Captain's Blog: Ready 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 fifth 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
Happy New Year, everyone! It's been a while.
Right now I'm taking a break from chipping and putting as I prepare for the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club. It's my first tournament in two months after a real nice offseason. We spent Thanksgiving at the farm in Georgia then we all went out to Sun Valley, Idaho for Christmas and some snowboarding.
Since my last blog at the 2012 Ryder Cup Year-Out Celebration in Chicago, a lot has happened. My friend, Fred Couples, did another outstanding job as the captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team in Australia. Obviously, I was ecstatic to see everyone play so well, especially since a lot of those guys will probably be on the Ryder Cup team. I loved seeing the U.S. roll in an international competition. When our guys are making putts and playing with confidence, we're OK.
I've talked to Freddie a number of times since then. I've gone to him for a lot of ideas, because what he does seems to work. I also spoke with Corey Pavin this week already. I thought his preparation in Wales was terrific. As everyone knows, we came up a little short there, but I think you can chalk that up to Europe's home-field advantage.
I'm also trying to reach out to some of the younger players. I think that's very important. With the way the younger guys have been playing the last couple of years - guys like Rickie Fowler, Chris Kirk, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, etc. - there's a good chance they'll be making a run at the team. First and foremost, I want them to feel comfortable. I want all of them to know that I'm here to help them, not to put pressure on them. I know in my first few Ryder Cups I always felt a lot of pressure. I'd like to change that for the new generation of guys. Of course there are going to be nerves. It's a great honor to represent your country. I just want to get to know these guys better - the golf will take care of itself. Everything will be talked out and ready to go before we get to Medinah.
It's like Alabama in the BCS Championship against LSU on Monday night - they had something like 44 days to prepare for that game and when kickoff came, they were ready. If our guys can prepare well and not feel all that pressure, they'll be ready for tee off in September.
One of those young guys in particular, who I mentioned earlier, is Bill Haas. To see what he did at the Tour Championship was just awesome to me. I've always had so much respect for the Haas family. Jay and his wife, Jan, have done a tremendous job raising their family.
It's so cool to see the son of a very successful Tour pro making his way on his own. I've known Bill since he was a little kid. He has worked so hard. People don't see the behind the scenes stuff. Last year he worked on his attitude, his game and his body and all of that paid off. I hope I can inspire my son, Dru, the way Jay has inspired Bill, or even closer to home, the way my father inspired me.
Bill's parents are so proud of him and they should be. He's a great young man. I actually played with him at Quail Hollow last year. Jan was following our group and you could just see the excitement on her face.
So here we are in 2012. The past year has been a blur and I'm sure it's only going to move faster now. I gave my wife, Robin, a little Ryder Cup gift for her birthday on New Year's Eve. We're both focused on doing our part to make the event special and memorable. It's been a fun journey so far, but September will be here before we know it. There are still a lot of details that need to get done.
We've been taking care of things like yardage book covers, bags, hotels, etc. The PGA of America is certainly helping us in a big way, but we're trying to be as involved in the process as we can be.
My year - playing-wise - starts this week in Hawaii. I'm actually paired with Sean O'Hair and last week's winner Steve Stricker in the first two rounds, so talk about hitting the ground running. I think that's a great way to start the year. Steve's going to be one of the leaders on our team, so I'll be looking to him for some ideas.
I was sorry to see my good buddy Lucas Glover get hurt last week in Maui while he was out paddle boarding. He said he'll be fine, but he needs some rest. I haven't given him a hard time about it. In fact, I know my mom thinks it's my fault that Lucas got hurt because I got him started on the paddle boarding back home in Sea Island, Ga. Like I said, he'll be OK. I've texted with him a few times and he just needs some rest. I've gotten close to Lucas over the years and I'm just happy to see him happy and enjoying life. He's at his best when he's comfortable and happy.
Injuries aside, paddle boarding is something he enjoys. I've heard that some people think we should just stick to golf. I mean, Paul Casey got hurt snowboarding recently too. I hope he'll get better quickly. I understand why our fans think we should just stick to golf. They pull for us and don't want to see us get hurt. For most of them, golf is a great hobby.
As much as Tour pros love golf - and there's no denying that - it's not a hobby for us. It's our job. We need hobbies outside of our job, just like anyone else. For me, nothing compares to being inside the ropes and competing for 4 hours. But, we all need something fun and exciting to do outside of golf too. If Lucas, Paul, or any of us played golf 365 days a year, we'd get tired of it. You have to enjoy all aspects of life. For me, that includes riding a Harley, snowboarding, paddle boarding, surfing, hunting and other stuff. It's hard to give up that competitive spirit. Zach Johnson is as competitive and intense as they come when he's playing basketball.
We all need that balance. We need to be careful, but not live in fear. My worst injuries - and I've been lucky throughout my career for the most part - have come while playing golf. I look at Jack and Barbara Nicklaus as the ultimate when it comes to creating a balance. They raised a great family and did everything. It can be fun. I've lived a fun, blessed life on and off the course. I hope Lucas finds that too. We all need something.
Lucas is one of the Sea Island guys. So is Zach Johnson, Jonathan Byrd and a bunch of others who could make that Ryder Cup team. Man, I would love to have half the team be guys from home! It would be great to take one big plane from Sea Island straight to Chicago!
It's early, I know, but I've looked at the Ryder Cup points list. Just to see how friends are making out. I probably won't pay real close attention until we get to the U.S. Open. That's when you really start paying attention. It's just too volatile right now. Once there are 2-3 locks, you keep a close eye on it. I'll get handed eight players on points and then I'll have to make those four picks. Come the British Open, I'll start watching players closely and also play practice rounds with them.
Again, I admit it. I like looking at the points list. I looked at it this morning. But, it really starts to get important after the U.S. Open.
All I know is that it's going to be a great year and, already, I can't wait for September.