What they said: Davis Love III

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June 27, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE: AT&T National transcript archive

MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome our U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love. You just got done playing the pro-am. You're about to make your fifth start at the AT&T National. If you want to talk a little bit about the course. It's a place where you finished T11 last year in the U.S. Open. If you want to talk about the course.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, the course, I just ran into Beau Hossler in there. I said, you're playing a lot of hard golf courses lately. It's another hard golf course, firm and fast greens. We played at 7:30 this morning, and they were pretty fast, getting faster. Yesterday afternoon they were pretty firm.

I'm sure we'll see U.S. Open type conditions, probably a lot firmer and faster than they were here when we played the U.S. Open. I think it's going to play tough. I've always enjoyed playing this golf course. I love this course, and I've played well here a few times.

MARK STEVENS: And also with your captain hat on, did you have any announcements to make today before we start questions?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I'd like to reannounce some announcements that Fred Couples let slip. But yeah, I'd like to announce that Mike Holbert, who's been a longtime friend of mine, and then of course Fred Couples, who's on a roll with the Presidents Cup and has gotten to know the team a lot, are going to support me and be assistant captains for the Ryder Cup. We're very excited that Mike and Fred agreed to do it.

So Mike and Fred and I are talking about our other two choices right now, and we've talked a lot about-- I've talked to Fred a lot since he's done so well the last couple years with the Presidents Cup team, talked to him a lot, gotten a lot of advice from him, been surprised at his level of detail and his commitment to the Presidents Cup. And I know that's why the guys are lobbying for him to do it over and over again, because he really has put a lot into it.

And as far as like Corey and Tom Lehman, they've given me a lot of support, as well. Fred and I have played a lot together, been on a lot of teams together, and it's been interesting to hear his side of it.

And then the three of us and a lot of other players, we've gotten together and decided that we think we'll go with the alternate shot format first in the mornings on Friday and Saturday. We feel like with our team, the way it's shaping up, the way it's played in the past, that's a good thing for us to do right off the bat in the morning. We feel like across the board, the players that I've talked to were either for it or heavily for it. So I think we have a lot of confidence that we're better at that format than people think we are, and we're going to go with that in the mornings and it'll give us more flexibility for having to make pairings in the afternoon for best ball, which is obviously easier to make pairings in the afternoon.

Q. When you said you were surprised at Fred's attention to detail, can you talk about what you meant by that??

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we know Fred's passion for team events. You know, playing matches with him, playing World Cups with him was pretty amazing, actually. People see Freddie, he makes it look so easy and he's got this nice swing and he's always smiling and waving. But what's going on in his head, I think, is completely different. He really has a lot of pride in his game. He tries, like all of us, tries too hard sometimes. It doesn't show, but he tries very, very hard.

And one thing that's always impressed me about Fred, when he was at the top of his game, if he shot 74 or 75 the first day, it was always 64 or 65 the next day it seemed like. He always bounced back quickly, took a lot of pride in what he did.

But I think on the teams, there was a reason Michael Jordan was assistant captain. It wasn't because Michael Jordan is really cool and a good basketball player and they were going to go hang out. There was a reason for that and there was a reason for picking guys early, there was a reason for everything he did. When you get him on the phone, which is difficult sometimes, when you get him going, he really doesn't stop talking about it, talking about the guys on the team and the things that he did.

It was just a lot of fun because I've had that, like I said, with Corey and Tom, and obviously been on a lot of teams. But to hear it from Freddie, who's grabbed a hold of a couple teams and gotten them to play really well, it was entertaining and very informative.

Q. What will make Holbert a good assistant??

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, one of the first phone calls I got when it was announced that I was going to be the captain was from Curtis, and he said, the best assistant captain in the history of the Ryder Cup was Mike Holbert. He was assistant for Curtis, and that was a lot of fun for me to play on that team because I had Mike Holbert there as well as Curtis. Curtis was still an intimidating player back then when he was the captain, and as a captain I was kind of nervous. To have Mike around, it was great.

