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April 16, 2014

Davis Love III


JOE CHEMYCZ:  We welcome Davis Love back to the interview room.  Davis, a five‑time winner of this event, and I guess just welcome back.  It's been a couple of years since you were here.
DAVIS LOVE:  Yeah, unfortunately I was out with injuries both the last two years, so it's nice to be back.
I was so excited to play a practice round.  Somebody said, "Have you ever played a practice round there?"  I said, "I am this year."  I haven't seen the new tees and stuff.  And I got out there and hit it off the 10 and they blew the horn.  So I didn't get a practice round.  I got one today.  I saw a different golf course today than we were used to with all that wind.
Excited to be back and looking forward to it.

Q.  You've had great success here.  Would you mind talking about the course and the event itself.  A lot of the players, it's one of their favorite events of the year.
DAVIS LOVE:  Well, it's one of my favorite events of the year.  It's always great to come here.  It's a tradition in our family.  In fact, the last two years I didn't play, but my wife was still here.  She had a great time watching Brandt and whoever else play, all the guys, Zach.  It's a great golf course, classic, you know, original Pete Dye, and fun to play, and great event.  They do a great job here.
Now it's back in its growing mode with RBC and Boeing, really breathing a new life into it.  And the Sea Pines group is really stepping up with facilities and just nice to see it on a roll again.

Q.  Happy birthday.
DAVIS LOVE:  Thank you.

Q.  You don't watch TV or the Masters, but had you watched, you would have seen Freddie and Langer and Miguel, well past 50 competing.  Do you look at that and get motivation?
DAVIS LOVE:  I look at it all the time.  I look at Tom Watson and Greg Norman having a great chance to win at the Open Championship.  Both of them would have, should have, could have won an Open Championship very late in their career.  I texted Freddie the other day, "You'll get another one before 60."  He's been so close.  Just one round away from several more Masters, from his late 40s to early 50s.
Obviously if Fred hadn't had the back issues, he would have done a whole lot more in the game.  But when he's feeling well, he's still competitive.  Doesn't matter if he's shooting 15 or 18 under in the Champions Tour or you put him in the Masters or the LA, he's ready to go.  I think if he played not full‑time, but played 16 or 17 out here, he'd still have a chance to win.  I felt the same way with Greg Norman.  If he completely focused on golf until today, he probably would still be able to win a golf tournament.  I think he went so hard for so long that it was time to quit, like Jack.  So hard for so long.  But Jack won the Masters playing part‑time really, his last Masters, he wasn't completely focused on just playing golf.
I know if I play hard and play well like those guys I can still have a chance, not as many chances, but I've still got a chance.

Q.  You mentioned when you played a practice round today you saw some different challenges on the course.  Are you saying a different course than you were used to?  What's different?
DAVIS LOVE:  The weather made it‑‑ I'm not used to hitting driver, 3‑iron into 18.  But the weather made it tough, obviously, earlier.  But there's a few new tees that I hadn't seen.  They made a few changes.  Like that tee on 3 was an eye opener.  And you could really back 18 up now.  And 16 obviously across the road.  So not being here the last couple of years, a few little things like that.  It's just distance, but it's little things that I needed to see.
The course is in great shape, very similar to what I'm used to.  Obviously I get up on‑‑ I made a putt on 5 and I said, you know, I know this always breaks a little bit more than you think, and I made it.  That makes you feel good when you know the golf course well enough and you can pop right in and have experience on it.

Q.  Are you decided where you'll spend more time in the coming years?  And did missing the last two seasons, or parts of the last two seasons with injuries, have an impact on what you'll be doing the next couple of years?
DAVIS LOVE:  Well, it has an impact certainly on this year.  We're halfway through the season, really.  And so I've played, I don't know, ten or 11 times already on the regular Tour.  And I want to keep focused on that.  I want to try to qualify for the U.S. Open, qualify for the British.  If I want to get in the British, I have to play all the events that get you into the British now.  There's not a two‑round qualifier anymore.
So I've got a lot of goals.  Obviously I'm grinding, trying to get in THE PLAYERS Championship right now.  I don't know how I would do that.  I guess winning takes care of a lot of things.
But I want to focus on this Tour.  Because like you said, I missed five action six, seven weeks two years ago with a rib injury and then last year with the surgery, missed three‑plus months.  So I want to give it another shot out here and play as much as I can.  There are some tournaments that I'd like to play on the Champions Tour that I'm already looking at, filling in the blanks.  I'm not going to be in‑‑ if I'm not in THE PLAYERS, obviously there's a hole in my schedule.  If I'm not in the U.S. Open, there's a hole in my schedule, so you can fill it.
But I got an exemption for Colonial.  I love playing Colonial.  Nothing more than I'd like to have my name on that wall and that plaid jacket.  So that leaves me out of the Senior PGA.  And I've seen Corey and Tom Lehman and a lot of guys‑‑ that's one of our favorite tournaments and we like to play there.
I'm going to focus on this Tour for right now and know that there's a lot of events out there that are asking me to play and that I'd like to play.  I've got that in my back pocket, so that's nice.

