2001 US Open - Davis Love III News Conference Transcript
Q. Speaking of the heat, what kind of factor is it going to play? Who does it benefit? Is it that big an issue?
DAVID DUVAL III: I think it's an issue that you have to be aware of, but obviously the guys that played in Memphis last week are used to it. We do it a lot. You have to make sure you drink lots of water, and I think it's a bigger effect on the guys that don't compete all the time. And when you get tired, you get mentally fatigued, and probably the better players are more equipped to handle it because they're used to playing under all different circumstances and handling their emotions better and concentrating better. Fatigue and concentration will go hand in hand. It will be a long, grueling week for a lot of guys.
Q. You've had some strong opinions in the past about when the rough at the U.S. Open got like real deep, like six, seven inches deep. And now that they've seemed to back off a little bit the last three years, your comments on what kind of tournaments you think that has produced in the last three years, and how you feel about having the chance to -- some chances to reach a green, even though you miss a fairway, which you didn't always have?
DAVID DUVAL III: I think seems like maybe starting in Washington when Ernie won, the courses, the setups have gotten more and more reasonable. There have been more chipping areas around the greens. I think they realize that the deep rough right around every green took shot-making out of it. There's nothing more exciting than seeing a player putt with his 3-wood up the hill or hit different kinds of shots, rather than hitting an L-wedge or 60 degree wedge out of the deep rough on every green. But I think they realize that you can make a penalty without making it a hay field. And I think this rough you're going to find is going to be more challenging than if it was really, really deep. Because now you have to make a decision: Well, can I hit a flyer to get it near the green; or if you're in a good lie, one guy is going to hit it close, and the next guy is going to blow it way over the green. There's nothing scarier than dry Bermuda. You're going to get some deep spots and rough light spots that are going to be just as difficult. You'll see more guys going at the greens, and more guys having problems because they're able to go for the greens. When the Walker Cup is coming to Ocean Forest -- and if you can keep it where they can hit flyers, it's going to drive them crazy, rather than make it so deep that everyone chips out and hits the same shot on the green. It becomes a risk/reward shot every time you hit it in the rough, rather than just a penalty.
Q. Davis, are your expectations any lower this time around because of the circumstances?
DAVID DUVAL III: Well, I'm just trying to use the way that I've come into this Open as a positive, rather than a negative; that I'm well relaxed, I'm well rested, I haven't been struggling with my game or anything. And if I can turn everything into a positive, that guys just coming into the locker room saying, 'Man, it's hot out there,' and I didn't even get hot today, I played nine holes early. I'm trying to use everything I can as a positive. And expectations are: I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could come and play and win. I would probably need another week or two off. So my expectations are the same, and just a little bit different preparation. Trying to use the David Duval model of 'laying off doesn't always hurt you'.
Q. And secondly, can you just give us a brief recap of what it is that kept you on vacation?
DAVID DUVAL III: Well, I had -- I have a bulging disk in my neck. Just a slight bulge. And I think the combination of preparing for the spring tournaments, The Masters and THE PLAYERS Championship and playing 36 in Atlanta just all kind of piled up on me at once. And I basically injured myself or bruised my -- something around my spine in my neck that just needed time to calm down. And there's not much you can do when you have a nerve problem, other than let it rest or have surgery. And surgery is not a good option for a golfer. So, sure enough, waiting this long has made it a lot better.
Q. Was surgery an option?
DAVID DUVAL III: Well, it's always an option. But it's not always a good one when you need mobility. I think surgery would have gotten rid of the tingling and numbness in my fingers probably immediately, but what would it have done down the road as far as being able to play or have it come back. The theory now is just wait and see if you can get it to go away and not reinjure it. The trick for me is not to go out and hit 500 balls practicing and reinjure it. And then I can take next week off and be probably 100% ready to go for the rest of the summer. But my one mistake in this layoff was that I said, 'Oh, I feel good now,' and I went to Fort Worth, trying to get ready, and basically reinjured it again and had to wait another couple of weeks to get completely gone. But it's hard. When you go home, you don't have any symptoms -- I wanted to come back and play, and I just didn't give it quite enough time.