But my first pairing on the PGA TOUR when I was an amateur was Mike Holbert and Ken Green. So Mike Holbert and I have been on-- even before I was on TOUR he's been one of my friends, and I've stayed with him hundreds of times in hotel rooms and houses across the TOUR, and he's been a close, close friend of mine for a long time. Those two were my natural choices. My next two are going to be harder. In Freddie I've got somebody that's in contact with a lot of the players that have played on the team, but he's not out here every week, and Hub knows a lot of guys out here and a lot of guys know him. He's one of those kind of the favorite hang guys, you know, around the TOUR.

But still, there's going to be some younger players that don't know him and don't see him every week, and so I'm going to need to fill those gaps with guys that are out here playing maybe or out every week that can help me-- like Corey did with Paul Goydos and myself. We had two guys-- Paul and Corey are close friends, but Corey and I haven't seen each other a lot in the last few years, but he said, I need you because you're going to be out there playing with these guys every week.

That's what Fred and Mike and I are doing right now is trying to figure out who's the best fit for the next two.

But I talk to Hub every other day. Hub calls me every other day, and we can't get a hold of Fred, so it kind of balances out. (Laughter.)

Q. Of all the captains you've played for, who do you think your style is going to be most like, Presidents or Ryder Cup??

DAVIS LOVE III: That's a great question. I don't know the answer to that, really. I'm thinking more on how are we going to set the golf course up and how am I going to handle these big speeches and what am I going to do in the team room if I have to get up and say something. I told Bubba, you and I are going to be crying a lot probably if we have to get up and talk at this Ryder Cup. It's going to be emotional for me. I don't know what style.

I know that I want to make these guys have fun and relax and just go play. Now, how I'm going to do that, I don't know. I've talked to Morris Pickens, Bob Rotella, Dr.Coop about it casually already, and we're going to talk about it formally. How do we make this like a practice round or a regular round of golf or like the last nine holes of a PGA TOUR event where we're used to relaxing and playing and playing our own game and not trying too hard? That's going to be my goal. Now, how I'm going to do that, I haven't quite figured that out yet.

Q. We get this little sheet with the eight people that on top are at least in as of today. How much change do you think there's going to be in that eight, and are any of them in your mind from where they are on the list a lock right now??

DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know, I've been asking that the last few weeks, when are we going to know if a guy is mathematically locked, and then Bubba knocked Jason out of the first spot last week. I don't know. I don't know if anybody is a lock yet or not with two majors left and a lot of tournaments.

But now we're getting down to time when guys maybe are going to play four more times before the PGA. I don't know how much golf these guys are going to play, how volatile it will be, how volatile it's been in the past. But certainly from 5 to 15 you're probably going to see some shifting around between now and then.

Q. Once you know that somebody is kind of locked in, how much will you work with them or talk with them about the guys that you want to pick or assistant captains or anything else about the team??

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, there's a few names on there that have played a whole bunch of Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups that I'm already talking to. You know, go down to like Furyk, guys like that, just sat with Justin Leonard for a couple minutes when I came off the golf course, guys like that I'm talking to already. We talked about on the golf course yesterday, Jim Furyk and I, how do you set up a Ryder Cup golf course, is there a way to set it up to favor one team or the other. Not how do you set up Medinah, but that was kind of the question is is there-- when you look at this list, you've got a variety from 1 to 20 of so many different style of players, can you set up a golf course that favors the top 20? I don't know if you can do that. So Jim and I were talking about that. Talked to several guys about it.

But I will rely heavily on Mickelson, Woods and Furyk and guys like that, and they've already been helpful and continue to be. I think Corey did a great job of that, of organizing guys, talking to guys, getting a feel for what guys wanted. That's how we did the foursomes versus fourball. We talked a lot about it, polled a lot of guys. Talked to Stricker, Furyk, Mickelson, Couples, a whole bunch of guys about that.

