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March 1, 2012

Davis Love III


DAVE SENKO:¬† Davis, thanks for joining us.¬† Maybe get us started, I know you mentioned outside about wanting to get off to a good start.¬† You had not done so recently.¬† Maybe just talk about your day with the hole‑in‑one, which was your fifth, I believe, on the PGA TOUR.
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† Yeah, a hole‑in‑one is a good start.¬† I knew starting when we were on the range this morning that scores, the early scores, were going to be better, and you'd better get off to a good start.¬† I was parring along there, had some birdie putts, and had not made a birdie yet.¬† Then all of a sudden, I was 2‑under.
So that was a big boost.¬† I obviously hit a good shot but you're lucky when they go in.¬† But that was a good boost and then to hit a good drive at the next hole and have a birdie putt and then birdied three in a row, that was a really good start the first nine.¬† Wasn't quite as good on the back.¬† But we all know how hard the back is.¬† Missed a couple fairways.¬† Hit a bad 4‑iron into 10 and made a bogey.
There.¬† Finished nice, and I played the par 3s real well obviously.¬† I was 4‑under on the par 3s with a missed 6‑footer so that was the key.¬† I hit good iron shots on all of the par3s.¬† They can be very dangerous.¬† They were all three 5‑irons and a 7‑iron.¬† They were all 200 or less, which is nice; sometimes they can be 230.
But I hit the ball really well all day except for a couple of tee shots like I said.
DAVE SENKO:¬† Birdies, we got your hole‑in‑one.¬† 7, 8 and 9, do you remember the shot sequence.
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† 7, I hit another 5‑iron about 15 feet.
Then 8, I hit a bad drive but it was on the pine straw rather than the rough just outside the ropes, so I hit an 8‑iron six or eight feet.
Then 9, I hit a 3‑wood off the tee and a wedge, again, about five or six feet.
Then 10, I hit a great drive and hit a bad 4‑iron right of the green; chipped it up and missed it.
Made a nice save at 11.
Like I said, had a 6‑footer; had a couple other birdie putts, but then had, I don't know, 18‑ or 20‑footer at 17.
Do you get a prize for hole‑in‑one in this tournament?¬† I did it on the wrong role.¬† Right hole for me but the wrong hole for the car.¬† No Honda for me.
But Matt Bettencourt, looked like he almost had a hole‑in‑one.¬† We both hit it three feet and six feet at 15.
But then 18, I hit not a great drive again and hit a 3‑wood in the bunker by the green and got it up‑and‑down.¬† So good way to finish.

Q.  What was the club and yardage on the ace, and just walk us through.  Haven't seen video yet.
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† It was 197, and it was a little bit‑‑ the wind was just starting to blow, and it was like a little bit outside of my comfort range for a 5‑iron; but you knew 4 was too much.¬† And Matt hit a 5 and got it there pretty easy.
I said, well, I'll just hit it up the middle of the green if I hit it hard, maybe it will turn towards the hole a little bit, just play it out there right of the flag a little bit safe; and hit it, and it was in the air, it looked great, just telling it to go a little bit.¬† And it hit, I don't know, three or four feet short and just‑‑ I don't know if it bounced once or twice but went right in.¬† I couldn't really see it.¬† It didn't roll a long way.
Like I said it landed three, four feet from the hole.¬† But they are so soft‑‑ it was amazing.¬† I don't think I've ever played this course in a long time with the greens so soft.¬† They were backing up.

Q.¬† 6‑iron or 5?
DAVIS LOVE III:  5.  I had two holes where my iron shot flew into the green and stuck.  It was a good call today with lift, clean and place.  There was mud on all of the balls in the fairway.

Q.¬† What kind of line did you have on 18?¬† Up‑and‑down pretty simple?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I had a good lie in the bunker but I was 25 yards away probably.¬† I was in the‑‑ not the green‑side but the next one over.¬† I had 265 to the front, so I had close to 290 hole.¬† So I was trying to pound it and I pulled it over in the bunker.¬† But it was a good lie.