Q. When did you start hitting balls?
DAVID DUVAL III: I hit a few on Friday. I've hit -- maybe full shots, starting with ten or 15 on Friday, and I worked my way up to probably 60 or 70 full shots today. But I'm hitting it normal distances and I really haven't hit that many bad shots, because I'm concentrating on every one of them. When they give you half a bucket and say 'this is all you get to hit,' you seem to concentrate better. I've been pleasantly surprised. I actually feel stronger than when I stopped, because a lot of years of playing, and all of a sudden I got a nice little break there, where I didn't do anything. No exercising. Nothing. So I'm really fresh. I have to come back in the next few weeks and restart my exercising and restart my golf training. But right now, I feel great.
Q. Davis, as well as your season started out this year, before all this happened, did you have to battle any kind of 'woe is me,' before you can start thinking: 'I'm refreshed, I can go now'?
DAVID DUVAL III: Not really. I've always tried to stay positive. I had a lot of fun since Hilton Head. It was disappointing to go to a couple of tournaments and not get to play. But I spent a lot of great time with my kids and my family and doing things at home that I haven't been able to do in a long time. And I actually got to turkey hunt for the first time in my 15 years on Tour. So it was actually a nice break. I don't want it every year. I don't want to be hurting during THE PLAYERS, Masters time of year ever again. That was frustrating. But I never felt bad about it, except that I was getting myself a little bit behind the 8-ball for the Open. But now I feel good about it. My main goal after finding out I was going to have to take some time off is: 'Don't let me miss the Ryder Cup.' And as long as I can play the Open with a chance to do well, play the British Open, the PGA and maybe a few others and be ready for the Ryder Cup, I'll be happy. And yeah, I was off to a great start and I think I tried to get a little bit better and be more ready for The Masters, and I just pushed myself over the edge. And there's a reason for everything happening, and I think maybe I just realized that there's only so much I can do, and beating my head against the wall isn't going to make myself that much better, and I need to be patient with it.
Q. From what you remember in '94, '95 and '96, are the course conditions now going to be tougher or easier, and have you seen enough of the changes to make a determination to see if it will make a difference?
DAVID DUVAL III: I haven't seen all of them. But I think it will be tougher because of the length. And THE TOUR Championship, it was hard to grow this much rough, because of the time of the year. But I would say it will probably be a little harder, but not much.
Q. Davis, how long was the break when you didn't hit any balls at all, like maybe each of those times, when you started and stopped? And what was it kind of --?
DAVID DUVAL III: From Hilton Head until the Tuesday of New Orleans I didn't hit a ball. So that was a couple of weeks break. And then until the weekend before Colonial, again, I didn't hit any balls, so a few more days. And then since Tuesday at Colonial until Friday, this past Friday I didn't hit any balls. I had a couple of long stretches. And like I said, if I hadn't of hit balls -- if I hadn't of felt like I could go play Fort Worth and practice for three or four days, three days, then I would probably be 100%. I would have been playing maybe Memphis. But I just jumped out a little ahead. But it's hard to believe when you get a whole bunch of different opinions, it's hard to pick the right one to listen to. And, obviously, taking the conservative approach is always better. I just was a little anxious and didn't give it quite enough time.
Q. When the nerve was pinching, what was it like in your golf swing as far as what could you do with your swing and hold the club and everything else?
DAVID DUVAL III: The problem I was having, and it's been really -- started getting bad on the West Coast, was I would hit a shot and I would get a tingling in my fingers. And it would progressively get worse, and I would have either a little bit of a loss of strength or loss of power or a perceived lack of strength, and it was more -- it wasn't really that I was hurt. It was that you felt like something was tearing up. It was like a funny sound in the motor. It was still running good, but there was a funny sound; you knew something bad was about to happen. So I didn't take the hint early enough. But it never really hurt. It just felt funny. And when I hit a bad shot or felt something funny, it would put a little doubt in my mind of 'is it going to happen again, what's going on'; rather than 'I've hurt myself, I have to stop.' And it was more of a confusion thing than a straight-out: 'All right, I blew my knee out, I've got to go get it fixed.' It was a little bit more of a mental thing almost. I felt like I was 85%, 90%, and that was good enough, and I can win, and I can still play, and I want to keep playing. And maybe it will go away, and it just never would go away.
