Seems U.S. captain Davis Love III can’t miss with Ryder Cup possibilities
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org June 27, 2012 8:56PM
U.S. Open - Preview Day 3
When: Sept. 25-30.
Where: Medinah Country Club in Medinah.
Format: The United States points system will determine the top eight players for the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team on Aug. 12 based on performance and money earned in qualifying tournaments with an added emphasis on majors. Captain Davis Love III selects four players in September to complete the U.S. Team.
Updated: September 14, 2012 6:47PM
Davis Love III, who tied for third at the St. Jude Classic earlier this month, would love to compete in the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. But even though he’s the captain, he considers himself a long shot.
‘‘Now, I’m excited about my game, and I’m glad people bring it up, but it’s going to be tough to move up from 42,’’ Love told the Sun-Times, referring to his current rank in the Team USA Standings. ‘‘Realistically, I’m going to have to win a couple of times. And right now, when I look at the list, I’m looking at 25 up, not 25 down.’’
Europe edged the United States 14½ to 131/2 in the last Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in October 2010. But that was during a dominant stretch when Europeans, particularly Irish players, won seven of nine major championships.
Americans have won the last three, and they’ve had a dominant season. The last European to win a PGA Tour event was Carl Pettersson at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina in mid-April.
‘‘We’ve got so many players playing so well — they’re kind of knocking each other around a little,’’ Love said. ‘‘I’m excited about guys winning tournaments. Guys like Dustin [Johnson], who was coming off an injury. And obviously [Jason] Dufner. And Webb [Simpson] getting his first win. And [Matt Kuchar] winning The Players [Championship]. So many guys playing so well.
‘‘It’s obviously going to be tough, when you get your final eight, to pick four. I keep looking at them and I say, ‘How do I pick the next four?’ Luckily, I get to defer for a few months.’’
At the moment, in order, the automatic eight are Bubba Watson, Dufner, Simpson, Phil Mickelson, Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson. Once the automatic eight are established, Love said he’ll ‘‘plug some holes’’ and figure out what his team may need.
Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and Johnson are the next three in the rankings. Love, though, sounds partial to a couple of other veterans who aren’t much lower.
‘‘You could go with some rookies,” he said, noting the number of players who have Ryder Cup experience. ‘‘But what jumps out at me is, ‘You don’t have Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.’ If you look at the recent teams, where is your stability? Where’s Furyk? How can you play without Steve Stricker? When you start playing that game, you start filling in blanks, it becomes hard.”
In addition to experience, a player looking for a captain’s pick needs something else: a hot putter.
‘‘We might have to do that,’’ Love said. ‘‘But if you took a dart and threw it, you’d get four good guys. That’s the beauty of it. The trick is, how do we complement the guys already on the team?’’
Helping him make those decisions will be two of his closest friends, Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert, whom he named the first of his assistants Wednesday.
‘‘Those are two guys I’ve relied on for a lot of things for a lot of years,’’ Love said. We’ve been through a lot together.’’
Love said Couples has an ‘‘aura about him’’ and a knack for firing people up. Hulbert, meanwhile, is a humble funnyman.
‘‘If I didn’t pick Freddie,’’ Love said, ‘‘everyone would ask, ‘Where is Freddie?’ Mike Hulbert will get a new golf cart or fold towels or anything we ask him to do.’’