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July 6, 2011

Davis Love III


THE MODERATOR: We welcome a man who obviously needs no introduction, Davis Love. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes prior to the Round 1 of the John Deere Classic. We'll just turn it over to you for some opening comments on your year and how you're feeling heading into the week.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm excited to be back at the John Deere Classic. It's always a fun tournament and great place and great hospitality, and I'm excited about this week, and obviously about their big plane going to the British Open.
So this is -- I've been looking forward to this. I even skipped the last two weeks kind of so I'd be ready for this week and next week and not be burned out. I felt like I was a little tired when I got here last year. So anyway, excited and ready to play here. It'll be fun.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll go ahead and take a few questions.

Q. Everyone has been talking about all these young guys and how they're different from the young guys of previous generations. One of my earliest memories as a reporter was at the Pensacola Open in either '87 or '88 talking to the new young bomber, Davis Love III. What is different about this young generation as opposed to young golfers coming out when you first came out?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. I don't know if there's any difference. They're young rookies, and everybody older than them talks about how long they hit it.
There's just more of them. I think the difference from '85 Q-School to 2012 class is just there's just more of them. There's more really good players. I go out and watch junior golf and amateur golf a lot now, and I'm just -- I'm amazed at the golf, the scores that these kids are shooting, and it's just because there's just more -- well, it's because of -- you know, for us it was Arnie and Jack and players like that. Now kids are coming out because they watched Greg Norman and Fred Couples, and they were cool, and they wanted to be like them. And now it's Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. You know, we just have more and more kids that want to be professional golfers, and they're better athletes and they're more prepared.

Q. Are they part of (indiscernible) game at a younger age in terms of sophistication of how they handle themselves?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I think we all looked at Scott Verplank when we were kids and go, he's different than everybody else. He's doing something different. He's more polished. I think there's just more Scott Verplanks and more completely prepared players to get to the college level or get to the professional level than there were when I came out.
And it's just because it's big money. It's a big sport. It's one of the most popular things to watch on TV. So you get more and more good athletes doing it.

Q. Davis, at what point are you going to have to put -- or will you put your game maybe a little bit on the back burner and maybe concentrate on Ryder Cup duties?

Q. You won't? You'll still try to play at that high level?
DAVIS LOVE III: That was my first discussion with the PGA of America is how many days is this going to take because it's going to have to come out of hunting and fishing and goofing off days. (Laughs). So that's a big commitment for me to skip snowboarding days.
But no, I'm not going to back off on my golf. I signed a deal with Bridgestone that said I was going to play 20 tournaments, and I always play 23 or 4 or 5. And you know, I'm here to play this week, and you know, next year I'm going to be here to play again.
You know, not -- it really shouldn't -- you shouldn't have to put anything on the back burner if you're organized, and there's really nothing other than, you know, business decisions to be made. There's nothing to take you away from playing golf tournaments and working on your golf game.
So I'm sure you gotta watch guys play. The best way to do that is go play with them, you know. And I've had a great time playing with, you know, Bo Van Pelts, and Mark Wilsons and Jeff Overtones and Rickie Fowlers, guys that I haven't gotten -- most captains wouldn't have gotten a chance to play for two or three years with.
So I'll be ready for the Ryder Cup, but Scott Verplank and I talked about trying to make the team, you know. We're not out here trying to decide who is going to make the team. We're trying to make the team.

Q. Part of my question was going to be how much are you talking to guys about this, but how much are you already hearing from guys about it? Steve Stricker told us it's already on the back of his mind since he's got Medinah-like courses in his own backyard.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I played six Ryder Cups, and until the last three or four months I didn't realize how big a tournament it is, you know, because I'm just trying to make the team, then trying to win a match, you know. And then get off the team, try to make the next one.
You know, it was a goal. It was something I was trying to do. I didn't sit back and think about, you know, deciding which floor of the hotel we're going to have to be on and how massively big a media commitment this is for me. You know, look at my schedule over the next 12 months.
You didn't realize, because I was just playing in the thing, you know. I wasn't part of the machine that drove it, and now that I'm part of the machine that drives it, it's incredible how big it is.
So yeah, Steve Stricker is doing the same thing I was doing, you know. He's just excited about trying to make the team. I'm ninth in points. I'm thinking about it, too. I'm thinking the same thing Steve Stricker is thinking. If I can have a good British Open or PGA, I'm ahead of the game for next year.
So yeah, people ask me all the time what do you think about Tiger Woods' knee or what are you going to do about Rory McIlroy? That doesn't have anything to do with what we're thinking. We're trying to prepare for the tournament. You can't predict now who's going to make the team on either side.
So we're all excited about it because it's so important to us, and I keep saying the reason why we lose is because Steve Stricker's already thinking about it, Davis Love's already thinking about it. We want to win so bad that it's already -- we're already thinking about it.
And so the trick -- the only thing that I'm working hard on, you know, I hate to say that I'm worried about, because I'm not worried about it, but I'm working hard on how to figure it out is just get our guys to play from Friday to Sunday like they do the rest of the year. And that's the challenge, because we are excited about it. We want to win.

