Captain's Blog: Forced time off
Leading up to the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III will periodically check in with PGA.com to talk about the various things going on in his life on the course, off the course and in his Ryder Cup preparations. This is the seventh installment of Love's, 'Captain's Blog,' as told to PGA.com's T.J. Auclair.
By Davis Love III
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain
I've been keeping very busy lately, but not much of that has been with my golf game aside from some short game practice.
During the week of the Transitions Championship, I was out snowboarding in Sun Valley, Idaho. Believe it or not, I had a nasty fall going down one of the bunny slopes with my niece. It's crazy. I don't fall down while I'm heli-boarding, but I fall down on the bunny slope! Anyway, I fell on my side and I thought I might have hurt something, but I wasn't sure.
Fast forward a week later to Bay Hill. There was some discomfort in my side, but I tried to play through it. Then, in the third round, I really dug one out from a fairway bunker and that finished it off. The doctors thought I had torn or broken something, and told me I needed to withdraw. That's what I did.
Now they're saying it's a cracked rib and really all I can do is rest it. I tried to play a little bit with my son, Dru, this past Sunday, but I'm not ready yet. All I can do is work on putting. I'll definitely be ready to go for the Players Championship in a month, but I'm actually shooting for the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte the week before that.
I wanted to try to give it a shot in Hilton Head this week since that tournament has been so good to me through the years, but I just can't.
All I can do is rest. I can't tape it or do much for it, just rest. It's not a bad thing for me to not be hitting balls or doing anything else to wear myself down. I'll be well rested for the summer. I'm catching up on Ryder Cup stuff, business stuff and kids stuff. One of the first things I did when I was out, was go to a meeting in Brunswick for a First Tee project with McGladrey. They put me right to work for stuff around the tournament.
Everything happens for a reason. This has allowed me to watch Dru play, work on the bags for the Ryder Cup, gifts for the Ryder Cup with my wife, Robin; I've talked a little bit to Kerry Haigh at the PGA of America about which format I'd like to play first on Friday and Saturday; I've caught up on details and emails. Shoot, right now I'm working in the paddle board shop!
Like I said, this break -- though forced due to injury -- has actually been a good thing for me. I've been able to catch up with a lot of things.
The toughest part has been the rest from physical activity. I had a friend call me when he found out I'd be missing some tournaments. He said, "So, do you want to go on a surfing trip?"
I told him, "Umm... no. I can't. I'm hurt."
I can't play golf, I can't surf and I can't snowboard or paddle board right now. I can go turkey hunting, so I've had some friends down here to go do that and it's been fun. The more I think about it, this injury is a little bit like my ankle injury a few years ago. I can focus on getting stuff done instead of trying to find another crazy hobby.
Back to golf. For Tiger, it was good to win at Bay Hill. He's not driving it his best, but he proved to himself that he can still close it out and make the putts he needs to on a Sunday. I think that was important for his head. It was also important so people would quit asking him when he'd finally win again. Now if he starts winning every other week, people can get back to asking: "Why don't you win every week?!"
That's just how it goes for Tiger, but it was good to see him win. It's good for the fans, it's good for the game and it's great in a Ryder Cup year. People ask me, will he make the team? Come on. It's obvious he's going to play his way on the team. I'm not worried about that. He's not all the way there yet -- we saw that at the Masters -- but he's close.
Speaking of the Masters, I was pretty excited to see Fred Couples with a share of the lead after two rounds. We talked before the week started and I told him to make sure he saved his energy for the weekend, because it always seems like he's right there on the weekend. He got off to that great start and then, just like Phil Mickelson, he caught a couple of bad breaks. I think when Fred shows up at Augusta National, he just gets pumped up. That's one of his favorite places and you can always bet on him to be on that leaderboard at some point.
Congratulations to Bubba Watson. That was just awesome. A couple of my friends have won majors and I've texted or called afterward to tell them the same thing I texted Bubba after he won Sunday: just keep being yourself. I encourage him -- just as I've encouraged Lucas Glover -- just keep doing what you're doing. Do what got you there. You don't need to try and be Tiger Woods now that you've won a major. Your game was good enough to win the Masters. I think Bubba gets that as much as anyone. He can do his own thing and he doesn't have to try and be superhuman now.
It's funny, I heard Bubba in an interview on Golf Channel this morning. He said something like, "Even if I don't make the Ryder Cup team on points, I think my Masters win should be enough to get a pick."
I laughed. Well yeah, Bubba! If he doesn't make it on the team with points, we'll certainly remember the great shots he played down the stretch at Augusta National.
I really view this stuff differently now. I'm watching players more than I'm watching the standings. Even with Tiger. I know he didn't play as well as he wanted to, but because they showed him so much on TV, I was interested in seeing him and other players. What do they do when they're playing well? What do they do when they're not playing well? I saw a lot of passion and excitement in Bubba down the stretch. I was intrigued. In a match, I want to know their quirks and personalities. I want to see how they react when things aren't going their way. I've always been the competitor watching a guy play. But now I want to read them better. When Tiger's not playing well, I'm not going to stress if he drops or kicks a club -- that's him letting it out and moving on.
I need to get to know Bubba's game better. Same goes for Keegan Bradley. I loved watching Keegan down the stretch at Riviera even though he didn't win. That's when I run to my TV. My son and I ran home from the course Sunday to get in front of the TV to watch Bubba. If there wasn't a U.S. player involved at the end of the Masters -- and I wasn't the Ryder Cup captain -- Dru and I probably would have stayed on the course. But this time, I wanted to watch Bubba finish. What I saw was not just that he won, but it was also a wealth of information about how he handled himself in a tense situation.
You know, I mentioned Phil earlier too. That flop-shot he hit in the third round behind the green on No. 15 with that 64-degree wedge was unbelievable. My son and I ran right out to the practice green after he hit that shot to try it out. I told Phil one time that I used to agree with about 50 percent of his theories. Now it's about 75 percent. He's an interesting thinker, but a lot of what he says works. You can second-guess Phil all you want, but when you think about it, if it weren't for Tiger, Phil would be the guy with all those majors.
And as far as his influence on the younger players? Phil's outstanding. I know he's had a lot of input with Fred these last two Presidents Cups. He's turned into a great team leader before and during the Ryder Cup as well. Phil is a great ambassador on Tour for the young guys. He's willing to coach or mentor. He loves talking about golf and he doesn't keep secrets. I know the young guys appreciate it and -- for that matter -- so do the old guys.
Finally, I'm going to have four assistant captains on the Ryder Cup team. I think I'm going to have to announce two of them pretty soon -- probably in May. There are a couple of guys who know already that they are going to be assistants and then there are a couple of guys that are on notice. I'm hoping that a couple of them play well enough to be on the team. Then, of course, there's a bunch of guys that will be on the team that will help me out. I'm getting opinions from guys on things little and big regarding decisions I'm trying to make -- everything from which way we'd go with potential pairings to which color their pants will be.
All of it is a lot of fun.