Q.  This is my first time here; where is the other tee on the hole?  Back on the right?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† The tee we played today, which I think we are going to play all week, was the‑‑ maybe the first time they backed it up, and then they put one around the corner, it's way back over and it's just a little pad.¬† It makes the hole unreachable.¬† So it kind of takes the fun out of it.
Today, you know, we hit‑‑ Matt Bettencourt hit a pretty good drive down the left side of the fairway, and he still had to hit 3‑wood.¬† I hit mine way over to the right side of the fairway and had to try to kill a 3‑wood.
So he hit a really good drive today, you might see a guy go at it with a hybrid or maybe even a 3‑iron for a really long hitter.¬† But it's still a tough hole, and it's down, right‑to‑left.¬† If it's into the wind, even from that tee, you don't get there.¬† I think that's a better hole.
And then on Sunday you want to see some guys going for it.¬† You don't want to see anybody laying up.¬† And we all hate that lay up.¬† It's a zigzaggy layup.¬† It's tough to layup.¬† It's hard.¬† You hit the fairway and then it's one of the hardest lay‑ups probably on TOUR.¬† So we are happy to go for it.

Q.  What should anyone read out of a round like this?
DAVIS LOVE III:  That I got off to a good start.

Q.  Nothing more?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I've been hitting the ball real well, and a lot of tournaments last year, I just didn't get off to a good start.¬† I had a lot of even par the first day or 1‑over, and just get behind the 8‑ball.¬† So I'm just glad to be off to a good start.

Q.  Have you thought about how getting off to a good start for your year would change the rest of your career trying to make The Ryder Cup Team?
DAVIS LOVE III:  Well, like we said in here the other day, it just takes one week right now to jump right up in there.  You know, beginning of the year, the first guy that won was going to be tied with Keegan Bradley, you know.
So I know that's the way Tiger or whoever or Phil a month ago was looking at it.  All you have to do is have one good week and right back in there.  One good week for me and I'm right back up in there.  I got a few points last year which was nice, but they are all this year.  Two wins is going to put a guy into good position.

Q.  Have you talked to any captains about how tough it would be to be a playing captain?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† No, I haven't.¬† We begged Kite to pick himself and he wouldn't do it.¬† That's the last one that‑‑ there's been a lot of them that could have played.¬† But you know, that's a long way off.
You know, I switch modes, you know, from Tuesday, and now I'm thinking about playing.¬† So that's obviously your goal.¬† You know, when I talk to my friends‑‑ you know, your goal shouldn't be just to play good today.¬† Your goal should be to be the FedExCup Champion and to make The Ryder Cup Team and to win all the majors, because drive, that makes you work hard every day, come out and play hard and be focused.
You know, we are talking about getting ready for the Masters; I need to be ready for every week right now and do my best to move back up.
I told my son the other day, I said, I want to play in the Match Play next year.  I'm not in the Match Play and I'm not in Doral.  That's why I need to play well; it's not necessarily just The Ryder Cup Team.  If I'm close to making The Ryder Cup Team and don't make it, that means I'm going to be in the Match Play next year.  I have to win to get in the Masters.  So there's a lot of reasons to come out and play well other than just to earn points.

Q.  Tying the course record; you have a major and 20 wins and a couple PLAYERS; is tying a course record still something that sends you back to your hotel room feeling pretty good?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† Again, you feel good if you get off to a good start.¬† If I had not birdied the last two holes, it still would have been a good start.¬† I had a good nine ‑‑ my last nine at Pebble was 30, and I felt like I was starting to play better.
I did some work with my short game and putting and things between Pebble and now to get ready for here.  I worked on iron shots, because you've got to hit good iron shots on par 3s to survive this golf course, so it paid off today.  Yeah, it's fun to break, tie the course record, and it's fun to shoot low scores.
Again, you go back and look, I have a lot of 70s starting off tournaments and a lot of erratic scores.  Some good days and some bad days, but most of my bad days have been the first round.  I get so excited to play and then come out and don't play well.
Today, I just said, I'm just going to go have fun and relax and play and I'm not going to put any pressure on myself.  After four holes, I was being very patient and then it paid off.

Q.  What did you hit on 17?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I hit 5‑iron on all the par3s except 15.¬† I hit 7 there.
And if you hit the green on 15 and 17, you've done pretty good.  I had makeable birdie putts, so that was a bonus.