Q. As the 2012 American Ryder Cup captain, how much did you hate watching Rory do what he did at the Open, and what's happening in terms of Europe vs. America?
DAVIS LOVE III: That's my point is I loved watching what Rory did because I felt so bad for Rory at the Masters because I know if he hits ten fairway, he probably wins the thing. So I felt bad for him there. I was excited for him at the U.S. Open. And it really doesn't matter what he does at the U.S. Open for next year's Ryder Cup.
We -- I -- maybe I look at it differently. I don't play against -- like this week, well, Louis Oosthuizen is here, I gotta beat him because he's not from America. I don't look at it that way. I'm playing golf trying to win, and if Rory kicks my butt at the U.S. Open, I go home and practice my putting because I hit it just as good as he did probably. So to me that doesn't have anything to do with it. It really doesn't.

Q. Rory didn't go to college. (Indiscernible) didn't go to college. Jason Day didn't go to college. Is that a factor maybe why these Americans aren't coming out as ready?
DAVIS LOVE III: The Americans aren't coming out as ready? You would think that guys that don't go to college have less experience. So --

Q. They're turning pro earlier.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. They'd better be good to turn pro that early. You know, we gain experience, I think, by playing tournaments. And you can't just automatically pop out on the TOUR. They're getting onto our TOUR, you know, through the European Tour.
So I think if Rickie Fowler would have gone to Europe, he could have gotten to the U. S. TOUR faster. But you gotta get experience somewhere. So they're not coming -- there's not very many 18-year-olds coming straight out onto our TOUR. They're coming from other places.
But you know --

Q. Is their track a faster track or a better track?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. You know, it goes in cycles. We had a lot of Americans winning majors for a cycle. But when you look at overall, I think an American wins two out of every three tournaments over here. You know, maybe -- I don't know if that's right, but they win a big percentage of them.
I'm trying to think back. Stricker won Memorial. And Harrison Frazar. And David Toms. So yeah. I mean the streak has just been that they won the majors, and that's a lot of talk. But I don't think it changes -- I don't think we need to change our American golf -- tell guys not to go to college because of that.
I mean Rickie went for two years and he was ready. I went for three years and I'm ready. Kevin Tway went for four years. We're going to find out if he's ready. So everybody has to turn pro when their game's ready, not -- it's not college. I think college golf has prepared a heck of a lot of guys to play well here.

Q. Two quick ones for you, Davis. In Illinois, a couple hours away from Medinah, do you do anything up there this week preparation wise for next year or is your focus all here?
DAVIS LOVE III: No. I'm here to play. As I said, I'm going to do my Ryder Cup stuff on weeks off. And really, you know, we gotta go through a whole 'nother winter at Medinah, so I can't really do anything with the golf course.
I don't have a plan for the golf course yet. I'm going to talk to a lot of players. I've already talked to some caddies, but you know, until you know what your team is like, I don't know if I'm going to have a lot of straight hitters, a lot of long hitters -- I bet I have a lot of long hitters, but until you know what you want, there's no reason to mess with it.
So there's a lot of stuff, a lot of clothing, what floor of the hotel, what locker room, you know, what gifts we're going to -- you know, we got a lot of -- we got a huge list of stuff to do. The golf course, I talked to Cary Hay (sp.) about that. We're going to talk about -- come up with a strategy first and then go look at the golf course.
But we're lucky in Medinah, we kind of know what we got. It's either do you want deep rough or do you want no rough is basically the decision; how deep's the rough. The question for me is go ask the greens superintendent, do you want to mow it down if I tell you I want it shorter or do you want to grow it up. How does he want it a month before? Do you want it real tall and then if it's too tall, mow it down or if it's not tall enough we'll let it grow, and that's for him to decide. We know we want major championship conditions because it's a major championship golf course. But no, the short version is no, there's not much to do except look at the emails that keep piling up.

Q. The second question then, we've seen players who are in the captain's seat have a resurgence in their game. Has this new position helped your game in any way and if so, how?
DAVIS LOVE III: Hasn't yet. I hope it does. I think I'm playing decent here and there. But you know, the Ryder Cup -- you know, right now Presidents Cup I'm trying to make Freddie's team. I keep looking at the points going, God, I gotta win a couple.
So it's a motivation. Sometimes you get in your own way thinking about trying to make the teams. But it does motivate me. You know, when the PGA of America emails me and tells me you're in ninth place in points, you know, you think, golly, if I just have another good week in a major this year and come out smoking next year, I'll be right in there.
But it's not -- you know, I'm the same all the time. I want to play well when I come to play, and I don't think it'll be a distraction or a different motivation than any other year. I want to make the team, and I'm not going to let -- you know, we're working hard on our McGladrey Classic at Sea Island. We're working hard on a lot of other stuff off the golf course, so I'm lucky that I have a staff, and my brother with our Love Golf Design with our Foundation, we have a lot of stuff going on. As Freddie Couples always says when he comes to our house, "there's way too much going on around here. You guys don't sit around enough." (Laughs) My team at home they keep the ball rolling so I can come out here and play.
We've got great people back there working. So you know, that includes now the PGA of America team because they're doing the majority of the work for Robin and I.

