Thanks to the 21st victory of his PGA Tour career last August at the Wyndham Championship, 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III will be making a trip to the Masters next week for the first time since 2011.
Born one day after his dad competed in the final round of the 1964 Masters, the season's first major has always been coveted by Love, twice a runner-up at Augusta National.
In this latest Q&A, Love talks about the Masters, how things panned out for U.S. players at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship and more.
PGA.com: It wasn't a great week for U.S. players at the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship. None of them made it further than the quarterfinals. Was that disappointing to you?
Love: I wasn't paying too close attention to what was going on. I was only paying attention to points after the fact and there was nothing drastic there. I think it was good to get experience just playing match play. There aren't many of those tournaments in the world at this level. The Ryder Cup is a long way off, but they at least got a little taste of match play. I'm not too hung up on results at the Match Play. I think the U.S. players are looking good going into the majors.
PGA.com: Patrick Reed was knocked out early as well, but not before an impressive 5 and 4 win over Phil Mickelson. You've had a chance to get to know Reed since the Presidents Cup. What is it about his demeanor that's so well suited for match play?
Love: I think Patrick is just so passionate and so determined, he's a lot like our Ian Poulter -- get him in a 1-on-1 battle, or 2-on-2, and he seems to relish it and get fired up. That's what we've seen in the matches he's played. He likes match play and the heat of the battle. You can see it when he's in the hunt in a regular tournament too, that fire. We need a lot of that.
Patrick also reminds me of Jordan Spieth in the sense that he's built a team around him. He has a game plan with a team of people there to help him execute. I think because of that he's a perfect "team" guy.
PGA.com: Tony Finau didn't get any Ryder Cup points for his win in Puerto Rico on Sunday (points are not available for opposite field events), but he's been impressive the last 12 months. Along with his first win, he also has two top-15 finishes in the only two majors he's played. Does he have your attention?
Love: He's playing great. I played with him at Bay Hill and I was really impressed with his game, attitude and personality. He'd be a great team guy. There will be some guys from the fall events that didn't count (for points) and opposite events that get credit with the captain, but not the points. Tony is definitely on our watch list. I'd love to have him as a partner in a match and who wouldn't? He can make you a lot of birdies.
PGA.com: Next week marks your first Masters start since 2011, thanks to your win last year at Greensboro. What's it like to get back? Did you ever think that 2011 might be your final Masters start?
Love: The last time I played there I didn't consider even for a second that it would be my last. Then, as time passes, you start thinking, "maybe it was." But after a couple of surgeries and winning again, it's gratifying to be back. I'm working on my game to get ready for it. It'll be a fun week. There's so many things that make the Masters special and I plan on enjoying all of them this time around.
PGA.com: You were born a day after your dad competed in the final round of the 1964 Masters. Does that give the Masters even more special meaning to you?
Love: It's always around my birthday, so it brings back great memories of my dad. Unfortunately, he only got to see me play there once -- my first one in 1988. It was such a great week though because my dad was able to share his experiences there all over again and I had my brother, Mark, on the bag. My dad took me there as a kid and we were there when Jack Nicklaus won in 1986. I hadn't qualified in 1986, but it was a lot of fun to be there and see history made. It was always a big goal of ours for me to play there. It was always a topic of conversation for my dad and me.
PGA.com: What's your favorite Masters memory to date?
Love: I would say just being a part of the story when Ben Crenshaw won in 1995, the week after his longtime mentor Harvey Penick passed away. I played with Ben the week before and it was weighing on him about Harvey and how sick he had been. Then to come back the day before the start of the Masters after the funeral and win -- that was incredible.
I was right there in the hunt (Love was runner up, one stroke behind Crenshaw). I don't like how Ben finished with those birdies on 16 and 17, but I loved being a part of it. I enjoyed sharing that with Ben. That's my favorite Masters memory other than being there and watching when Jack won in 1986.
PGA.com: Is there anything new going on on the Ryder Cup front right now?
Love: Not a ton. We're waiting for the snow to melt at Hazeltine and I've been working on projects with my assistant captains to schedule some visits there. That's about it.
PGA.com: Lastly, you must be excited about your UNC Tar Heels reaching the Final Four once again.
Love: I'm very excited. I'm playing in Houston this week and that's where the Final Four is. You can bet that I'm going to buddy up with Jim Nantz over the next few days to see if I can tag along and maybe sit behind him at the game on Saturday night.