Not trying to do this by committee, but I keep saying I need people around me to give me advice, and then I have to make a decision. But we've been through this enough-- I know sitting in that week of the Ryder Cup, there's a whole lot of discussion about pairings and a whole lot of discussion about who should sit out, who should be in the envelope. And I think Corey did a good job of instead of having so much conversation that week, he spread it out over months, so when he got there, we didn't have to do quite-- Paul did a great job of that with his whole system he put together, and when they got there, they knew what they were doing.

I don't want anybody at the TOUR Championship wondering, oh, my gosh, what are we going to do next week, has he thought about pairings, who am I going to play with. I want guys to know generally what the game plan is, so when we get there, we're going to have fun. We're going to enjoy the week. We're not going to be running and, as Freddie said, the young guys aren't going to be wondering what we talk about when we all go off in a closed room.

I remember clearly at the Belfry sitting in one hotel room and watching Watson and Kite and Floyd and all these guys walk out and I'm like, oh, my gosh, where are they going, they're going to sit me out. I want these guys to know what's going on so they don't worry about it. There's a lot of stuff that goes on that doesn't necessarily have to do with sitting guys out or a lot of decisions to be made, things to be said. The guys that have done it a bunch go sit in a room and talk about it.

It's going to be the U.S. Team, I think to answer Rex's question. It's going to be the U.S. Team and not going to be necessarily my team, and I'm not going to try to-- I'm going to try to get everybody together on the same page, on the same team.

I love the way the team is shaping up, the way they're playing. I'm just going to be the guy that makes sure we have a bus to get them to the first tee on time.

Q. You talked about wanting the players to be more relaxed and have more fun. In your six Ryder Cups do you think you always did a good job going into those matches relaxed??

DAVIS LOVE III: That's why I'm telling you this. That's why I hope these guys keep hearing me say it, because I didn't do a very good job. I was so nervous. We were talking about Tom Kite's Ryder Cup and that Tom should have picked himself because Tiger and Justin and I went over there and stunk the place up, and we were all three major champions, and we were supposed to lead the team. Justin and I especially, we wanted to win for Tom Kite, and we tried too hard and we didn't putt very well, and we got behind and we felt the pressure. I don't know if between the three of us if we got two points. That's not what we needed.

So if there's a guy on this team that thinks, well, I really want to help Davis win, I want to be on his team, I want to help him win, I don't want that. I want them to go relax and have fun and enjoy it because I know that there was teams that I missed because I tried too hard, and there's teams that I played on that I didn't play well because I tried too hard, and I don't want them doing that.

And I saw it in four or five of the guys at Wales, they were just relaxed and free-wheeling and having fun, and I saw four or five guys that were trying really, really hard to be the team leader and to win that point.

It's easier said than done. If you catch a guy at the turn at the Masters on Sunday and go, okay, play this nine like you did the first nine on Thursday, okay, that's a great theory. It's hard to do. And that's what I think-- why we all work with sports psychologists is try to get better at that. If I can do one thing or two things during the week that help them relax, make them feel more prepared, make it more fun, then maybe we can get that one point that we always seem to need.

Q. You talked about Beau Hossler at the start. What's your impression of his game and what you've seen of him??

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, what I've seen is just him handle it very well. I met him last week briefly or two weeks ago briefly and said hello to him in the locker room, so I haven't seen him hit a live shot yet. I've seen him on TV. But playing great, and obviously handles the spotlight well. What's amazing is so many of these guys, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth and Hunter Hamrick, these guys just pop right up in big tournaments and look like they've been doing it their whole lives. It's just amazing that they're that well spoken and polished, focused.

Rickie came out here mature and ready to go, Rickie Fowler. It wasn't like we needed to break him in, you know? You can take Rickie to a pro-am draw party and show some of the veterans how to do it. He knows what he's doing. It's amazing how these guys are coming out and the programs they're coming out of, like Alabama and Texas. They're well-coached and well-trained and smart kids. It's nice to see.

