Davis Love III can’t wait for the Ryder Cup to get here.
The 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain knows now that the calendar has flipped, these next several months are going to zoom by and, before you know it, 12 of the best players from the U.S. and 12 of the best from Europe will be on the first tee at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn.
Love, U.S. Captain for the second time in three Ryder Cups, feels more prepared than the first time around – like a president serving a second term, he said. He’s aware of the details that need to be addressed outside the ropes, knows who will be handling those details and now he’s able to focus on golf – both his own and that of his potential team members.
Just before the start of this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, we caught up with Love for a Q&A to catch up on his game, the state of various players and more.
PGA.com: For the first time since 2009, you spent last week at Kapalua playing in the Tournament of Champions. How was the experience?
Love: It's always nice to be back in Maui and in that tournament where I have so many good memories. Mark Rolfing is a great friend of mine, so he's been inviting my family to visit there since 1986. As for last week, it was awesome for me and the whole family to get back. And, for me, it's always nice to play with the top players in the world. Doing it at Kapalua was a bonus and just a great way to start the year.
PGA.com: Justin Thomas made some noise last week when he told Golf Channel he'd rather be on a winning U.S. Ryder Cup team than win a major. What did you think of that statement?
Love: As the captain of the team Justin's trying to make, I loved it. But, I'd bet you with nine holes to go and a two-shot lead in the PGA Championship he might change his mind.
What I like from guys like Justin, Dufner and other guys though, is that they want to be on a winning Ryder Cup team and they're saying it. It's a big goal for them. Phil [Mickelson] pulled me aside after winning the Presidents Cup in the fall and said, "I'm ready for the Ryder Cup." It was great. Guys -- even veteran guys -- are making it a big goal of theirs. It's a big goal for the entire year, starting in January, not just September.
PGA.com: With dual membership on the PGA and European Tours this year, Patrick Reed has been and will be playing a lot of golf around the world. So far, he's playing great too.
Love: Patrick is a high-energy guy that likes to play and likes to compete. While he's young, he's taking his shot at seeing the world. I enjoyed my time with him and his wife over in Korea at the Presidents Cup. I spent a lot of time with them and got to know them a lot better. His intensity and passion for playing is great. Hopefully he makes enough points -- I'm sure he will -- playting both tours to keep his top-8 ranking.
PGA.com: There was a time where a player couldn't get through an interview without being asked about Tiger Woods. Now, it seems, you can't get through an interview without being asked about Jordan Spieth. With that, how about him? An eight-shot win at 30 under last week.
Love: Let me say this -- I played a lot hillier, much longer course than Jordan last week. When guys like him, Tiger, or Greg Norman are in the zone it's amazing how they can separate themselves from the field.
Last Wednesday, my son Dru was watching Jordan practice. Later that day, Dru said to me, "Jordan is going to win this tournament." He was right, obviously. Coming off of last year, Jordan is just so confident and there's nothing slowing him down right now. Put it this way, I figured if I shot 20 under last week, I'd be right in the mix. Turns out that wouldn't have come even close.
PGA.com: I know you're a big Rickie Fowler fan. What did you think of last week's fashion statement with the high-tops and joggers?
Love: Rickie is just so cool. He can pull off about anything. I'm not sure we'll make adjustments to Ryder Cup uniforms based on that look, but we have the flat-bill hats Rickie and Dustin like, so we're making some concessions. You know, Rickie has an incredible following because he wants to be a leader and do his own thing. If you know him, you know it's all out of fun. He's not doing it out of cockiness, it's because it's fun.
PGA.com: We're expecting to see a lot of you on the PGA Tour this year after having won the 2015 Wyndham Championship. How helpful is that to you -- as a captain -- to be playing the regular Tour?
Love: It's huge. Not only to play out there regularly, but in the winners' category. For instance, this week I'm playing the first two rounds with Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Kisner -- two guys who have a good chance of being on the team.
We've talked about the European Tour arranging pairings for Darren Clarke. Well, it's like I'm getting that benefit too. The big thing is, I don't have to make a special trip to places like Augusta National to watch them play. I get to play wth them. In Akron, I'll be there playing with them. I can have meetings there with a lot of guys who will be on the team just before the Ryder Cup. Rickie has said it's cool having me out here playing. I'm not popping in Monday of Ryder Cup week saying, "what's going on?" We'll be dialed in. And, hopefully I'll be able to play with them in the playoffs this year like last year too.
PGA.com: In Ryder Cup business, what's going on behind the scenes right now?
Love: Nothing notable. Kerry Haigh (the PGA of America's Chief Championships Officer) has kept me up to date on what's going on. They had been changing out the sand at Hazeltine until the snow came. I'm keeping up on the details. Stuff like the golf bags, the clothes -- that's all close to being finalized. Robin (Love's wife) will go to New York in February to work out the final details on uniforms for the ladies. It's going smoothly. It's like the second term as president -- much easier. You know the drill and the people involved. It's been very smooth so far. Now that we're in the 2016 year, we can focus on what really matters -- the points list. It's nice to feel like we're ahead of the game this time around in the planning and can really just focus on the golf.
PGA.com: I just wanted to go back a few months and ask, what was it like to have your son playing with you in a PGA Tour event at the RSM Classic?
Love: It was the best. Dru's making progress with his game and played well in a qualifier to get in the tournament. That was a big step for him. To watch every hole of it was pretty incredible for me as a dad. That never happens on tour and may never happen again. It's fun to watch him progress and play and spend time with him. There's nothing like playing with your son in big events like that.
PGA.com: Lastly, you must be pretty excited that Dru's school -- Alabama -- won another national championship on Monday night.
Love: It was exciting to watch. I'm a fan of both coaches and with a game like that, it's a lot of fun to watch the momentum shifts. I'm not watching big events in various sports as a fan now, though. I'm trying to learn something that will help come Ryder Cup week.
But for Dru and his buddies, I know it was a lot of fun to watch at the golf house. It's an exciting time to be at Bama.