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February 8, 2012

Davis Love III


JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Joining us is Love, III, two‑time champion at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro‑Am.  Davis, playing in your 27th Pebble Beach tournament this week, maybe some opening comments.  You're also the Ryder Cup captain here in 2012, so I'm sure it's been an exciting year for you.  I know you'd like to play some good golf, and got a lot of other responsibilities as well.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah.  I just walked out on the range and a couple of guys said "hello, captain," so that's always nice to hear and it's exciting that we're in a Ryder Cup year.  And we've been doing obviously a lot of preparations getting ready and now the points are getting exciting, and guys are starting ‑‑ the players are starting to talk about it a lot more.
Excited to ‑‑ I got off to a slow start.  Obviously I've only played twice, but everybody's thinking that way, thinking about making points, and obviously Kyle Stanley had a great couple weeks and Stricker had a great couple weeks, and a lot of our guys are playing well.
And there's a lot of details that I've been working on behind the scenes.  Robin and I have been very busy, so it's going to be a fun year.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Okay.  We'll take some questions.

Q.  Have you given any thought to assistant captain, when you're thinking about naming them?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  A lot of thought to who they would be.  Corey gave me a great insight to this two years by letting me be an assistant captain.  I learned an awful lot, and I really learned how important the assistants are, especially when it rains a lot (laughs), that we get to carry a lot of towels and a lot of extra sandwiches.  And I told him actually after the Wales Ryder Cup that I would like to be just a caddie assistant every year because it was so much fun doing all the work behind the scenes.
But it is a big job and I know Jose Maria and I have been talking about is four the right number or is that too many, but it certainly seems like the last two years four has worked, and I'm trying to narrow down my four right now.  I think we will probably announce, again, talking to Jose Maria, seeing when he is ready, trying to time it together.

Q.  Are you considering Fred an assistant?  You guys have a long friendship, but he's kind of become a big figure given the last Presidents Cup.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  He's 2 and 0.

Q.  Yeah, he's 2 and 0.  Is that a distraction or ‑‑
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I'm looking to get the guys to play more relaxed and have fun, and obviously, you know, we want to win, and seems like Fred's put together a formula where they came out firing and relaxed and made some great pairings.  So he and I have already talked a lot, and he would be high on my list.
Obviously he's in the running to be the Presidents Cup captain again because he did so well with the Presidents Cup that the players want him back.  And I know that's ‑‑ you know, he wants to be captain of the Presidents Cup team again, and we'll see where that goes in the next couple months when Tim announces.
But no, I'm going to rely on my friends, you know, that have played a lot of Ryder Cups, and Fred's definitely one of them.

Q.  Davis, you mentioned the points are kind of getting exciting.  When do you seriously start looking at the list and the points?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I don't know.  That's a good question.  Obviously it's volatile right now.  You know, it changes so fast.  Steve Stricker takes a month off and Kyle Stanley has two great weeks, and you know, it just changes.  It changes quickly.
I would think it's serious, you know, mid majors, you know, somewhere after the Masters, U. S. Open, it's going to get real close, and you'll kind of solidify maybe six.  I know they measure for clothes usually in May.  So maybe after that you start getting a little more serious.
I know when I always played it was ‑‑ you went to the Memorial, got measured for clothes, and you started choking on points.  So that's probably the time is you know that it's serious when you get measured for your clothes and the points start settling out.
You know, I'd say U. S. Open I'll be real intent on starting to pick out the four or five guys that I think are going to make it and the four or five guys that are going to be on the bubble.

Q.  The assistant captain side of the equation, would you ever look at former Ryder Cup captains as an assistant captain?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Again, I watched what Corey did, you know, brought in a friend that had been a captain before.  That was really ‑‑ I mean I know I looked at Tom Lehman an awful lot that week, all right, now what do we do, you know, because he'd been there before.  And Corey leaned on him more than his other assistants because he had the experience.  He'd been there before.
And you know, I'm going to consider, again, anybody that I think can make our team better, whether it's the four captains, assistant captains or the four captains' picks for playing.  Whoever can make the team better.  I'm not going ‑‑ and you know, Corey went with some of his close friends, but he didn't go with just friends.  He went with guys he felt like ‑‑ I've been very ‑‑ you know, not that close to Corey.  Certainly there's three or four other guys that I suspect he would pick rather than me.  But he picked me for a reason, he picked Tom for a reason, he picked goydos for a reason, and it all worked very, very well except for just a putt here or putt there.  He had a great strategy and a great plan.

