davis love III

Davis Love III says he's focused on logistical issues now, and will turn his attention more to the players in the coming months.

Q&A with U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III at Hazeltine National Golf Club

By Bob Sansevere, St. Paul Pioneer Press

While many of the golfers expected to participate in the 2016 Ryder Cup were competing Sunday in the Open Championship, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III was visiting Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of next year's international event.

When Love arrived, he was greeted by several dozen Hazeltine National members, who gave him an ovation and chanted "U-S-A." as he stepped out of his SUV. A few minutes later, he was given an honorary membership to Hazeltine National.

He plans to use that membership to play the course, to learn the course.

Love wants a better outcome than some past U.S. Ryder Cup teams, including the 2012 team he captained that lost. He wants to win this time around.

The intent of his Sunday visit was to go over logistics with Hazeltine National and PGA executives. Before Love did any of that, he talked about everything from the importance of U.S. team members familiarizing themselves with the course to whether he believed Tiger Woods would be a member of the 2016 Ryder Cup team.

BS: Are you excited knowing you will have someone as talented as Jordan Spieth on the U.S. team?

DL: We think he might make it. If he's playing like he's playing today (at the Open) he might get all the points between now and then. Jordan has the experience now. He's winning and playing great. It's a great young group of guys. Dustin Johnson is playing really well. Zach Johnson is playing really well. We have a very solid team shaping up.

BS: What do you do about a guy like Tiger Woods? Do you save a captain's pick for him?

DL: That's (2015 Presidents Cup Captain) Jay Haas' issue right now. Is Tiger going to start playing well enough for the Presidents Cup team? I think if Tiger gets healthy (he has a chance). Most of the (Ryder Cup) points are next year so he has a long way to go.

BS: What kind of relationship do you have with Tiger?

DL: It's been great. Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Tom Lehman, Rickie Fowler. We've all grown a lot closer together after all the time we've been spending with this (Ryder Cup) task force. We're very close. He's certainly a team leader on or off the golf course, whether he's playing or not. He'll be very involved in what we do.

BS: What do you think has been wrong with Tiger's game lately?

DL: He just hasn't been playing well or playing enough. I think when he gets some tournaments under his belt (he will improve). He's showing some signs. He's playing in big tournaments. I think he just needs to get some rounds in.

BS: Phil Mickelson was critical of Tom Watson's captaincy in the last Ryder Cup. Have you talked to Phil to find out how supportive he is of you?

DL: Phil and all the guys on the task force, we made this decision to make this a team effort. To revisit how we look at the Ryder Cup as captains and assistant captains. Phil, Tiger, Jim Furyk all said, "We're in for whatever we can do to help." I'm excited about that.

BS: Phil was part of the task force?

DL: Phil was on the task force, yes.

BS: Will those comments about Watson influence whether you put Mickelson on the 2016 team?

DL: From the beginning, when the PGA of America formed a task force, Phil was a big part of the whole process. The last six to eight months, Tiger, Phil, Furyk, Lehman, Rickie Fowler, Raymond Floyd, we've all been very involved.

BS: It sounds like you're encouraging players to come to you with concerns if they have any.

DL: We're pretty far into this as assistant captains and captains, but the players, we really don't know until the middle of next summer who will be on the team. I've been involved as a captain, assistant captain, so I've been around these guys a long time and know them very well. I think that's why I was selected to be captain again. The players and I get along very, very well.

BS: Who is the best Ryder Cup player you've ever seen?

DL: On our side, Payne Stewart. He really raised the level. He certainly inspired the team. He was inspirational to me playing matches with him. Obviously, he has a history here (at Hazeltine National where Stewart won the 1991 U.S. Open; he died in 1999). So we'll be relying on some of Payne's inspiration and spirit. And on their side, obviously, Seve Ballesteros. Seve was an incredible Ryder Cup player. He always raised his game.

BS: How much pressure is there on you to win the Ryder Cup?

DL: That's the problem. That's why we keep losing. We have so much pressure. We want to win the Ryder Cup so badly that we get in our own way. Certainly, Jordan Spieth is playing extremely well in individual tournaments. We play well in the Presidents Cup. We have not played well in the Ryder Cup. We just try too hard. Giving the players some input, giving them some ownership in the team, taking everybody's ideas and putting them together so everybody feels like they're prepared this time, I think, is going to be the biggest difference.

BS: Have you started scribbling down names and how you'd team them up?

DL: No. That's way out for next year. You never know who is going to get hurt and who's going to be ready to go. It could change dramatically. Obviously, Jordan has enough points. He can probably coast in from here. But the rest of the team, we really don't know. We're working more on logistics now. We're working on team uniforms and hotels and clubhouses, things like that. The players' side of that will come later. Messaging to the players and talking to them about ideas starts in earnest next year.

This article was written by Bob Sansevere from St. Paul Pioneer Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.