But I'm looking forward to spending some time with Beau. He's going to be playing against my son in college, so hopefully we'll see him around a lot.

Q. What are your thoughts about the setup of Medinah??

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I know the members seem pretty happy right now because we don't have the rough very long. We really haven't made any hard and fast decisions yet. Until we see what the team looks like, it's hard to have a short-hitting team these days, so we're probably going to be a long-hitting team, and how do you set it up to your advantage? I don't know. I would think that the shorter rough, more creative shot making, firm, fast greens like we've been playing. Gosh, seems like the last four tournaments I've played, they've all been-- Memorial's greens were smoking fast, Memphis were fast, these are going to be fast. That's what we're used to over here.

We're used to making a lot of birdies, too. I think if you set it up where it's a par putting contest, maybe it takes us out of our comfort zone a little bit.

We did real well at Olympic obviously as an American group, so I think we can adapt. But it's hard to say that the golf course you set up for Bubba and Phil and Tiger suits Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk. I don't know if you can-- again, I don't know if there's one perfect way to do it. Some guys have had some theories.

If the team guys into it and it's their idea and they think it's going to work, then that's probably a good theory no matter what it is. That's kind of where we're leaning is what do our guys think is best for us.

I certainly saw that with Paul. He got them to buy into a system, and they all thought it was great, and they went out and played really well. I don't know if it's the system or the attitude, but we've got to get that attitude that, hey, we've got this golf course-- we love this golf course, we're going to play well on it whatever the setup is. I think that's how we need to do it.

But Medinah is Medinah. We've played there twice. It's going to be a big, hard, long golf course no matter what we do.

Q. The most important decision you have to make, what would that be??

DAVIS LOVE III: I guess accepting the captaincy is a monumental decision. That was quite a question and a fun answer. I don't know. That's a good question. I think Fred and Mike in staging this before-- I talked to Fred all the way back in January, so he did pretty well to keep it under his hat all the way to Memorial.

But talking to Fred about how we were going to do this, working with them on picking the other two, I think staging this is different than we've done in the past, but I am waiting on a couple guys to see how they play, where they fit in the mix of the points list. I'm obviously still thinking about my brother, what's his role going to be. He's been involved in everything I've done in golf since we went to the '85 Q-school. I told him I want him there sitting in the golf cart with me, but it might be better if he wasn't an assistant captain, just sit in the golf cart and tell me what to do. Help me with if a guy's swing is off. I'd love to have my brother there-- if some guy says, I'm hitting it bad, come watch me hit balls; okay, bring my brother, somebody that knows what they're doing. So I want him around, but I don't know if being an assistant captain is the most effective role for him.

I thought of the same thing with Hub. I thought maybe Hub isalmost -- I need him to go do something else, and then Freddie and I and Hub all sat down and said this is going to be too much fun, we all want to do this together.

And then we've got probably four guys on the list for the other two spots. It just depends, like I said, which direction, what kind of holes we want to plug with those other two.

Q. When will you expect to know??

DAVIS LOVE III: Fred's confirmation. I don't know, is he playing next week?

Q. Fred will be announcing the other assistants??

DAVIS LOVE III: Now I can start lobbying him to be assistant for his team if I don't make it next time because I've been looked over twice already.

Q. Is there one thing that you'll take, a lesson from your dad??

DAVIS LOVE III: That's a good question. I always thought in '99 that Crenshaw was going to throw a bunch of Harvey Penick stuff at us, and he never really did. He never said, "take dead aim" or-- and I need to talk to Ben. I think I've said that to some of you guys before, I need to talk to Ben and find out what the strategy was on that. If we just got so far behind and panicked and forgot to say, "take dead aim" or there was a calculated reason.

Not a lot of guys on that team know my dad or know who he is, but there will be some Harvey Penick comments come out because that's all I ever heard growing up. Simple, straightforward, no-pressure ideas are important.