Q.  Davis, you mentioned it's still early, but looking at the list, seven of the eight automatic spots right now are being filled by guys who would be rookies.  Does that worry you that you have that kind of lack of experience on the team right now?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  No.  To Alex's point, it's going to change a lot.  I like the guys that are on there because they're making a ton of birdies, you know, and that's what we need to do is make tons of birdies.
You know, Kyle, I talked to him after San Diego and I said, "you just keep getting there and making that many birdies you're going to win a bunch of golf tournaments," and he proved it the very next week.
All these guys are making ‑‑ Mark Wilson, back to the last couple years.  I played with Ben Crane last week, holy cow, the guy is putting good.  But if I had this eight guys playing like that in September, yeah, I'd be very happy.  You just want eight guys playing that good, and that's what we're looking for.  And it'll change a lot.
You know, Tiger doesn't have a start in this year yet.  I don't know how many Phil has, maybe two, two or three.  So you know, give those guys 15 ‑‑ give Stricker some more time.  Furyk, some more time, I think it'll start looking very similar.  We'll probably have four or five guys that have done it before and four or five guys that haven't, and that's the way it usually works out.

Q.  Anything to be gleaned from the Presidents Cup in regards to maybe pairings?  Or I don't know how close you watch that, but was there anything that you could take from that that might help you?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I didn't watch it closely, but I've talked to Fred a fair amount and some other guys about it.  And yeah, that's what we're looking for.  We're looking for free‑wheeling and having fun and making lots of birdies, playing great.  His pairings were ‑‑ some of them were pretty obvious and some of them weren't.  He filled me in on how he got to that point, how he and Jay got to that point on a lot of them.
And you know, I'm going to rely on guys that have had success like him and Paul and Corey on putting the right guys together recently.
You know, it doesn't really matter whether it's Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup or Walker Cup, if you find two guys that get along really well, like Freddie and I did in the World Cup, you find two guys that get along real well and are comfortable with each other on the golf course, you kinda gotta go with it.

Q.  You kind of excited about the emergence of these young guys?  A year ago about this time people were saying that most of the young talent is over in Europe.  They've got Keegan winning the PGA.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  It goes in cycles and it goes in what people are watching.  Obviously when Rory, you know, was so hot last year and winning the U. S. Open and those guys had won three majors in a row, it just goes in cycles.
But our guys, you know, you watch the American tour ‑‑ Steve Stricker played awfully well on our tour last year.  We had a lot of guys playing really well.  So it's nice to see these young guys ‑‑ you know, I know Kyle a little bit, Johnson, Brandt from their Sea Island connection, so I'm well connected with a lot of the younger guys, Lucas, Zach, Ben Crane because of Zach living at St. Simons and Jonathan Byrd, friends with Ben.  So I'm getting to know a lot of these guys, and I'm fortunate ‑‑ I've been very fortunate that I'm exempt and I'm playing.  I got paired with Ben last week in Phoenix.  I got paired with Steve Stricker in Hawaii.  So I've played twice and I haven't made a cut, but I've made some good progress.  (Laughs).  Made some good progress with the guys that are probably going to be on my team.  And it's funny, both of those guys putt really good.  I've figured out that putting is very important to shooting low scores.
I didn't ‑‑ I hit it well enough.  If I'd have putted like Ben Crane, I'd have done really good last week.  God, he just ‑‑ it's unbelievable, and like I talked to Todd Anderson after playing with Brandt a little bit, and I'm like, you know, it's not Ben Crenshaw, or you know, it's not that Brandt looks like, you know, he has the purest stroke on tour, and Todd goes, "he's the best green reader on tour and he's a confident putter."
So I learned something about Brandt.  I've learned something about Ben; I've learned even more about ‑‑ Stricker and I know each other very, very well.  We'd both rather be in a deer stand most of the time.  But I watched him play from a different perspective the last few years, watching him ‑‑ you know, why is he so successful right now.  I've heard him talk to guys about his putting.
So I'm just lucky that I'm out here with those guys, especially like at Sea Island, go out to hit balls on the range and there's Jonathan Byrd and Zach Johnson, two guys that I'd like to see on the team because they're great wedge players, great putters.
Zach's got the experience and Jonathan's been winning, so I'm just lucky to be out here and amongst them all the time.

Q.  Fred a month before he had to said Tiger was going to be on his team.  Six months out I was wondering if you could do the same for us.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I don't know.  He's hitting it really good and his last three starts are good.  It's hard to get points with no starts.  I think if you give him enough starts he'll probably get enough points.
His last three events he's played very, very well.  Fred knew what he was doing.  I mean he wasn't going out on a limb.  You know, he's picking the best player we've ever seen play.
But you know, healthy, full season, you know, either one of the last couple years, just a few more starts and a little bit healthier, he'd have made those teams.  He wasn't ‑‑ he just didn't have enough starts.  So I think if he has a full, healthy season, we won't be worrying about picking him.  But it's nice with four picks, I got a lot of flexibility.

