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November 6, 2013

Davis Love III


THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  We'll get started.  We'd like to welcome McGladrey Classic tournament host Davis Love, III into the interview room.  Making his fourth start at the tournament.  Davis, you tied for fourth here last year.  You're finally getting in the swing of things here at this tournament.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I'm learning the golf course, yes.  (Laughs).  I had my son and a bunch of locals out last week and we played a couple more practice rounds.  So yeah, it was nice to be home the week before the tournament for the first time.  That was the biggest thing about the way the schedule fell this year.
I know we missed a few players because they were in China, but I was glad that‑‑ and Doug wasn't here last week because he was in China.  But he came all the way and so did Boo Weekley.
But it was nice to see‑‑ well, some of it wasn't nice to see, the buildup to the tournament.  There was a lot of work going on, a lot of sleepless nights from my team and my family.  But it was nice to be here, and I feel like I'm a little bit more prepared to play than I was last year.
THE MODERATOR:  Talk a little bit about the growth of this tournament now in its fourth year.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Well, it continues to grow every year.  As I said, we have a great team.  Sea island has a great team.  The PGA TOUR is obviously very supportive of everything we do every week, but especially here since they're close to home.
And McGladrey really stepped up, obviously, with our purse increase was incredible.  They've really helped us with this Birdies For Love we're doing.  We're raising‑‑ I don't know if I'm supposed to say how much we've raised.  Over $450,000 with the new program we've put together.  Melanie had a Krispy Kreme jet flew in with the CEO and sponsored our Wiffle Ball game that's, what, two years in a row‑‑ is it two or three we've done Wiffle Ball?  Two?  And I haven't been to the Wiffle Ball game yet.  We do so much fun stuff you can't get to it all.
But I'm not going to miss the petting zoo at my house tonight because that's kind of more up my alley.  Or tomorrow night for the kids.  I hear there's a pig, so that's going to be pretty exciting.
But there's so much going on with our event that it just grows and grows every year.  The Monday pro am was a huge success, even though it was windy.  But party in Lexi's barn last night for the pro am draw party, there's a lot going on; it's a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR:  Before we open it up for questions, that petting zoo, with your pet raccoon show up for that?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Well, they're in the neighborhood.  I got two now that are eating cat food, but I found out this morning, which I didn't even know things that are going on at my house, all the barn cats were in the dog kennel when we got up this morning.  Robin said, they've been there for a day.  We don't want them to get run over at the party.  So there's always something animal wise, seems like, going on.
And I've got four house guests.  Mike Hulbert is leaving today.  We're replacing him with Kevin Tway.  So there's a lot going on down at our house.

Q.  So you're going to play the remake of "Dr. Doolittle?"  Is that what we're hearing here?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Like Freddie Couples always said, "there's way too much going on at your house, Davis."  So it continues.

Q.  The home‑field advantage perhaps for the guys who live here, is that always minimized by the fact that the course plays a lot different this coming week than it would the other 51 weeks of the year?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  It plays a lot different, and like DAVIS LOVE, III, we had an opening, and my brother, Mark, filled in and played with Zach, and Zach said on Monday it was blowing so hard, he said, "I've never seen this course play like this."  And Mark said, "yeah, because when you're home and the wind blows so hard, you don't play golf."
So a lot of times we really don't see it in intense conditions or super‑fast greens and obviously tweaked for the tournament.  But that's why a lot of us, Jonathan and Robert Karlsson, Zach, a bunch of guys went out this weekend, because we heard the greens had sped up a lot.  And they actually had them tournament speed early last week, so a lot of guys were out there getting the feel for it because it is a lot different.
Certainly when you come in and you put up the tents and the grand standsit ‑‑ we played Thursday and the only thing we were missing was fans.  It just looked like it was tournament ready.  So we gotta get a little bit used to that.
But home‑field advantage is good and bad.  You know, you're comfortable with the golf course, but you've also got the pressures of playing at home and expectations.  You try a little too hard, and I know Jim Furyk and I certainly, the last group last year were trying too hard to win because it would have been neat for either one of us to win this event.

