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November 4, 2003

Davis Love III


TODD BUDNICK: We'd like to welcome Davis Love to the interview room. Davis Love III, four time winner this year on Tour. AT&T, Pebble Beach, THE PLAYERS Championship, MCI Heritage and The International. Davis, an incredible year at age 39. How does this compare to any of your top years, particularly 1992, when you won three times and finished 2 on the Money List? Is this year right up there with that.

DAVIS LOVE: I definitely think it is my best year, other than winning a Major. I have done pretty much everything I could this year. I won all different ways and won some nice tournaments. Obviously winning THE PLAYERS Championship is the next best thing. So I've hung in there all year. I played top-10 golf at some point every month. Been pretty steady this year. So I'm pretty happy with the way I played. Other than winning a Major, it's been a great, great year.

Q. Can you recall there ever being more interest in this event at this point in the year, in your tenure here?

DAVIS LOVE: No, I think that certainly the tournament's grown and people understand it better now. They like watching guys try to get in the top 30 and they know that it's going on all year now. Certainly that there is a Player of the Year race, and up until last week there was a pretty good Money Title race. And it's still mathematically possible that Tiger could beat Vijay on the Money List. So people are catching on, I think. It's a great tournament and it's obviously a special treat to get into it. But then it's also the best players in it. It's a hard tournament to win.

Q. What was your impression of Copperhead last week? Had you played there before?

DAVIS LOVE: No, I played there in the mixed team. Quite a bit there. Not under those conditions. Deep rough and fast greens. It was a tough golf course. We played some fast greens the last couple weeks. We've played this type of golf, deep rough and fast greens for a few weeks in a row. So the Copperhead course played very, very hard. And it was a good warm-up for this.

TODD BUDNICK: Davis, after this obviously we have all the individual honors going on this week and that, but down the road a couple weeks we have the Presidents Cup. Mike Weir made a little comparison about playing hockey and misses the days of team competition. You guys have that same feeling.

DAVIS LOVE: We're looking forward to it. We're starting to talk about pairs and things that -- first of all, how we're getting there. Who is going on the charter and who we want to sit by going down. For a long trip. A whole day. So it's starting to come together. It's hard when it's at the end of the season. It's hard to imagine that it's really just a week and a half away we have to leave. It's sneaking up on us and we're starting to make plans. The clothes are in and I haven't tried them on, but they're in. It's time to get ready.

Q. As a 39-year-old, Vijay's got you by a few months, do you find it admirable that a guy could be having the year that he's having and by extension the same for you, at age 40, especially given the amount of work that guy puts in?

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah, it's amazing, his stamina. Obviously he's used to beating balls all the time, so maybe that's part of it. Other than a pulled muscle here or there, he just doesn't have anything to slow him down. You look at a guy like Fred Couples who obviously has struggled for four or five years or eight years with his back. Guys hit a point, Jerry Pate's or whoever, just go down the list, guys are great, Johnny Miller's, were great, great players and had their careers slowed, not ended but slowed, and they weren't the top player. They were in their 40s or their career ended earlier because of backs, nagging things, shoulders, elbows. It's amazing that he's put that much work in, that much pounding of his body and it's taken it for that long. That's what we have been saying about Tiger all along. We were concerned that that speed with that much repetition wrists and elbows and backs carrying that much strain, how long can it last. Some of us are speaking from experience that it doesn't last forever. It's amazing what he's done. We tease him about staying out there in the long time on the range. But we all wish that we had a little bit of that in us, that we could hang with him. I don't think there's anybody that can do it like that.

Q. Among the Tour players, is it more prestigious to get the Player of the Year award or the money title or does it matter?

DAVIS LOVE: I don't know. You look at a lot of different things when you look at the money title. Obviously with Vijay and Tiger you look at dollars per start. You got to look at it that way. Tiger obviously is not going to play the schedule that Vijay plays. I don't know. Money can get a little skewed. I won some tournaments with some big purses. And Vijay won some tournaments that didn't have as big purses as the ones I won. So it's hard sometimes. The Money List is harder to relate as maybe not the best indicator. Like in NASCAR, where you get the same amount of points in the point standing no matter what the race is. That's why you see their money is all over the place, but their points, you can tell how you've been doing consistency-wise. It's a good indication of the kind of year you've had, but it's not, I don't think maybe it's as important as Player of the Year, because if you won two Majors and another golf tournament and somebody else won the money titles, you obviously would be Player of the Year with just three wins, if they were quality wins like two Majors. So it's hard to say.

Q. This has been a great year for veterans. You've won four times, and all these guys in their 40s have won. Is there a reason other than just experience?

DAVIS LOVE: Well I said kind of in the middle of the year that's what should have been happening before and it wasn't happening. There were some guys, myself included, that weren't playing up to their potential. Up to where they wanted to play. So it was a little bit of a back to the way everybody thought it should be going. And I think a little bit of it is that you see guys doing it and obviously go along with them. A guy like Kenny Perry inspires a lot of people, who say, Hey, Kenny's playing good, we can all follow along with him. And Jay Haas, it's fun to watch a guy like that play good. He's a veteran guy that's a great player and then obviously you get inspirational ones like Freddie. I guess part of it is just success of the older guys breeds more success for us. I think there's a swing in everything. We talked about it last year with first-time winners. Those happened. Some things in sports just happen. They go in cycles. Those guys all had their sophomore slumps, kind of, and didn't come and win immediately again. And a lot of the veteran guys took up the slack.