Q.  As a guy who's been out here a quarter century or so, what kind of media training did Julius make you go through?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Julius didn't make me go through any, but Joe Steranka did.  (Laughs).  Joe's just one level ahead of Julius and I in the pecking order, so we do what he says.
But I've actually had media training with Fred a couple of times and then the PGA of America helped me out a lot.  This is the start of a lot of it really this fear for me.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah.  We actually ‑‑ Freddie and I actually did it ‑‑ we did it in Dallas one time when we were ‑‑ 24 years ago, when we were younger, 22 years ago maybe.  It was fun.  It was very entertaining.  Oughta get the old tapes out of that.

Q.  You were joking a little bit about the fitting in May and spitting up points after the U. S. Open and that kind of thing.  Can you just kind of compare, you know, it's a little bit early, but for you personally, you're used to feeling that pressure trying to make the team as a player.  Where's the stress level and can you feel it building, maybe stress is maybe not the right word.  But as a captain.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  As a player that's why they're walking up to me and saying "hello, captain."  They're already thinking about it.  They're looking at points.
You know, I know Tiger's not going down the list seeing where he is on points because he's used to it, but I guarantee you these guys that are up there now are excited about where they are.  Even my wife asked, why isn't so and so on the list and you're on the list?  Well, I got some points in the majors last year, and this is the year that counts.
I think guys are focused on that ‑‑ you know, when I walk out on the range or walk onto the tee and guys say, "hello, captain," it's still stunning to me that, I'm like, oh, yeah.  You know, I'm bogged down in the details.  I'm not thinking, you know, Friday teeing it up yet.  So it's hitting me that, you know, I'm going to be sitting in a room probably with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk and my assistants trying to figure out pairings before we know it.  So it's starting to hit home a little bit.
I'm excited about it.  You know, I'm excited about this year in general.  I'm trying to play.  I've got a lot of responsibilities, and then I've got these guys looking to me to be their captain.  So it's going to be a fun year.
I'm nervous, I talked to Michael Bamberger.  I am nervous about the speeches is the only thing I'm really nervous about.  Probably Sunday afternoon the putting will get more nervous for me watching these guys play.  But the big speeches in front of a crowd, I sat there and watched Corey and I was going, oh, boy, I'm going to have to do that one day.  And that's what we're not used to.  I'm used to watching guys play golf, so that'll be the fun part.

Q.  (Indiscernible).
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah, the Teleprompter has got me worried.

Q.  I don't know what other word you use other than do players try to suck up to you now?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  They should.  (Laughs).

Q.  And how do you deal with the idea of you being a colleague, peer, buddy of a lot of these guys and now you're going to have to make some very difficult decisions?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I've heard a couple of guys say the same exact words that I said, whether it was Tom Kite or Lanny Wadkins or Curtis Strange, Fred Couples, I want to make his team.  And I don't want any of my friends ‑‑ you know, I'm lucky, I've got friends from the Champions Tour down to rookies this year that I've watched play college golf and come up through the ranks.
I don't want any of those guys trying too hard to make my team and have it mess them up.  I want them to just go play.  The best thing you can do, like I told Kyle Stanley, just keep making birdies, you're going to win golf tournaments.  Just go do it.
And you know, whether it's Justin Leonard or Hudson Swafford or Harris English or Brian Harman, young guys, I just want them to go free‑wheel it, have fun and play.  You'll get your points.  I think it was Mark Wilson at the Masters cut in front of me on 10 and started walking off the tee and turned around and went, "I probably shouldn't have done that, should I?"
"No, you shouldn't have done that."  (Laughs).  Guys are thinking that way, but if you're putting really good, you're going to be in line for a pick.  That's what it boils down to.  Whoever is putting really good during the PLAYOFFS, that's what I'm going to be looking for, what my assistant captains are going to be looking for.
Like I watched ‑‑ you know, I was playing through the PLAYOFFS when Corey was picking, and I got to the meetings late when they had basically picked the fourth that they wanted to pick by the time I got there that night, but the strategy of that, of all those picks was who do we think is going to match up in pairings and who do we think is going to putt good under pressure.  That's why Rickie Fowler was in there.  Rickie Fowler putted great under pressure.  He made putts coming down the stretch on Sunday.  And that's what we want is guys that are cocky and confident with their putters, and then guys that mesh good on the team.  So they can suck up a little bit, but we're going to pick guys that are putting good.

