The excitement and anticipation of golf’s greatest team event stepped up another gear today as Minnesota welcomed Captains Darren Clarke and Davis Love III with The 2016 Ryder Cup Year to Go celebrations.
Fittingly for one of the world’s most compelling sporting contests, it was a presentation of jerseys from the five Minnesota sports teams – the Vikings, Timberwolves, Lynx, Twins and Wild – to the two captains which launched the countdown to next year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Representatives from the professional football, hockey, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams handed over named jerseys to the captains as the state of Minnesota prepares to embrace golf’s biennial match between the United States and Europe from next September.
Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton welcomed the captains and guests during a breakfast gathering on the 50th floor of Windows on Minnesota, with stunning views across the Minneapolis skyline, offering a Proclamation of Ryder Cup week to Derek Sprague, President of the PGA of America, to officially kick-off the Ryder Cup Year to Go.
With a backdrop of iconic sporting jerseys, Chris Wright, President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx basketball teams, Dave St Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins baseball, Kevin Warren, Chief Operating Officer of the Minnesota Vikings football, and Matt Majka, Chief Operating Officer of the Minnesota Wild hockey team greeted the two captains.
“It’s a great honour to be here as Ryder Cup Captain,” said Clarke as he presented golf bags signed by both captains as tokens of their thanks to Governor Dayton and the PGA of America for their hospitality, and to the sports teams for their welcome.
“Davis and I have been friends for a very long time,” he recounted. “My first match in The Ryder Cup was 1997 at Valderrama. Seve paired me with Monty and we were facing Davis and Freddie Couples on the first morning. Davis went first and flushed one down the middle. I got up to the first tee, looked down, didn’t really see a ball as I was a little nervous, teed it up higher, then lower, then higher and then thought try and hit it. Fortunately I did but that was out first meeting in the Ryder Cup and since then we have always been very, very good friends.
"Davis waited for me after I won the Open Championship at Royal St George’s and he gave me a big hug and watched the whole presentation." - Darren Clarke
"He is one of the best men in the game of golf, if not the best man, he is a man I have a huge amount of respect for and his integrity is more than anything else.
“I am sure the atmosphere next year will be electric, full of home support as it should be and I know Davis will use that and also ensure the match is played in the manner it should be. I cannot wait to return and we will try and beat Davis as he will try and beat us but when we leave we will leave as friends.”
Love was equally excited about the build up to next year’s encounter.
“Even before being named as Captain I was excited about The Ryder Cup coming to Hazeltine, as the Twin Cities will serve as an incredible backdrop for this event,” he said. “To our friends in the sports franchises, there is a passion for sport in this town, the sports fans here are incredible and we look forward to leaning on all your fans for both teams at The 2016 Ryder Cup.”
Love III will be serving his second term as captain after being denied victory in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012.
“We will try hard to beat Darren but it will be a fair fight. Darren as a gentleman of the game and it was one of my great thrills in sport to watch Darren collect the Claret Jug. I cannot think of a better person to share this journey as captain with.”