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Captain’s Blog: A Big Week Ahead

By Davis Love III
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain

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 ninth installment of Love’s, ‘Captain’s Blog,’ as told to PGA.com’s T.J. Auclair.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — After all this planning, we’re now just 51 days away from the first ball being struck at Medinah in the Ryder Cup. But first, we have the PGA Championship this week and it’ll be really nice to have the points list done. By Sunday night, we’ll know who eight of our 12 team members are going to be. I know there are a lot of players who will be glad when that part of it is done.

It’ll also be nice to just take one step closer to being ready to play. This is a huge step. We’re getting close to having a team. Once these eight members are in on points, then we can focus on picks. It’s been really hard for me to even begin to think about picks to this point, because you don’t know who’s going to need a pick. You don’t know if Hunter Mahan is in or out. You don’t know if Phil Mickelson is in or out. You don’t know if Keegan Bradley is in or out. There have been too many scenarios these last 5-6 weeks for me to get my head around potential picks.

Now we’re getting closer on assistant captains, closer on a team and after this week things will start to crystallize.

When you look at the standings right now, we’re deep. There are guys winning that people might not have even been thinking about — like Scott Piercy. He won in Canada and has been getting a lot of points. Brandt Snedeker has moved up. There’s just been a lot going on. That’s why I’m excited about getting this week over with from a Ryder Cup standpoint. The team is finally going to take shape.

It’ll be nice because the team crystallizes, but then it’s going to get tougher. You start realizing that you’re going to have to make your four picks and somebody’s going to get left out. We’re going to have to make a decision, whether it’s between Dustin and Rickie, or Rickie and Brandt, or whoever. They’re all your friends and somebody’s going to get left out. It’s not going to get any easier, it’s just going to get a little clearer.

It was nice to see Keegan Bradley win last week coming in here as the defending champ. I think he’s been trying really hard. I think he felt like he probably could have won a couple of times early in the year. Maybe he felt like he had something to prove, he wanted to make some points for the FedEx and for the Ryder Cup and maybe he was trying really hard. But, he’s turned around in the other direction lately. He’s focused on just playing. That other stuff will take care of itself if you play well.

That win was huge for him and it was great momentum coming here to Kiawah. Any time you have a tournament end the way the Bridgestone Invitational did, where we have three of our guys competing to win, it shows the rest of the world that we’re playing well. It’s exciting for me, even though it’s tough if Jim Furyk doesn’t win, or it’s tough if Steve Stricker doesn’t win, but then Keegan wins and that’s great.

I’ve said it before, watching at Riviera earlier this season was one of the great tournaments for me to watch all year. Three of our guys — Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley — all making putts at the end, trying to win a golf tournament. That’s what’s exciting — watching these guys make putts when they need it most. I told Jim Furyk, great players get in position to win a lot and crazy things happen. I mean, Steve almost could have won last week too. That’s how you win golf tournaments. Steve, Keegan and Jim just get there a whole bunch. Jim had an unfortunate finish there and at the U.S. Open, but he’s been there 50 times, so he’s going to see it all. He’s going to win some and he’s going to lose some.

It’s just great that all our guys are just competing like that week in and week out.

One thing I’m happy about this week is that I don’t have to make my captain’s picks just yet. That’s how it used to be up until the last Ryder Cup. The captain had to make his picks right after the tournament ended.

I remember for the 2006 Ryder Cup, Tom Lehman was at the PGA Championship cruising around, watching guys play and trying to play in the tournament himself. It’s hard to do and I really think it takes away from the PGA Championship. It takes away from it for a lot of guys.

If Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk knew this was the absolute last week, it would have an impact on their play. I think it’s better that we wait a few weeks to make the picks. I’ve been in that position where I’ve missed a team — actually here in 1991 at Kiawah — and then came right back and played really well after that, thinking to myself, “Man, if I had a couple of more weeks to show him, then who knows?”

Now we’re in a situation where we have eight guys that will know they’re in at week’s end and eight more that are still playing for a spot, or 10 more — even Fred Couples — trying to make the team.

I like the way the system is set up now.

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