by Jeff Skinner
At the Honda Classic yesterday Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III played more like a man trying to make the Ryder Cup Team than a captain looking to lead his team. Love shot a course record tying 64 which included a hole in one at the fifth. The 47 year old Love had it rolling as he leads youngster Rory McIlroy and seven other golfers by two strokes.
Love has been spending plenty of time evaluating his prospective team and earlier this week he said he wanted Tiger Woods on the team. “If he’s healthy, he’s going to make the team one way or another,” Love said. And if it worked for Fred Couples on the President s Cup Team it probably will work for Love on the Ryder Cup Team. Woods is playing much better now than he was last fall going into the Presidents Cup. Currently Woods sits at 32nd on the Ryder cups points list and will have all season to earn his way on the team. But it sounds like Love will make Woods one of his four captain’s picks if Woods falls short. Having Woods as a captain’s pick isn’t a revelation but having a “playing captain” would be.
Love is currently 39th on the Ryder Cup points list and a win here would put him in the top ten on the points list. If Love continues to play well he could be faced with a difficult choice. He could possibly earn his way onto his own team. The last Ryder Cup Team Love played on was in 2004 and his last Presidents Cup was in 2005. And it should stay that way.
If Love has a great season and does gather enough points to qualify for his team there is no way he should be on that team as a player. The days of a playing captain are long gone. The demands of a captain have grown into a full time job and he would be doing a disservice to the team if he played.
Playing on a Ryder Cup Team is the goal of most professional golfers. It shows that they had accomplished much during the past season and earning a slot on the team is the culmination of a lot of hard work. But being a captain is a different animal. The Captain’s responsibilities are all-consuming and certainly need the full attention of the captain.
The days of the playing captain went out with Hagen and Hogan when they would put the Americans out there and buy the drinks after they won. Actually, Arnold Palmer was the last playing captain in 1963. Today’s captaincy requires that a captain spend his time on that and that alone.
If Love is lucky enough to earn a spot it would be a miraculous accomplishment. But for the good of the team he’ll have to decline his own selection.