Ryder Cup Captains Don’t Need Friends
by Jeff Skinner
Davis Love III isn’t ready to let the Ryder Cup go just yet. Just because Love is one of the “old guys” on tour doesn’t mean he is any less competitive. Since the painful Sunday collapse at the Ryder Cup Love has played three consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. Whether he is trying to shake the memory of a total meltdown by his players or just trying to show these young kids that he still has it is up for debate.
One thing that isn’t up for debate is his competitive spirit. Love isn’t out here just to keep busy and maybe replace the Ryder Cup memories with a win. He has a specific goal in mind: he wants to play his way onto the 2014 Presidents Cup Team. “The way I’m hitting it the last three weeks I’m having fun and I want to try to play (on the U.S. Presidents Cup team),” Love said.
Love had his good friend and Presidents Cup captain, Fred Couples serve as an assistant for Love on his Ryder Cup team. And Couples was asked if he was going to return the favor. But Love looks serious in his attempt to play his way on the team.
This is where I think Love’s captaincy of the Ryder Cup was flawed and it happened long before he sat Phil and Keegan on Saturday or put Tiger in the twelfth slot. One of the many talking heads made this point, I can’t recall which, that Love may have been too close to many of the players on the team. He was close friends with all of the “older guys” on the team, especially his captain’s picks of Stricker and Furyk. He had to go back out on the course and play with these guys and share the locker room with them. Maybe his decision making could have been clouded by his close relationship with his friends. He still has to live with these guys everyday and making any tough decision may have had repercussions beyond the Ryder Cup.
It’s a valid point: making tough calls against your friends is different from dealing with someone where there is only a professional relationship. Maybe the PGA should consider getting an even older “older guy” to captain in 2015. The only contemporary captain to have any success was Paul Azinger. The thinking that the captain needs to be young enough to have played with half the team has backfired. Get someone that is done playing the regular tour and is removed from the everyday life on tour. He’ll have enough respect from the team just because he is the captain. He doesn’t need to be their friend. He needs to be their captain. Sounds like a case for Larry Nelson if I ever heard one.