Captain's Blog: One year to go
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 fourth 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
CHICAGO -- It's been a busy, but amazing day. I've been here in Chicago for the Ryder Cup Year-Out celebration. We've had a lot of stuff going on, but what a great day.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of the course at Medinah because there was some weather this morning, but the fun got started for me and Jose Maria Olazabal (European Team Captain) with the press conference this afternoon. All day, I think the realization has hit both of us that the 2012 Ryder Cup is only one year away. It's hard to believe.
After the press conference, we had a police-escort to downtown Chicago and the Trump Tower. You want to talk about nerves? Once we arrived at Trump Tower, Jose Maria and I went up to the 16th floor. Just outside on the patio, they had a makeshift tee box set up with a floating green in the river below for us to hit some shots for charity. That was something else. What a rush.
It was pretty scary: 1. because it was on the 16th floor and off the ledge, but then 2. because we were asked if we could guarantee that we wouldn't hit it in the street! That was one of the hardest shots I've ever had to hit knowing that we weren't supposed to miss.
All day I was a little nervous about what was going on after that shot - heading over to U.S. Cellular Field to throw out the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox/Toronto Blue Jays game in front of all those fans. It turns out the first pitch was a piece of cake after facing that shot at Trump Tower!
Speaking of the first pitch, Jose Maria told us this morning that he had never played or thrown a baseball in his life. Obviously, baseball isn't a big sport back in Spain. It was hard for some of us to believe that he'd never played, but then one of his guys asked us, "How many times in your life have you played cricket?"
It was funny and a very good point. So, before we left Medinah this afternoon, the PGA of America gave us each a glove and we went out and played catch on the practice green. I know Jose Maria was extremely nervous about throwing the first pitch, but he did pretty darn good. We both reached the plate on the fly, which was the goal. He did great. The first ball he ever threw, I was in the catcher position on the putting green and it was a perfect strike.
I told him, "You probably shouldn't throw anymore after that one." He was having fun. He enjoyed throwing it.
To be honest, I can't remember the last time I had thrown. I would really only throw with my son and now he's a golfer, so it's been a few years since I've thrown as well. That was fun. That's a part of being the Ryder Cup captain. You get to do a lot of special things you don't normally get to do. It was great to meet Ozzie Guillen and see some guys on the team that I knew. I just wish that we could have stayed for a few innings, but now we're on our way to wrap up the night with a show at the Chicago Theater, which I'm sure will be great too.
The best part of this year-out celebration day for me, has been spending the day with Jose Maria. We're usually either playing golf, or in and out of a locker room, or something quick. In a way, it's kind of nice that we got rained out this morning at the course, because we were able to sit around together all day and talk about a lot of things. It was a great way for us to kick off the Ryder Cup. I know it's great for the fans and the media, but it really has been a great day for us to be together.
One of the neat things about being a Ryder Cup captain is that I get to decide how I want the course set up. Briefly today, we went out to the par-4 15th hole at Medinah, which they've converted to a reachable par-4. I think it's like No. 10 at the Belfry. It adds some excitement, especially because it could be the last hole, or at least a pivotal hole, in a match. We're going to have to use some strategy with how we set it up and how we play it.
I was reminded listening to Jose Maria describe the hole today, that he and Seve Ballesteros would always lay up at No. 10 at the Belfry and they'd always win the hole. Maybe we'll set it up so that everyone will want to go for it and then we'll tell our guys not to. We'll see what happens. But, it is fun to have a hole like that, especially with Nos. 16 and 18 coming up, which are really, really hard holes. It'll be nice to have a birdie hole in there.
I've found it interesting talking to some of the former captains about their strategies. I don't have a strategy yet. I've talked a lot with the PGA of America staff, the greens supervisor and say, "It's your golf course. How would you set it up?"
But, really, I'm going to talk to our top players and to our players who have played some Ryder Cups. I'm also going to be reliant on my assistant captains. There will obviously be some guys who have played in this before, so we'll come up with what we think is best for our team. Ultimately it comes down to making putts. So, we've got to give ourselves the best opportunity to get some birdie putts and then we've got to make them. My secret is going to be finding a way to get the guys to putt well. The course set up is one factor, but having those guys comfortable and feeling like they had some input is important.
Again, the highlight of this whole day for me, honestly, has been the hour here or the hour there that I got to just sit and talk with Jose Maria. We've competed against each other for a long time and this is going to be great.