Now, there's some coaches that I've talked to and there's some other guys like former President Bush, guys that I want to talk to about what do you say in those kind of pressure situations and leadership positions? Is it better to say a little or better to say a lot? I don't think we need to get these guys fired up. That's my thing. I think some highlight videos of them making putts is great, but I don't think we need to have a go-get-'em speech every night.

I think, again, Corey did a great job with that. We were a team of, whatever, 20 or 30 people, and we were having fun and organized and ready to go, but there wasn't a whole lot of, "we've got to win this, boys," speeches.

I've watched with interest some of those behind-the-scenes like NFL stuff and NCAA basketball tournament locker room coach speeches. I've watched them a little bit differently now. I've talked to Bob Rotella a lot about what Coach Calipari said to his team all year, things like that.

I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to say yet. Maybe less is better.

Q. When you talked about Olympic and how we did so well there, obviously they had other things that they did to that golf course. The rough was up there, but they had chipping areas and other things. Have you thought about other things you can do at med outside of taking the rough down that might be advantageous to us??

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, when I say rough down, Curtis Tyrell, he's got-- once you get off the tee, it just gets a little bit wider than normal and it's just down where he can either leave it down or he can bring it up. He said if it's really long, it's going to be hard for me to knock it down. If all of a sudden you say I want it an inch and I've got it two or three inches, so let's keep it in the middle where I can go a little down or I can go up the last month.

So that's where we are on the rough.

But I think you're right, chipping around the greens is more important really. I don't want drive in the rough, chip out. I think we had that like Detroit, drove it in the rough, you chipped out. It just played so hard, you couldn't ever really get close. There was a lot of par putts, a lot of holes-in-one with pars. I think we want to at least tie or win holes with birdies because that gets the fans excited.

That's a big, long golf course, so leaving it where you can get some chip-ins around the greens where you're not just trying to get it on the green, be more creative on the greens. I don't know if that style of architecture lends itself to a whole lot of runoffs and chip-in areas, but I think a variety -- what we've learned on the TOUR the last six or eight years in player surveys is we need some variety. We need some risk-reward, we need some hard holes, some easy holes, we need some chipping, some pitching. It shouldn't all just be hack it out of the rough. I think we got to that point for a while, and now we're tending to go the other way, which is nice.

Q. Given what transpired at Memorial with spectators and cell phones and some players raising concerns about that, what are your feelings on the policy and its enforcement and if it's even possible to enforce it properly.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, being on the board that passed the rule that allowed cell phones, I look back when we had those box cameras, it's always something that's a distraction, whether it's guys yelling or the advent of first having cell phones and then them ringing and getting rid of them and now the cameras. But it's become such a part of the fans, the sponsors, the staff, everybody's life is your device. It's not necessarily your phone. It's everything-- it's your whole business, and it's hard to tell sponsors to leave their phones back when they're doing business.

So I think we have to learn to deal with it. We dealt with a lot of different kinds of distractions. The tournaments are getting better. Certainly after that Thursday, Friday, the weekend at Memorial, that kind of awakened the marshaling crew on how it should be done. It was much better on the weekend. I think we're still in that learning phase. And we tried it I think like four or five tournaments as a test, and the ones-- when you're testing it, they're trying really hard to marshal it, and I think each individual-- not to knock different tournaments, but some tournaments do it very, very well and some are learning, just like they do with access to the range, just like they do with any-- the transportation. Some tournaments do it better than others, and we just need to get everybody on the same page, and I think it'll be fine.

The players have to get used to it, as well. We want the fans out there, and we want them happy, and I always say if you go sit and watch what these fans do to get to a golf tournament, we don't need to punish them more by making them leave their cell phones.

The more we talk about it, the more the fans realize, hey, that does bother them when we take a picture. They'll catch on, as well. I think we're early in the curve, so hopefully it's going to get better.

MARK STEVENS: Thanks for your time, Davis. Good luck this week.

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