Ryder Cup: Captain Davis Love III's NYC media blitz
NEW YORK -- Ryder Cup USA Captain Davis Love III was in the Big Apple on Monday, making the media rounds to discuss his eight qualifiers for the 2016 matches and to kick off a month-long, 15-city tour of the Ryder Cup Trophy.
Love's whirlwind day began with a spot on CNBC's Squawk Box Morning Show, followed by a hit on the Today Show for a putting contest against host Carson Daly before a press conference in Midtown, then moved on to Facebook's NYC Headquarters for a Facebook Live session and finally ended with a stop at Ralph Lauren's flagship store on Fifth Avenue for the unveiling of the U.S. uniforms.
We were able to sneak into a limo with Love from Facebook HQ over to Ralph Lauren to talk about the day that was and how it really started the build up of anticipation for players and fans alike for the matches beginning on Sept. 30 at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn.
PGA.com: Has the excitement level picked up for you now that you know who your top-8 qualifiers are?
Love: It's really nice to know who those top 8 are now -- especially after a dramatic day at Bethpage Black in the final round of the Barclays on Sunday. It was nice that Zach Johnson got in. He's a good friend and I know he's been stressing over it. We had dinner after the Wyndham, talking about planning and I just felt like he was going to get in.
Obviously, Rickie almost knocked him out. It's nice to have the top 8 so we can start thinking about our picks.
PGA.com: It's been a busy day for you, hasn't it?
Love: I had fun going on the Squawk Box and the Today Show, Facebook headquarters -- that's all cool stuff that you never think you're going to get to do. It was an exciting day. It seems like these days in New York just get better and better.
My wife, Robin, is a big Today Show fan. We've seen a lot of big-time names on that show through the years. For them to say, "Hey, you're going to be on the Today Show," it's just kind of hard to grasp that. Millions of people are going to be watching.
I had a little putting contest with Carson Daly and I was nervous about the putt. You know everybody's watching.
It was an incredible experience to get to do all that. I say every two years, "The Ryder Cup just keeps getting bigger and bigger," and days like today show that. We don't have to explain what the Ryder Cup is. Everybody knows what it is now on the Today Show, or Squawk Box, or at Facebook. No matter where you go, they know what it is.
But now, I'm just excited to move forward. We've been talking about this day for a long time and now that it's finally here, we can scratch it off the to-do list and start thinking about picks.
PGA.com: It looked like PGA Tour player Blayne Barber was out there watching you on the Today Show this morning.
Love: Yeah. Blayne Barber was out there with his wife this morning. They were just bumping around the city for the day and she's a big Today Show fan, so they came to check it out. He said they didn't even know I was going to be there, so that was pretty neat.
PGA.com: Have you ever seen an office space like what we just saw at Facebook? What a cool, fun environment.
Love: It was neat to get in the offices of such a modern company like that. For somebody like me, who barely knows how Facebook works, to get the behind-the-scenes look at it was very cool.
There's so much forward thinking in the way they operate their business and so much technology. It was pretty incredible. I learned a lot. You go to a place like that and you learn about business and ways to do things. I think I need free snacks at all my businesses to keep my employees happy.
PGA.com: Certain players were going through a spectrum of emotions on Sunday trying to play their way onto the team. What was that experience like for you as the captain?
Love: I was just nervous in general for all of them. I know they're thinking about more than just trying to win the tournament. They're trying to hold positions -- or move up -- whether it's for FedExCup or Ryder Cup points.
You know Rickie Fowler knew what he had to do to win and he knew what he had to do to make the team. It was a lot of pressure on a hard golf course. I was nervous for him, but now I'm glad it's over.
Rickie and I had some good texts last night. I talked to Zach. Everyone knows where they are now and can relax and go play.
PGA.com: Right now we're in a limo headed to the Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue to get a look at the U.S. uniforms. That's an important part of the job as Captain, isn't it?
Love: Obviously Ben Crenshaw's shirts in 1999 were the best we ever had because it was a great day [laughs].
It's important to make sure the players get what they need to be comfortable and be able to play their best in any weather. As a player, I'm looking at it from one side. You know with Ralph Lauren you're going to look good. It's just a matter of getting the right technical stuff.
Being with Ralph Lauren for more than 20 years, it's pretty easy for me to help pick it out. Obviously their design team, along with my wife Robin, had a lot to do with the looks, but I was more on the performance side and making sure that it would be comfortable. There's a wide variety in shapes and sizes of bodies, so it's important to make sure everyone looks good, but is also comfortable. It's got to work for everybody. That's the hardest thing.
PGA.com: What are your next few weeks like leading up to Hazeltine?
Love: Like Tiger and I were saying to each other over the weekend -- we've never watched this much golf in our whole lives. We're really dialed in on watching these guys play.
I thought a lot about going to the tournaments to watch. In 1993 when I started doing this, the Captain had to go and watch. He had to be on site, because he couldn't really keep up unless he was there.
Now, you can just watch it on your phone and on Shotlink. You can see, "well, that guy made a bogey. How did he make that bogey?" You can look at every little detail and crunch the stats. I'll probably stay away from watching them to keep them from getting more nervous, but I'll be watching a lot of golf and talking to the assistant captains and running some kind of little mock drafts to make our groups.
We'll also be dividing up the responsibilities for the assistant captains. Of the top 8, which guys are going with Steve Stricker? Which are going with Tiger? Stuff like that. Now we can get into this gameplan that we've been talking about for a year and a half. We can start breaking it down.
PGA.com: During the presser this morning, you talked about things you've learned from 2012 and what you maybe could have done differently. Looking back, is there anything you truly could have done differently? You had a 10-6 lead going into the final day -- which is tremendous -- but the Europeans made all the putts on the final day. That's not something you can really plan for, is it?
Love: We had a pretty good gameplan at Medinah and it almost worked. We looked all the way back to 2008 and said, "what's worked well and what hasn't?"
It's not like we have 20 things that we've done wrong in these Ryder Cups and we've got to fix all of them. We just need to get a little bit better at what we do well. The main thing is getting to know your players, knowing what to say to them in certain situations and covering all your bases.
I think the only thing we didn't really plan well for at Medinah was having a four-point lead going into singles. We didn't know what we were going to say or do Saturday night, or how we were going to keep the guys focused on the ultimate goal.
We're not going to do anything a whole lot different and hopefully we can get another four-point lead and finish it off.
We're not just talking about the 2012 and 2016 Ryder Cups. We're talking about a system we're going to run for Ryder Cup for years to come and have a continuity from year to year and let these guys see the same captains around them a lot and build for the future.
We're just missing a few things and trying to fill in the blanks to get better every year.