Q.  Welcome back to Harbour Town.  You were the 2013 recipient of the Bobby Jones Award.  Could you talk about what that meant to you.
DAVIS LOVE:  Well, it meant a lot to, I guess, my family.  My brother and I certainly had great leadership from our dad who looked up to guys like Bobby Jones and Harvey Penick and the guys that set the standards for class and style in the game.  So to have my name thrown in with them is quite an honor and I really appreciated it.

Q.  Obviously Tom's here to kind of meet people and get to know people.  Two years ago when you were going through that same process, what was that like?  Were players coming up to you all the time saying, "Hey, did you see what I did last week?" or "Did you notice how I've been playing?"  Does it get to be a grind when you're seeing them every week?
DAVIS LOVE:  They didn't say that, and that was weirder, because you knew what we were all thinking.
At the Masters we were playing a practice round and Mark Wilson and somebody cut in front of us at 10 and he was walking off the front of the tee and he turned back around and said, "I probably shouldn't have done that, should I?" "Nope, shouldn't have done it."  There was some fun stuff like that you pick on guys, especially your friends.
No, I was lucky in that most of the guys that were in the running, guys I competed with for a while or knew.  Jordan is smart.  Jordan has alreadylaid his groundwork.  He's making sure he knows who Tom Watson is, and Tom Watson knows who he is.  Obviously that's a bonus this week.  Tom is in a different situation and that's one of the several things we've talked about is that if he needs somebody out here that knows these guys, I was just with Jordan‑‑ Hilary and I were talking about Jordan's stories at the Presidents Cup.  I've seen Jordan's matches.  Stricker was coming up to me after three holes, saying he was nervous.  Yeah, he's nervous.  Sure, he is.  A year ago he wasn't even on Tour.  Think about it.  Tell him a joke or something (laughter).
I saw him walk into that team room that first night and I watched him play his first match.  And I watched him play his last match.  And watched him make a hole‑in‑one in the practice‑‑ I was standing on the fringe of the green on 12, when he made that hole‑in‑one.  I can give Tom a lot of information on a guy like him and Rickie Fowler, I can help him out with that and be glad to.
It will be fun tomorrow, or this next two days, for me to get to play with Tom Watson and watch Jordan play with him.  If you noticed, Jordan is ready to go.  He doesn't need much help except to show up on time.

Q.  Along those same lines, flash back two years at this point when you were the captain.  How far along in the process were you at the time?  Did you have a handle on what your team was going to look like?
DAVIS LOVE:  Well, you don't really know, because you have so many Majors left, so many points left out there.
Now it's kind of the phase of you finished with the clothes and you finished with the hotel rooms and all that stuff.  And now we can start thinking about golf and start watching golf.
How Bubba played last week really doesn't have any bearing on how he's going to play at the Ryder Cup.  But the points you can start watching now a little bit and say, well, maybe these three or four guys are going to be a lock.
But still it's a long way.  It's a long way away.  But I think Tom is now making that shift into let's play golf rather than the organizational, structural stuff.  Now it's going to start getting a little bit more fun, more into what he's going to be really good at is golf strategy and matching up his players.
But sitting down and thinking about pairings and those kinds of things was a little bit farther down the road.  Now I was talking to Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker and Mickelson just about things, you know, just starting to lay some groundwork and playing practice rounds, making sure I was out there playing with the right guys.  I didn't need to go out and just play a random practice round.  Play with somebody that you might learn something or you might get somebody more comfortable and start doing things like that.

Q.  One of the Champions Tours events that you might have played would have been on the way home for you next week.  Are you a little disappointed that you're not going to get a chance to play The Legends in Savannah, make a debut really in your own backyard?
DAVIS LOVE:  Yeah, that's too bad the tournament is gone.  I know that our tournament and this tournament are both trying to grab all those people and volunteers and sponsors and divvy them up evenly.  Get some of them down to Sea Island and some of them here.  It's really too bad because it was such a great event.  The players loved it.  Obviously it's moved on and still there.  But another home game would have been very nice, even closer to home.  It would have been the closest, actually, be closer than PLAYERS.
JOE CHEMYCZ:  Davis, thank you.
DAVIS LOVE:  Thank you.

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