Q. Davis, in light of Tiger obviously being very much a favorite as he always is every week, David Duval a little earlier was talking about using some words like needing 'perfect' rounds, and 'mistake-free' golf and things like that at tournaments like this to beat Tiger. I'm just wondering if in your mind you go into a tournament thinking that you need to do extraordinary things to overcome him and the course and all the other elements?
DAVID DUVAL III: Well, I think to win any major, you have to do pretty much everything right. You're not going to win on playing average golf. And out here average golf means really good golf. So I think you have to play great, obviously, to win. And it doesn't matter if it's Tiger or David or Phil, somebody is going to play really, really good. Today it takes -- you can't play mistake-free golf. Nobody does that. But you have to play very, very well to win, no matter whether it's Memphis or U.S. Open. It's very tough to do. When the guy is making a lot of putts, it's very -- it makes it even harder. So now for us anybody in this field, you have to go out with the approach of: I've got to be extremely patient and play the best I can and see what happens. And it's even more important to not pay any attention to what everybody else is doing. If you go out and try to figure out what Phil Mickelson or David Duval are going to shoot and try to beat it, you'll never win. It's still the same old game. It's a mental battle. And the course is going to be tough, the wind is going to be tough and the competition is going to be tough. It's the guy who wins the mental battle that will do it. And that's what Tiger has been doing. He's been winning the mental battle and making more putts and he keeps coming out on top.
Q. Davis, there's been a lot of talk about the length of the par-4s here, and, of course, the big par-5 hole. The way you see it, does this course set up to a distinct advantage for long hitters or do you not see it that way?
DAVID DUVAL III: It's funny, we used to hear that they're Tiger-proofing or long-hitter-proofing these golf courses, and now they're starting to realize that the longer they make it is actually to our advantage. I hope every hole is a 500-yard par-4, because it shrinks the field down some. But in a U.S. Open, it's still -- long hitters have an advantage, no matter where. But in a U.S. Open, it comes down to short game. That's the awesome combination of any of these players, Phil Mickelson or David Duval or Tiger Woods or whoever; that they can hit it that far and still putt well. Obviously, we keep coming back to it, but there is an explanation for why Tiger Woods is the best player in the world and the best streak that anybody has been on in a long, long time. We haven't ever seen anybody putt like that; that can hit the ball over 250 yards. It's mind-boggling that you can go on that kind of a streak for that long. And the length is definitely always going to be a factor. But it's still going to come down to putting, I think, especially this week, because this is an interesting set of greens, just like a Winged Foot. You need to be under the hole, putting uphill, very patient with it. And you're going to have to make some putts, some tricky putts to win.
Q. Davis, in recent issue of the golf magazine, they talked about if you put a golf ball in a certain way, hit it in certain parts, the golf ball it goes far --?
DAVID DUVAL III: Who said that?
Q. In a recent golf magazine, something about the new Titleist ball.
DAVID DUVAL III: Who said that?
Q. It was Golf Magazine.
DAVID DUVAL III: If they did that, it wouldn't be on the USGA-approved list.
Molinari hopes to inspire others as Rocca inspired him
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Francesco Molinari was 12 years old when Costantino Rocca came within a playoff of becoming Italy’s first major champion at the 1995 Open at St. Andrews.
He remembers being inspired by Rocca’s play and motivated by the notion that he could one day be the player who would bring home his country’s first Grand Slam title. As he reflected on that moment late Sunday at Carnoustie it sunk in what his victory at The Open might mean.
“To achieve something like this is on another level,” said Molinari, who closed with a final-round 69 for a two-stroke victory. “Hopefully, there were a lot of young kids watching on TV today, like I was watching Constantino in '95 coming so close. Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the claret jug.”
Molinari had already made plenty of headlines this year back home in Italy with victories at the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and the Quicken Loans National earlier this month on the PGA Tour.
A major is sure to intensify that attention. How much attention, however, may be contingent on Sunday’s finish at the German Grand Prix.
