive. They want to try it. They want to get out here and see what they can do. Some of them think they're entertaining the fans, but most of 'em want to see if they can handle the pressure. See if they can make a putt on 17 at Pebble Beach when they know it's showing them on TV.
They enjoy being challenged by the game. I think that's why the game is so great. At any level, you can always find a place to challenge yourself. These guys take it to the level here, or at the Hope, because they want to see how they play with the pros and stack up.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I've never been able to figure it out. The players argue with me about it. I say, If you try to take Formula 1 and NASCAR and try to judge how one driver was against another and come up with a points system, you would never be able to figure it out. It's so different playing against different people, different countries.
I just don't think it's fair that even though we cross from one tour to another, that you can say that this tournament in Dubai is worth as many points as this one in Phoenix because they have this many points.
It's always harder over here. There's always a deeper field no matter what. So it's hard to compare the two tours and give a fair shake of points. Steve Stricker went over there last week and he took a bunch of points with him. Thomas Bjorn won a lot more points because Steve Stricker was over there. I just don't know if you can ever make that system work.
Now, is it the best system we have? Yeah. Is it perfect? No. So there always gonna be guys around 50 that don't like it. There will be guys in the top 10 that say, Well, I don't think that guy should be there. Relative, it's okay. I just wish it wasn't the whole, every tournament that we want to get into has some world ranking system that gets us in it. It's tough, because always hear complaints about it.
I don't know if there is a system that works other than, you know, everybody having to play the same tournaments. That's just never going to happen.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't have an answer for it because I've been on the board four times, and we can't ever figure out a system. I know for our tournaments on the U.S. tour, we ought to use all FedExCup points because that would make it pretty simple. Don't use world ranking points, and that would get more people focused on playing FedExCup tournaments.
And if our tournaments, the Masters and the U.S., use just FedEx points or Money, either one, to get into the World Golf Championships, then more guys would play more FedExCup tournaments to get in 'em.
It's hard. The old days, or like we talked about with the Ryder Cup rankings, the old days are gone. It's just so tough. I think when you see guys hang in there in the rankings forever once they get to the top, or you see guys pop into the top from nowhere all of a sudden, they don't play on our tour very much, it's hard to say that it -- obviously Lee Westwood's played better than anybody the last two years. It identifies the best players, but I don't think it's perfect.
It's just hard around the hard numbers, whether it's 50 or 70. Do you use it to get into the Masters or do you use it to get into the British Open? You're going to go, There are three guys that I know that aren't as good as those ten guys. It's hard make it work perfectly.
Will it ever get fixed or be perfect? No, probably won't. The long answer to your question is I don't know. What do you do? Nobody ever seems to come up with a better system. It's the best we got. We got to try to tweak it.

Q. (Question regarding his partner.)
DAVIS LOVE III: No, I've got John Lennon from American Express. Long-time partner back from shoulder injury. He's fun to have though. He made the cut a couple times.

Q. Any tricks professionally that talk to the amateur that play in pro-ams with you?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think you just got to get 'em to focus on playing golf. You don't want to walk up on the 4th hole and go, You have a stroke here. You got to just get 'em to play and not be focused on trying to help and how many times have I helped and how many times have I picked up.
You just want them to have fun and play golf. The ones that do well are the ones that are just relaxed and play well. The ones that don't do well start thinking after three holes, Well, we're even. Last year I was 1-under after three, and we shot six the first day. So if I don't shoot at least six, I'm going to have to make some birdies.
So, you know, they just start convincing themselves to think about the score. You just convince them to play and have fun. Successful tour players don't go out and try to make the cut. You try to win and do your best on every hole, every shot. We try to get them to fall into our mindset of, Well, I don't worry about what happened three hole ago or last year. I'm just trying to play this one shot.
If you can get them to fall into your routine, we just hit it and then we talk about fishing or hunting, looking at the waves. They want to hit and go. No, we're not thinking about golf. Let's just have fun. How's the family? You try get them though fall into whatever our routine is.
It's different for different guys. Some guys want to talk a lot. If you're playing with Vaughn Taylor, you're his amateur partner, you probably don't want to talk a lot. If you're playing with Rory Sabbatini, you better start talking.
Just trying get your amateur to fit in with your group and have fun and try to get them to relax and just play and not worry about people or score.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: I think some of it's about the place and the history. The amateurs right now are sitting there wondering who they're going to get to play with. They'd all love to play with Phil Mickelson.
But they enjoy it no matter who they're playing with. They enjoy the experience and the parties -- and this week the weather. So this tournament is different. The pros that play here love it, the guys like me that come back year after year. I just remember Mark O'Meara, playing with him and his dad one of my first few years. I got paired with him a few times. He had the best attitude. He was having so much fun.
The greens are bumpy, pace of play was slow. His dad wasn't playing very good. But he always said, I'm so happy to be here. I love it. I love playing Pebble. The pros that come here like Brad Faxon or whoever that come year after year and enjoy it, that's what makes the tournament and that's why the amateurs love it.
They know that the pros that are here are happy to be here. They love playing Pebble, and it's a fun week for 'em.
JOHN BUSH: Davis, thank you for your time.
DAVIS LOVE III: Thank you.

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