PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Ryder Cup team traditionally starts to take shape at the Memorial when the top players are invited to one of the cottages at Muirfield Village to be fitted for uniforms. Davis Love III wants to get an earlier start in his second stint as captain.
Love said his first “team meeting” would be in two week at the Honda Classic for at least 20 players, maybe twice that many, depending on who is playing.
“We’re going to have a dinner during the week of Honda, and then we’ll probably have two or three more,” Love said Wednesday. “So I’m going to be a little bit more focused this time on the start, work my way through the points list and make sure that we’ve got everybody covered — not wait until the Memorial Tournament when we have a clothes fitting to talk to the guys for the first time.”
Love said he is paying so much more attention to the points, even eight months before the matches at Hazeltine, that he caught a mistake in the standings recently before they were published.
He said Tom Lehman, one of his vice captains, recalled having his first team dinner at the Bridgestone Invitational, just over six weeks from the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland.
“That’s too late for us now. We want to get ahead of the game,” Love said.
Love also said another vice captain, Tiger Woods, suggested getting together away from the golf course, perhaps a fishing trip to hang out and talk shop.
“I think if we all get to know each other a little bit better in March and April and May, rather than waiting until August and September, we’re going to be better off,” he said.
THE TROPHY: Jordan Spieth has a green jacket from winning the Masters. Equally inspiring was to see his name on the trophy — twice.
Spieth went to Augusta National in December with his father and his agent. One of the more poignant memories of that trip was seeing the Champions Locker Room (he shares a locker with four-time champion Arnold Palmer) and the Masters trophy.
“There’s actually a lot of people who don’t realize there’s a Masters trophy, and it’s huge and it sits in the center of the room when you walk in the main clubhouse area there,” he said. “They have the winners and they have the runner-ups on the trophy. My name was on that trophy from finishing runner-up (in 2014). And this year I was able to go back, pick out where it was where my name was on as the runner-up, and then look one spot down and diagonal and there’s your name for winning it with the score.
“And that,” he said, “was really cool.”
PRIORITIES: The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is only the third tournament for Jason Day since the Tour Championship. He rallied on Sunday at Kapalua with a 65 to finish tied for 10th (15 shots behind Jordan Spieth) and missed the cut at Torrey Pines while playing with the flu.
He expected a slow start to the year given his time off. But it’s the time off, he says, that sets him apart from Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler.
“Rickie and Jordan don’t have kids and stuff like that yet,” Day said. “So it’s very important for me to make sure that I see my kids grow up and obviously see the birth of my second child, Lucy. And they will get there one day and they will probably go through the same things that I’m feeling and going through as well.”
His wife gave birth to their second child in November.
“It’s all good stuff,” Day said. “It can be difficult at times, but that’s where the balance of being a professional golfer, playing at an elite level against the best players in the world and trying to balance family life and personal stuff is difficult to do. But over time you get better and better at it.”
PLAYING FOR THE CAPTAIN: Davis Love III says the two toughest losses he ever endured as a player at the Ryder Cup was in 1995 at Oak Hill and in 1997 at Valderrama. It was more about the captains than his record.
Lanny Wadkins was his captain at Oak Hill, and Love recalled an era when both teams have a dinner after the matches.
“I saw with Lanny and … it was a very quiet dinner,” he said. “You know Lanny. So excited about it, so into it. He put everything he could into it for a year-and-a-half, and then to have it all unravel right there at the end, I was really, really disappointed for him.”
Love felt the same way about Tom Kite and his captaincy two years later. Love, Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard were major champions in 1997, and they combined to go 1-9-3 in the matches. Love lost all four of his matches.
“Tiger and Justin and I were playing so well, and we went over there and none of us played well,” he said.
He at least was able to use that experience when Love was captain in Medinah and Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit. He recalled Brandt Snedeker telling him that “I owe you one” because of the loss.
“I said, ‘You don’t owe me one,’” Love said. “If we’re starting to add up who owes who, I owe Kite and Wadkins and a lot of captains.”