“It depends on if Ferrari won today. If they won, they'll probably get the headlines,” Molinari laughed. “But, no, obviously, it would be massive news. It was big news. The last round already was big news in Italy.”
Molinari won’t have any competition for the front page on Monday; Ferrari didn’t win the German Grand Prix.
Schauffele on close call: Nothing but a positive
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Playing in a final group at a major for the first time, Xander Schauffele awkwardly splashed out of three pot bunkers, went out in 40 and still somehow had a chance to win at Carnoustie.
Playing the 17th hole, tied with Francesco Molinari, Schauffele flared his approach shot into the right rough and couldn’t get up and down for par. He dropped one shot behind Molinari, and then two, after the Italian birdied the final hole.
Just like that, Schauffele was doomed to a runner-up finish at The Open.
“A little bit of disappointment,” he said. “Obviously when you don’t win, you’re disappointed. Hats off to Francesco. I looked up on 17 and saw he got to 8 under, which is just incredible golf and an incredible finish.”
Schauffele did well to give himself a chance. The 24-year-old was in the final group with Spieth, but both youngsters fell off the pace after rocky starts. The Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year birdied the 14th but couldn’t convert a 15-footer on the treacherous 16th that would have given him a one-shot cushion.
“It’s going to go in the memory bank as a positive,” he said. “I had a chance to win a major championship. I was in the final group. I had to face a little bit of adversity early in the round, and I still gave myself a chance. Anyone can look at it however they want to, but I’m going to look at is as a positive moving forward and try to learn how to handle the situations a little better next time.”
They came, they saw and Molinari conquered The Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – From a perch above the 17th tee, next to a three-story grandstand that may well be the tallest structure on the Angus coast, the 147th Open Championship unfolded with more twists and turns than a Russian novel.
It was all there like a competitive kaleidoscope to behold. In quick order, Rory McIlroy’s title chances slipped away with a whimper, a par at the last some 100 yards to the left of the 17th tee. Tiger Woods, seemingly refreshed and reborn by the Scottish wind, missed his own birdie chance at the 16th hole, a half-court attempt near the buzzer for a player who is 0-for-the last decade in majors.
Moments later, Kevin Kisner scrambled for an all-world par of his own at No. 16 and gazed up at the iconic leaderboard as he walked to the 17th tee box, his title chances still hanging in the balance a shot off the lead.
Francesco Molinari was next, a textbook par save at No. 16 to go along with a collection of by-the-book holes that saw the Italian play his weekend rounds bogey-free. He also hit what may have been the most important drive of his life into what a Scot would call a proper wind at the 17th hole.
Xander Schauffele, who was tied with Molinari at the time at 7 under par, anchored the action, missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 16th hole. Moments later the Italian calmly rolled in a 5-footer for birdie at the last to finish his week at 8 under par.
All this unfolded over a frenzied final hour of play at Carnoustie, offering just a taste of what the other four-plus hours of play resembled.
“I couldn't watch Xander play the last two holes, to be honest,” said Molinari, who became the first Italian to win a major. “That's why I went to the putting green, because I probably would have felt sick watching on TV,”
Carnoustie may not be the fairest of the Open rotation courses, but it certainly delivers the dramatic goods regularly enough.
Woods’ prediction earlier in the week that this Open Championship would come down to no fewer than 10 would-be champions seemed hyperbolic. It turns out he was being conservative with his estimate.
All total, 11 players either held a share of the lead or moved to within a stroke of the top spot on a hectic Sunday. For three days Carnoustie gave, the old brute left exposed by little wind and even less rough. Earlier in the week, players talked of not being able to stop the ball on the dusty and dry links turf. But as the gusts built and the tension climbed on Sunday, stopping the bleeding became a bigger concern.
If most majors are defined by two-way traffic, a potpourri of competitive fortunes to supercharge the narrative, this Open was driven in one direction and a cast of would-be champions with a single goal: hang on.
A day that began with three players – including defending champion Jordan Spieth, Kisner and Schauffele – tied for the lead at 9 under, quickly devolved into a free-for-all.
