With a year to go until The 2016 Ryder Cup begins at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, Captains Darren Clarke and Davis Love III gave some intriguing insights into golf’s great team event.
Speaking at a conference at the end of two days of Year to Go celebrations, which included a welcome to Minnesota breakfast and an evening with David Feherty Live yesterday before appearances on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive earlier today, both Clarke and Love III explored various topics from momentum to milestones, state of the game to spirit of the matches.
The two captains will lead their 12 man teams into action the game’s most compelling contest at Hazeltine from September 30 – October 2 next year, and here are their views…
On the course set up:
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't like rough. I hit it in it a lot. I do not like the rough to be so deep that the fans are going to see a lot of chipping out. I like more opportunities for birdies. I think it's more exciting. This is a match-play event. We want to see holes winning birdies, not putting 10-footers for par all day.
DARREN CLARKE: I think if you take a look at recent Ryder Cup, you'll see that the Europeans have a little bit the edge on the greens, knocking in a few extra putts.
The difference between a putt lipping in and lipping out doesn't seem an awful lot, but it's a huge amount of momentum to the team. And the team that gets that, they get a bit of a buzz off it. Should you be the home team or the away team, you can recognize the roars very easily whether it's a home-holed putt or an away-holed putt.
DAVIS LOVE III: The matches are always close. It seems like once you grab the momentum, it's easier to keep it for a while but it's hard to keep it for three days. I think if you look back over maybe the last six or eight Ryder Cups, it's just been whoever got that momentum right at the last minute.
Unfortunately for the last few years, Europe's gotten it on Sunday right when they needed it. We go back to '99 with Ben Crenshaw, somehow we got it that Sunday morning and rode it all day. And we just had to figure out how to make that crucial putt; one more chip-in, one more putt, one more little bit of believing in yourself, believing in your teammates, can make the difference.
Most Memorable Shot:
Darren Clarke: My one was the first tee at The K Club in 2006. I didn't know if it was going to miss it, up it, duff it, whiff it, hook it, block it, do whatever, I had no idea, genuinely no idea where the ball was going to go. I got lucky and made contact and went straight down the middle. That's probably the most nervous I've ever been on a golf course.
DAVIS LOVE III: My first Ryder Cup, I was partnered with my mentor, Tom Kite, and we had decided that alternate-shot, I would hit off the odd holes and he would hit off the even holes. Then we had a fog delay Friday morning, so I got to sit around and think about it for about an hour and a half.
Then walking up to the first tee, I tried to convince him to hit off the first tee, because I figured out 1 was odd and I had to hit first and I wasn't ready for it. And he had to calm me down and give me a 3-iron and said, "Just get me in the fairway and get going."
But when you walk up to that first tee, even if you played six of them or it's your first one, it's a nerve-wracking experience. But I'll never forget that, playing Seve and Jose, and Tom Kite; it was an unbelievable moment in my career.
Suport from the home Minnesota Sports Fans:
DAVIS LOVE III: Be enthusiastic but be fair to both sides. I think you want to cheer for good shots. Obviously there will be louder cheers here than will were at Gleneagles for the US shots; but respect for our competitors.
We want a lot of noise. That's what we're here for is to putt on a good show, enjoy The Ryder Cup. But I think if the fans cheer for their side in a fair way that's what makes it fun for the players.
DARREN CLARKE: Agreed. Home support we have whenever we play in Europe, and obviously Davis will have it when we are here the next time; and the home support and the roars and the shouts, that's all part and parcel of The Ryder Cup. That's makes it what it is.
It's always tough for the away team to go into the other one's territory to try and perform. But as long as the crowd are within the etiquette of the game, give our guys what we do, quietness to hit their shots, you can't expect anything more.
But I would be disappointed if the home support wasn't as loud and vocal as it should be.
State of the game with young players coming through:
DARREN CLARKE: With the performance of Jordan Spieth, what a phenomenal year he's had with his five wins and capped off a win again last week. Jason Day and Rickie and obviously Rory, as well, they are wonderful young men that I think are fantastic role models, aren't they.
I think as younger kids that have the opportunity to draw more people to our sport; that they can perform the way that we would all like to, I think they are wonderful ambassadors for our game.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think "ambassadors" is the correct term. We are the elder statesmen a little bit of the game now.
And there's been three guys that have come out that have impressed me with their maturity, with the way they carry themselves around the golf course, the way they carry themselves around the sponsors and around the media, and they have all turned out to be three of the top players in the world: Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Isn't it amazing that three of our best players are also three of our best citizens out on Tour and best representatives of the game. So I'm really proud of now only the way they are playing; and goes right on down the list. On our tour, we have so many great young players that are not only great players, but they understand; they get it, as we say. They understand what golf's all about.
I think that we can thank the players that came before us for passing that down to them. They understand what golf's all about and they are going to make great champions and great leaders for our tour for the future. It's in good hands I think.