Q.  Davis, last year Jim Furyk just made the team, didn't really have a very good 2011 and then ended up being maybe the All Star on the team of the Presidents Cup.  How do you factor that kind of stuff in when you're making your four picks?  Obviously you've mentioned Furyk a couple of times, but how do you if it's an experience thing versus maybe and I don't think he was putting very well coming in either.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I think you know the guys that would rise to the occasion.  I think Freddie knew that with Tiger, that if he's healthy and he plays a couple of times, he's going to play good because he thrives under the pressure.  You know, he makes putts that count.
When we were looking at it, we said, you know, Rickie Fowler makes putts, Tiger Woods makes putts under pressure.  We need them on the team.  And so when you get down to it, you know, it's not going to be ‑‑ it's not going to be a hard thing to do.  I think the hardest thing to do is you might have five or six guys and telling two guys that they didn't make it is going to be hard.  But I think it'll be pretty obvious a month out that there's a small group, and you want some experience of guys that can rise to the occasion no matter what they've been doing lately, and you want some guys that are doing it at the time, that are making the putts, that are charging up the list and not ‑‑ that's what I've seen in a lot of the captains.  Guys that are falling off the list are falling off for a reason.  Guys that are charging up the list are doing it for a reason, and you gotta factor that in there when you're looking at them.

Q.  Just curious, I've been busting on Steranka about this for a while, but would you like to see it go to four days, then if you had rain you'd have more time to kind of get caught up and be an extra day of fun and so much of the results wouldn't get lost from the morning?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  It was funny, we were talking about that the other day, whether the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup or the Walker Cup had it right.  Those guys go overseas to the Walker Cup and they only play two days.  You know?  And we get to the Ryder Cup on Monday and it seems like it takes forever to start.  Fred had a great line about when he wanted his players to get to the Presidents Cup the first year.  He said Wednesday, so they don't wear themselves out.  You know, so they're ready to go, so they're excited.
That's a little late, but yeah, I think as big ‑‑ like the Super Bowl, those guys just seemed like they were at the Super Bowl for so long before the game actually started.  No, I like the way ‑‑ I like the way the points fall.  I think the Presidents Cup might have too many points and the Walker Cup might be too compact.  I like three days.  I don't know if my nerves could handle four.  The players might not want to spread it into four.  But it's worked pretty good.
I'm still wondering which format we should play first.  You know, that's a good strategy thing, you know, how the course should be set up, things like that.  But I like the three days.

Q.  Just a quick question on this week, Davis, as often as you've played here and under so many different conditions, what's it like when you get a week like this?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Wow, I just played with Blake Adams and we were saying I've never seen three golf courses in this good of shape.  Guys that have played a lot this year said these are the best greens they've seen so far this year.  You don't usually hear that when you get to Pebble and Spyglass.  I've played 27 ‑‑ this is my 27th time here.  I can't ‑‑ I don't think of this as a terrible weather tournament in the history ‑‑ sure, we've had some rainouts and we've had some bad, but I've seen a lot of nice days out at Pebble and Spyglass.  So it's fun to play when it's like this.
Now, obviously they're in a drought.  The greens are firmer than they've ever been.  The courses are in just immaculate shape, but they've really ‑‑ since AT & T took it over they've really stepped everything up.  The golf courses are unbelievable.  Now with the addition of Monterey Peninsula, everything they're doing is just ‑‑ it seems like all the rough's cut the same height now.  We were shocked today, two beautiful days in a row.  I played 13 holes on Pebble yesterday and the courses are just immaculate.  This is why we come here, to get a few days like this.

Q.  What do you think of the Presidents Cup process for pairings where the captains go back and forth picking guys?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  It's exciting.  You know, I've been there as a player, so I just look at who I'm playing.  I enjoyed the process with Corey from behind the scenes of laying them out there and seeing the surprise.  It seems a lot more intense when you're watching it, you know, as a assistant captain or a captain.  When you put your four out there and you don't know what ‑‑ there's no back and forth.  So I kind of like both of them, but it seems like a little more nerve wracking the way the Ryder Cup does it.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah.  More strategic, but then once you put them down, it's so random.  Like I drew ‑‑ Tom Kite and I drew Seve and Jose three matches in a row and you just think that could never ever happen.  And you just never know what's going to happen when you have to write all four of them down and then just turn them in.  It's pretty exciting.
I think there's a reason why this tournament, the Ryder Cup is so big.  It does a lot of things right, and I wouldn't monkey with it very much.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN:  Davis Love, thank you.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Thank you all.

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