The Ryder Cup build-up stepped up a gear with Captains Darren Clarke and Davis Love III coming together to pay tribute to Arnold Palmer on arrival at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Clarke, the seven players who were on the flight from London, and the four vice captains, arrived on schedule at Minneapolis, and while the players headed off to their official hotel to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and the all-important team room, it was straight to the course for Clarke, where the Northern Irishman and official party were greeted by his US counterpart and the PGA of America.
As the pair faced the media for the first time this week, they began by paying tribute to the late Arnold Palmer, who sadly passed away on Sunday night.
What they said…
On Arnold Palmer’s passing….
“It sort of puts into perspective a lot of things, but our sport wouldn't be where it is without Mr. Palmer. He was obviously a very proud American and very patriotic towards The Ryder Cup, but more than that, he was a global superstar, and he inspired people all over the world to take up our great sport.
“He was one of the first guys to come over and start playing in The Open Championship, and he persuaded all the other top guys in the world to come over and play it. Mr. Palmer did an awful lot for the golf, our golf as we know it these days.”
Davis Love III:
“I was the little kid at one time that Arnold would rub my head and say hello and ask, How are you doing, son? I've seen him do that a million times with kids since then. He just meant an awful lot to our family.
“He was my inspiration as a golfer, a role model as how to act as a professional. I tried to sign autographs as well as him, as patiently as him, but I never lived up to that for sure. He was always more to me than just a golfer; he was a great friend and a great captain. A great leader.”
On the teams arriving in Minnesota…
“There were 209 people on our plane over here. There were room for a few more, but we got 209 on there. It was a good trip. I managed to get six hours sleep, which is probably the most I've had in two months, so from that point of view it was good.
“We are obviously all here now. The team will get together. The guys that reside over here in the States are all flying in probably as we speak. It will be nice to get everybody together back in the hotel this evening.”
Davis Love III:
“I'm glad to finally have the team all here. Everybody's excited. We had a few guys arrive in the afternoon yesterday, a few guys late last night. Guys have been arriving while I've been out here at the golf course today.
“You can hear the roof of the tent blowing. We didn't have a whole lot of guys get out on the golf course, but we had quite a few guys come out and get organized and get some practice in. We’re excited and we're ready to go.”
On Europe winning the last three Ryder Cups & honouring Palmer…..
“I think it’s irrelevant going into this week. Each Ryder Cup is individual in its own rights. We have had different scenarios going on in past Ryder Cups and this is a totally different one where we're currently under the shadow of Mr. Palmer's passing away. We will pay our respects, but come Friday we will be out there battling like the two great teams that we are.
“It's something that whatever happens this week, it will be another great chapter in the history of The Ryder Cup, and certainly one that goes along with honouring Mr. Palmer, as well.”
On Love picking Ryan Moore as the final US wildcard pick….
Davis Love III:
“It was a very exciting last few days, obviously with the end of THE TOUR Championship, and naming Ryan Moore. Unfortunately for Ryan last night, obviously the news of The Ryder Cup took a back seat with Arnold (Palmer) passing. But it was exciting moments for us to watch Ryan finish and to play so well. He was hopping on a plane to go to Las Vegas with his family last night when I told him and he was obviously very excited.
“He’s a great addition to our team and he’s playing great. We also had some other exciting news with Bubba (Watson) being appointed as one of our Assistant Captains. Bubba was obviously disappointed not to be on the team, but offered a couple times to come and be one of our assistant captains. So he's back at the hotel trying to get his clothes sized up and getting ready for assistant captain duties, much like Jim Furyk.”
On Rory McIlroy winning the FedEx Cup…..
“Obviously Rory is a very, very talented young man. He has played very well all year. Obviously he wasn't knocking the putts in, but he has done a little bit these past few weeks.
“To have him go out and do that, and to shoot what he did on the back nine yesterday with trying to finish the FedEx Cup, I think that was very, very impressive. You know, Ryan Moore was very strong yesterday. Rory hung in there, gave himself some opportunities, didn't quite make it, and then made birdie on the last playoff hole.
“Rory is a wonderful young man and an unbelievable golfer, so he's a hugely inspirational figure for our team, and I feel very lucky that he's on our European side.”