Q.  You touched on this a little bit at the beginning, just obviously the fourth year of the tournament.  Just maybe if you could assess it four years in, and on the flip side of that, what are some of the challenges that you face every year here?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Well, because of our great partnership with McGladrey, pretty much any new ideas we come up with‑‑ we needed a purse increase because of this new format.  Pretty much everything we've wanted to do they've supported and helped us do it.
But the challenge is to keep it going.  You know, you give a little bit more money to charity and you raise your purse a little bit.  One thing I learned from being on the board so many times with the TOUR is you can't go backwards, you know, so Scott Reid's been tempering me like let's don't go too far ahead because we have to grow a little bit at a time.
So obviously we had a huge purse increase, but we're going to have to sustain that momentum with charity and with purse.  And in a small town that's a challenge.  That's why so many little things like Wiffle Ball tournaments and Birdies For Love cars and little things like that aren't that little.  They add up in the end.
And every volunteer, every little sponsorship you sell, every pro am group goes to the bottom line, ends up with charity.  And that's the challenge is just to‑‑ you know, they sell‑‑ they basically sell for six months, seven months and then you build the tournament and have the tournament for about two months.  And the selling part is always the hard part.

Q.  You can't throw a rock here without hitting a pro golfer, it seems living here.  Why has that happened and do you take a little kind of personal pride or satisfaction in having kind of laid some of this out?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I get a lot of credit, like I do‑‑ they say, boy, your tournament is great.  Well, my name's on it, but all these people on our staff are the ones that make it happen.
But Bill Jones, III, when he kind of took the reins of the Sea Island Company, he wanted to update all the golf.  He brought in Tom Fazio, Reese Jones, built new golf courses, built great practice facilities.  He made this an incredible place to work on your golf game, and obviously it's a great place to live.
When I was a kid and growing up when I was first on TOUR, I had to go find good greens somewhere else to practice my putting on.  Now people are coming here because we have world‑class facilities; we have world‑class teachers.  He brought in Jack Lumpkin and Todd Anderson and Mike Shannon and right on down the list.  So people come here for a lesson.  They see the practice facilities, they see how nice it is.  They might come over to my house for a barbecue and then kind of, hey, I could live here, too.  And you know, there's a couple players this week that are looking at condos.
So we're sucking them in.  David Toms came in, spent some time, joined the golf club, bought two paddle boards at my shop and he's here a lot now.  He loves it.  If he's on this side of the country at PLAYERS or Masters and Hilton Head, he pops in here now.  So eventually maybe we'll suck him in.
We gotta replace Chris Kirk, so we're working on that.  He snuck off on us.  He's still got a place here, but his family is more up towards Atlanta and another baby and things like that.

Q.  Do you guys have any cool (inaudible) as a group?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  No, not really.

Q.  Any camaraderie?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah.  It's a nice group.  You know, they tend to call me Uncle Davis when they need something.  Other than that, it's a great group and they're a great influence on me.  You know, I've got Zach and Jonathan and so many great guys around here, got great guys to practice with.  And then we got guys coming up, Bud Cauley came up from Jacksonville and played with us one day last week.  We got great guys around to play golf with, to challenge, to push you.
And I hear it now from junior golfers, amateur golfers, they want to move here so they can work on their game because there's so many great players around here.  So I think it's just going to continue.

Q.  Who is the first named player who came here after you?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  That's a good question.  Would it be Jonathan Byrd maybe?  That was already on the TOUR?  There's a lot of guys that have tried to make it out of here, but the first guy that really was an established TOUR player that moved here was probably Jonathan.

Q.  And what year did you move here because of your dad, I'm sure?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah, I was moved here when I was like 14, 15.  We were in Atlanta.

Q.  Two completely different questions:  One, can you see yourself at all lobbying with the TOUR on mixing up some of the dates of these four domestic tournaments just given the fact as you mentioned, that it's hard to get some of the guys coming from so far away the week before?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Yeah.  I think‑‑ well, it's mixed up next year.  I think we're a lot earlier, two weeks earlier.  We're before Georgia‑Florida.  First thing we look at is when is Georgia‑Florida.  Make sure we miss that week.  So it is a little bit mixed up last year.
I can't quote you what the exact order is, but we're back in October next year, and I think we're before the Asia events next year.  Somebody back there say yes or no.  Are we before Asia next year?  I know we're in October.
MELANIE TROTTER:  October 28th.

Q.  Sounds like before to me.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Sounds like before to me.  But yeah, you know, there's a lot of things that‑‑ suggestions that if I was on the pack or the board, that I would make for the fall.  You know, there's a lot you can do with it.  It can always grow.  I know we don't want a tournament‑‑ we don't want to be like NASCAR where there's a tournament every week and it's too big a season, but you could certainly expand this time of year, you know, to other things, give maybe Sanderson Farms their own date, add another tournament, maybe even one of the tournaments in December make it more official, like another invitational event.  There's certainly‑‑ guys are going to play.  They say, we're not going to play.  Well, they play in the Shark Shootout.  They play in tiger's tournament.  Some of us play in the father‑son.  Guys still want to play golf.  I think that's always been Tim's attitude is if they're going to play, let's make it a PGA TOUR event and keep the ball rolling.  So I would lobby for that, yes.