Q.¬† Even though it's been a long way off, we love to speculate about these things.¬† I assume a lot of the duties would fall on your assistants and I'm drawing a blank on who your assistants‑‑
DAVIS LOVE III:  I haven't announced them yet.  You heard me the other day, I waffled a lot, about ten guys.  I'm still working on it.
I've talked to José Maria about it a few times and he wants to wait as long as possible to announce.  So I'm hoping that April, May, but still figuring it out.  Still taking applications.

Q.  We've talked since November, December, there's a feeling that this will probably be the hardest European Team to make maybe in history.  Do you get a sense when you talk about the early starts and the emergence of the Kyle Stanleys, etc., that this U.S. Team might be just as hard if not harder?
DAVIS LOVE III:  It's going to be tough.  We have a lot of guys playing really well.
And again, the volatility now, Kyle Stanley is still going to have to keep playing well, because ever since his two good weeks, a lot of guys have played some good golf:  Keegan, Phil, Stricker, took a month off, Steve Stricker will be back and he'll be earning points.  Obviously Tiger has not played a whole lot and he'll be earning a lot of points.
It's going to be tough.¬† You're going to have a lot of good, young guys, which is nice.¬† They are going to fight it out.¬† I hope they keep making the putts they have been making.¬† But it will be tough and it's going to be tough‑‑ as I get to know these guys better, it's going to be tough for me to pick four and tell four others that they didn't make it.¬† That's going to be really tough.

Q.  Get your assistants to do that.  (Laughter).
DAVIS LOVE III:  We've got to change the assistants rule.  I get to tell the four they made it and somebody else tells the four that didn't make it.  (Laughter).

Q.  How much confidence do you have going into the 16th hole?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† Well, I'm good until I walk by that bear.¬† You see that bear standing there‑‑ (laughter).
I'm pretty good on that one.¬† I would say I have more confidence there than 17.¬† I've hit more good shots at 16‑‑ you talking about 15 or 16?

Q.  16.
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I like 16.¬† 16 doesn't bother me as much as the par3s.¬† I usually hit a 2‑iron or a 3‑wood off the tee, and that one doesn't bother me because of my length.¬† The other two are the hardest two of the Bear Trap for me.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk about McIlroy who is right behind you on the leaderboard there.  Is there a young American player who you look at and say, maybe this guy is going to be our McIlroy.
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I think there's a big group of them.¬† Keegan winning a major last year, and he's playing‑‑ off to a great start.¬† Everybody wants it to be Rickie Fowler.¬† But there's a lot of guys; Kyle Stanley hits the ball so good, makes so many birdies.
I don't know who it could be.  But there's a big group of five or six of them.  And I know five or six of them that are not on TOUR that will be soon that could be.  You look at the University of Alabama golf team and Peter Uihlein and guys like that that are not out here yet.  I mean, there's a lot of good, young players.  I think we are in a great position right now.  But which one steps up, I don't know.  It's tough.
You know, Rory‑‑ that's like saying who is going to be the next Tiger or the next Jack Nicklaus; the next Rory, he's one of the best players in the world.¬† But I think there's a lot of Americans that could do it.
You know, Hunter Mahan is playing great.  Even though Steve Stricker is older, Steve is kind of our guy that we look to now as the most consistent American.  I think there's a lot of guys that can take that position away from him.

Q.  Just talking about Rory there, do you see any comparisons with Tiger at all?  Do you think they are fair?  What do you see in him?
DAVIS LOVE III:¬† I see in Rory a willingness‑‑ he's very mature at a young age, a lot like Tiger.¬† But I see willingness to do whatever it takes to be a top player.¬† He works hard and says and does all the right things.¬† Looks like he's really working out in the gym.¬† He's soaking it all in and doing everything he can to be a great player.¬† I think that determination or that little bit of something extra that drives you, I think he's got it like Tiger has.

Q.  What do you like best about the golf course?
DAVIS LOVE III:  Well, today, I liked the par3s.  (Laughter).
You know, I've always liked putting these greens.  I think the only time that I've ever seen them not perfect is when we played the PGA here when it was so hot; that was before you were born.  (Laughter).
But these greens are always really good.  They are a little soft today but I always enjoy putting here because I grew up on bermuda, so I really like the greens.
DAVE SENKO:  Thanks, Davis.

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