Q. If Tiger and Vijay don't win this week, is it possible that Tiger might lose votes simply because he's won it four times in a row or that Vijay might lose votes since it's a popular vote and anonymous? He might lose votes because he's not perhaps the most personable human being on the planet earth?

DAVIS LOVE: I think that Vijay off the golf course around the players is a lot better liked than people think he is. He's fun to be around and he's challenging. I just don't think he does a very good job when he walks off the 18th green. Vijay and I had a great time playing Sunday when he was winning at Disney. He's fun to be around. He's a little bit like into the David Duval category. He's shy when he gets in front of people. And he's defensive when he shouldn't be. Because nobody's really out to get him, even though he thinks they are. But Vijay's fun. I don't think Vijay would lose votes in the locker room, no.

People get tired of the same guy winning all the time. Yeah, maybe Tiger might lose a couple, but I don't know. I still hear a lot of talk about Mike Weir around the locker room and not as much out in the public. I keep saying this last week or two when you sit down and read there will be five names probably on the ballot. And you'll read their stats rather than talking about it. You'll be by yourself in a room and you'll go, oh, he averaged, he made 12 top-10s or he averaged 300,000 an event. You take things into consideration more on a year-long basis rather than we know who is playing the best right now. That's Vijay. Maybe that doesn't overshadow that another guy had more quality wins or another guy won a Masters. So I think guys will vote more on record than on names, probably in the end.

Q. Your ballot has a whole bunch of stats on it, just doesn't have five names?

PLAYER: Yeah, it has a little synopsis.

Q. Who writes that synopsis?

DAVIS LOVE: A bio. Todd probably does.

TODD BUDNICK: I don't know.

Q. That's important.

DAVIS LOVE: I think it's just stats. He won these four tournaments and he won this much money and he's number three in the world and he had 12 top-10s and he made the Presidents Cup team or whatever it says. Summarizes the year. And it gives you a reason to vote for the guy kind of paragraph.

Q. What's the most time you've ever spent over your ballot?

DAVIS LOVE: Filling it in?

Q. Yes.

DAVIS LOVE: I've spent a lot more time probably looking -- because I've -- gosh, eight or nine, ten times been on the committee to set the ballot up. I spent a lot more time on that. Weighing the options so probably by the time I get to it, I already know who I'm going to vote for. But the most time is probably spent on Rookie of the Year probably than anything. Player of the Year is usually fairly cut and dried. Obviously it's not this year, because we have been talking about it for six weeks. But player of the Year is usually more cut and dried.

Q. Is the policy, as a policy board guy for years, do you have a feeling of how many guys send in their ballot, what kind of percentage you get of them?

DAVIS LOVE: I think they get a real good percentage. It's better than the player survey, for sure. They get a pretty good percentage. I don't know what it is. But I know that they go after them pretty hard. If they're not in, they go, they try to round them up.

Q. E-mail them and say get it in?

DAVIS LOVE: Yeah or sometimes get two. As a hint.

Q. Or they will send you another one?


Q. Do you think many votes would be different if it was disclosed who people voted for?

DAVIS LOVE: I don't think it would be different. Again, I think guys vote on record. More than anything.

Q. Who gets the vote? The top?

TODD BUDNICK: Anybody with 15 starts.

Q. With 15 starts, right?

DAVIS LOVE: Very good question. I did not know that. I'm glad he was here to answer that.

Q. How significant do you think Tiger Woods going 114 tournaments without missing a cut is?

DAVIS LOVE: I think it's very, very significant. Obviously there's a bunch of tournaments that there was no cut. I don't think that he would have missed any cuts in those because he won most of them. How many World Golf Championships has he won, 7 or 8?


DAVIS LOVE: 8. So I don't think he's had any worries at the bottom of a World Golf Championship or a TOUR Championship that he would have missed a cut. But it's a little easier with those events in there. But it's obviously five times more than anybody else currently. So it's pretty incredible record. I think in this day and age with the exposure and the depth of field it's probably a better record than anybody else has ever put up in cuts.

Q. As professional as you are, Davis, is it very hard on occasion, on a Friday, to stick with it when you know you're playing well, but you know you're not going to win the tournament?


Q. To be that professional?

DAVIS LOVE: Not for me, it's hard for a lot of guys. It's not a priority for a lot of guys to just make a cut or just climb back into the top 20. But it's obviously a pride thing with some people like Tiger that I'm just not going to miss a cut or I'm not going to give in. I'm not going to just mail it in on Sunday. I'm going to shoot the best round of the day or something. I don't think he ever considers letting up from winning either. We always feel like you make the cut, you can still win. Obviously maybe not in Vegas, but in a lot of places you can make the cut and still win the golf tournament if you play good. It's been done quite a bit. So I think that's just part of his nature of why he's so good is he doesn't want to give up no matter what.

TODD BUDNICK: All right, thank you, Davis.

DAVIS LOVE: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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