Q.  And secondly, as a 49‑year‑old, how much do you pay attention to the number of what seems like a ton of young Americans coming through, one of them staying at your house this week, Uihlein, Justin Thomas, Luke Guthrie.  Just seems like they're crawling out of the woodwork.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I'm going to end up with two tonight.  We recruited Kevin Tway last night because we found out he was by himself at a hotel.  We got Kevin and Justin Thomas.

Q.  Why does this happen?  I'm sure it's cyclical, but why is there so many right now?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  I think you answered it.  There was a time we were saying what's the matter with American golfers; now they're all coming from Ireland?  It goes in cycles, and just like any other sport.
But you know, it's popular to play on the PGA TOUR now.  We're getting better and better athletes.  We're getting super‑fit young guys like Morgan Hoffmans and guys like that that are coming out.  They've started out at a young age and wanted to be on the PGA TOUR rather than play in the NBA or play football or baseball.  So I think that's part of it.
And you know, the junior golf programs are getting better.  The college programs are getting better.  You just look at the Oklahoma States and the Texases and Alabamas, they're cranking out TOUR players that aren't finishing school because they're so good.  So I think American golf is in a good place.
Now, that doesn't mean that in two years we're not saying, wow, look at all the kids from Korea and China because they're doing the same thing.  And there's a young man here from Kazakhstan that's here practicing and playing a lot, just won a big junior tournament, working with Randy Myers and Todd Anderson.  They're coming from everywhere.  So it's just going to go in cycles.

Q.  What's his name?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Big D.  I can't say his name.  Can't say it or spell it, but if he walks in here, I'll call him big D.  I think he's like 14.

Q.  What do you remember about Kevin Tway from when he was little and out here with Bob?  And what's it like when you're developing a career that you have a father that everyone kind of looks to first?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  Well, Bob and I need to learn a lot with our kids, like how to stay away from them, because they're really good, and not over‑coach them.
But you know, I was standing in the learning center Sunday afternoon, and I looked out the door and there's four guys practicing.  There's Hunter Hamrick and William McGirt and Kevin Tway, and I'm like it's unbelievable.  I remember him going to daycare when he was little bitty and Robin and Tammy going dropping the kids and going off to do the wives' function for the day.
It's just incredible that I'm playing in a tournament with Kevin Tway, and that's what I told Freddie in a text when I congratulated him the other day.  I said, "I'm going to stay out here.  I got Kevin Tway and Hunter Hamrick and Justin Thomas and all these kids that I've known and now wait on Drew Love to come out here.  It's pretty neat.  It's fun for me.
Now I see how Jay Haas felt when his kids were coming along or how Curtis Strange would feel when the kids would get older and then Billy Haas was on the TOUR and he's known Billy since he was a baby.  It's pretty neat to see that progression and to last that long.
I was complaining one time, I can't believe all these kids I knew are growing up and they're coming out on the TOUR, and they said, at least you're still playing with them.  It's fun to be out here and see it all happen.

Q.  Let's go to the other end of the age spectrum.  Fred Funk is playing this year on the TOUR this week.  Calc is playing.  I'm sure you've got enough gas in the tank and everything.  Is the same things that are helping these young kids, are you guys staying healthy, staying fit?  You know, Fred looks like he's, you know, in 25‑year‑old shape.  So does it work both ways in terms of getting those guys on the TOUR and you guys staying relevant?
DAVIS LOVE, III:  You know, like Jordon Spieth he had no status and his golf ball didn't know he didn't have any status, and you go out here and hit it good and make the putts, you can win no matter whether you're 19, 20 years old or if you're 50 years old.
If Freddie would have stayed healthy, he would have played a lot longer out here.  You look at a lot of guys, you know, and Fred Funk won THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP at 49.  So it can be done.  Tom Watson should have won the British Open.  Jack won the Masters at 46 playing part‑time kind of golf.  So I'm encouraged that if I just keep working hard, and stay healthy, I can still play.
It inspires you to see the young guys, but it also makes you aware that, hey, if I'm going to compete, I gotta follow them to the gym and I gotta keep working hard on my game, because there's a lot of guys that are ready to take your spot.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Anything else?  All right, Davis.  We appreciate your time.
DAVIS LOVE, III:  All right.  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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