Q. This is kind of a simple question, but for the laymen out there that cover golf or those that don't know a lot about golf, they hear all this talk about the Ryder Cup captain, what's he going to do. A baseball manager wants hits and runs and relief pitchers. What does a Ryder Cup captain have to do, and what is the captain's involvement in terms of actual golf?
DAVIS LOVE III: Making sure that they make their tee time. You know. Tiger and Stricker, make sure they're on the tee. Denis Savard said, "you just open the door." That's the best advice I've gotten yet. Just open the door and let them play, you know.
And you can do all you want, but it's going to be up to Stricker and Woods, if they're playing together, to go out and beat somebody.
And I know when I played for Tom Kite, you know, I tried so hard to win for Tom Kite that I got in my own way. And so my only thing is going to be, "Guys, I just want you to go play golf like you play golf all year long, and that's all I'm asking you. Get to the tee on time and just go play Steve Stricker golf and that's going to be good enough for me. Don't do anything special." So we just gotta get them relaxed and ready to play. I can coach them a little bit on that.

Q. It's such an individual sport, is it a team of playing an individual sport?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's going to be the same thing as Bob Rotella or Morris Pickens talking to his players at the U.S. Open. It's just another round of golf. We're going to go through our same process.
It's going to be that kind of -- I'm going to talk to the sports psychologists, and what do I say. Tiger, you don't need to say anything to him. Just go play golf. But you might have, like Jeff Overton last year, a guy that's so excited. "All right, Jeff all we want you to do is just go play Jeff Overton golf. That's good enough. Just go have fun." And that's why the partnerships are important because we've found Tiger and Stricker are really good together. Just find guys that are comfortable together and let them go play is all we're going to try to do.

Q. I was there at Medinah in January, couldn't talk much about the course because it was buried under snow. He said ask me about it, I'll come back and check it out, but I think you probably answered part of this.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. We figured out that it was going to snow again. But you know, I have -- we've heard about the golf course. I was actually going to go up there for -- my son was playing in the Western Junior, and I ended up with some travel issues. I didn't make it.
But you know, we're playing there in -- is it October the 8th or -- we got a year to go. September 26th or something like that. We have an event up there where we are going to go play. We're going to spend a couple days.
But again, you know, right now it's not really about golf. It's about organization and getting things done, getting decisions made, you know that you would think you could wait, but you gotta do it now.

Q. Could you talk about your change, you mentioned Bridgestone made a big change, how that's working for you?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's been great. The golf ball was an immediate, easy change. I've been through a lot of sets of irons this year just because they keep bringing me, "try these, these look better." And they made a set right before Memorial that had a higher center of the gravity, because I hit it high, and it's always a struggle for me to keep the ball down. But I got a set I played with at Memorial and U.S. Open that are probably the best set I've ever had, so I'm really excited about that.
And they're great to work with. A lot of the guys, Kevin, Snedeker, we've all been playing pretty good, and Kuch obviously.

Q. Can you give us your take on the course and the tournament in general here, how you see this weekend developing?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the course is in great shape, as usual, and looks like the weather is going to be nice, and it's obviously firmer than it has been in years past where the last few years have been rain soaked and soft.
Fairways are bouncing a little bit. The greens are bouncing a little bit, which is nice. And you know, gotta probably watch out for Steve Stricker again and the guys that usually play well here, get the same group. But if it stays like it is now, scores probably won't be as low if it stays firm.

Q. How about the field? Seems like it gets stronger every year.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah. They do a great job. As I said, I walked off the plane, walked to the baggage claim and the guy says, "I've taken care of you." And I said, "What?" And he goes, "I got you a pickup truck."
So that's their attitude is right off the plane we're going to do whatever we can to make you happy, and the guy remembered that I like pickup trucks.
So they do a great job, I mean from Clair on down, everybody's -- they're happy you're here. People running up to me telling me Louis Oosthuizen is playing. And they're just excited that we're here, and that's great.
They do a great job, and the Deere people have been fun for me to get to know. I think the field -- when guys go back and say, hey, this was a great tournament -- that's what we found at our event is the best thing you can have is TOUR pros go away and tell other TOUR pros and they come back.
THE MODERATOR: Well, Davis, thanks for your time and best of luck this week.
DAVIS LOVE III: Thank you all.

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