Captain’s Blog: The team is ready for Medinah
Blog by Davis Love III, September 5
Yesterday, I was finally able to announce my four captain’s picks. It was a long day in New York City, but it was exciting. I’m glad to have that part of the process over with.
I was really nervous announcing the four names, believe it or not. Once I got the four names out, everything was easier after that. I felt like everyone there was hanging on every word. It was pretty intense for me before I got Dustin, Jim, Brandt and Steve’s names out there. I didn’t realize until today — sitting here waiting on a flight — exactly just how stressful it was going to be over the last couple of months with decision day coming. You affect a huge portion of your team right there.
Now I feel better. I feel like the biggest task from the pre-Ryder Cup management side is behind me and now it’s all about playing. Making pairings is different than making picks. Now it’s about playing the Ryder Cup — a mode I’m certainly more comfortable with having been around seven teams. As I’ve noticed, the more you play, the more the captain gets you involved and you’re aware of the process. In 2010 with Corey Pavin as the captain in Wales (I was an assistant), we were into it in depth. I don’t think things will get any easier for me, but it’ll all be more familiar going forward.
These last two years have flown by. It’s hard to believe we’re about to actually play this Ryder Cup. It’s like Christmas, really. It always seems a long way away, but before you know it, it’s here and then the next thing you know, it’s over. I’m looking forward to seven days in Chicago with these guys. This is what it’s all about. As Tom Watson has always said about the Ryder Cup, “It’s a big adventure.” It’ll be really exciting and it’ll be even more special since it’s in Chicago.
I said in my press conference on Tuesday that I made my picks based on pairings. What I mean by that is that we’re going to have a clear understanding of what we’re trying to do before we get there. Someone asked — are you going to have some simulated matches? No. These guys are playing in the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship. That’s their practice before Ryder Cup week. They’ll be ready to play.
I want them to be clear before they get there who they’ll play with in the practice rounds and in the matches. There won’t be any lobbying about playing with certain guys come Monday night of Ryder Cup week. There will be no question marks. It can change during the week, of course, but who you see practicing together in the Tuesday round will have been decided the week before. That comes from the success Paul Azinger had at Valhalla in 2008 and from what Fred Couples has done as captain in the Presidents Cup. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is like being a football coach. In football you need to have your plays ready before the game. It’s the same thing with the Ryder Cup.
As hard as it was to pick just four guys, I have to say — the most enjoyable part of being the U.S. Ryder Cup Captain so far was making the phone calls to tell Dustin, Jim, Brandt and Steve that they were on the team. Sure, it was fun to get our top eight after the PGA Championship, but that’s different. These four guys that were picked had to sweat it out and battle. Those were fun calls to make. I had a couple of guys that probably weren’t so surprised and I had a couple that were more surprised and they were very thankful and appreciative.
Brandt was so excited. It was cool telling a first-time guy that he was picked. That was the most fun. As fun as it was to tell those four, it was just as difficult to tell the others they didn’t make it. I’ve been around those guys a long time and that wasn’t fun at all. Plus, once the Ryder Cup ends, it’s not like I can go duck and hide on the Champions Tour. I’m headed right back out on the PGA Tour to play the end of the season and I’ll be playing with these guys again, probably even paired with them. I’ll have to face them. Luckily, they’re big boys though. I needed to make a big decision and they all handled it great. Unfortunately the way this system works is, when you finish outside the top 8, you lose control of your destiny.