Kisner blinked first, playing his first three holes in 3 over par; followed by Spieth whose poor 3-wood bounded into a gorse bush at the sixth hole and led to an unplayable lie. It was a familiar scene that reminded observers of his unlikely bogey at Royal Birkdale’s 13th hole last year. But this time there was no practice tee to find refuge and his double-bogey 7 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard.
“I was trying to take the burn out of the equation by hitting 3-wood to carry it. It was unlucky. It went into the only bush that's over on the right side. If it misses it, I hit the green and have a birdie putt,” Spieth said.
Schauffele’s struggles coincided with Spieth’s, with whom he played on Sunday, with a bogey at the sixth sandwiched between a bogey (No. 5) and a double bogey (No. 7).
This opened the door to what the entire golf world has awaited, with Woods vaulting into the lead at 7 under par, the first time since the ’11 Masters he’d led at a major, and sending a low rumble across the course.
Since Woods last won a major, that ’08 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on one leg, Spieth and Schauffele, who Tiger spotted four strokes on Sunday, graduated from high school; McIlroy went from phenom to four-time major winner and Donald Trump was transformed from being a TV celebrity to the President of the United States.
But the fairytale only lasted a few minutes with Woods playing Nos. 11 and 12 in 3 over par. They were the kind of mistakes the 14-time major champion didn’t make in his prime
“A little ticked off at myself, for sure. I had a chance starting that back nine to do something, and I didn't do it,” said Woods, who finished tied for sixth but will have the consolation prize of moving into the top 50 in the world ranking to qualify for the last WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in two weeks.
But as Woods faded, McIlroy made a familiar move, charging in an eagle putt at the par-5 14th hole to tie Molinari and Schauffele at 6 under par. The Northern Irishman would run out of holes, playing the final four in even par to finish tied for second, but the moment wasn’t lost on him.
“It was great, just to be a part of it and hear the roars. Tiger being back in the mix. You know, everything,” McIlroy said. “There's a lot of big names up there. It was nice to be a part of it. For a while, I thought Tiger was going to win. My mindset was go and spoil the party here.”
By the time the final groups reached Carnoustie’s finishing stretch it was a two-man party, with Molinari proving for the second time this month that boring golf can be effective.
Although he’d won the European Tour’s flagship event in May, Molinari decided to add the Quicken Loans National to his schedule because of his precarious position on the FedExCup points list (122nd) – he won that, too. The week before the Open, he fulfilled his commitment to play the John Deere Classic, a requirement under the PGA Tour’s new strength of field rule, and finished second.
Although his track record at The Open was nothing special – he’d posted just a single top-10 finish in his first 10 starts at the game’s oldest championship – his machine-like game was always going to be a perfect fit for a brown and bouncy links like Carnoustie and a topsy-turvy final round.
“I told his caddie earlier this week, because I didn’t want to say it to [Molinari], I have a good feeling this week,” said Molinari’s swing coach Denis Pugh. “It was the perfect combination of clarity and confidence.”
With the sun splashing against the baked-out fairways, Molinari emerged from the clubhouse, wide-eyed and a little dazed after what could only be described as a major melee, his no-nonsense, fairways-and-greens game the perfect tonic for an Open that defied clarity until the very end.
Spieth and Schauffele were put on the clock Sunday
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Contending in a major championship on what is largely considered the toughest major championship course can be hard enough, but as Jordan Spieth reached the 10th tee box, he was given another layer of anxiety.
Spieth, who was playing with Xander Schauffele on Sunday at Carnoustie, was informed that his group had fallen behind and been put on the clock. On the next tee, he was given a “bad time” for taking too long to hit his drive.
“I handled it OK, but looking back, you know, that was a turning point in the round,” said Spieth, who played Nos. 10 and 11 in even par and finished tied for ninth after a closing 76. “If you get 1 under on those two holes with a downwind par 5 left [No. 14], it's a different story.”
Spieth, who began the day tied for the lead with Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under, had dropped out the top spot with a double bogey-7 at the sixth hole. He was tied for the lead when officials put his group on the clock.
“I took over the allotted time on the tee on 11 to decide on 3-iron or 3-wood, but throughout the day, I think I played the fastest golf I've probably ever played while contending in a tournament,” he said.