Davis Love III
Sea Island, Georgia
THE MODERATOR: (In progress.) I would like to thank you for joining is for this Ryder Cup news conference. I would also like to thank our 2016 United States Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love, III for finding some time in his very busy, hectic schedule this week to spend some time updating everyone here on Ryder Cup activities.
Also like to make it known that the PGA of America president Derek Sprague and Pete Bevacqua, who are also on the PGA Ryder Cup committee with Davis, are in attendance today if anybody would like to speak with them at the conclusion of this news conference.
Davis, again, thank you very much for finding some time to be with us today. I know you’ve been very, very busy planning this week. You’ve also been very, very busy with some Ryder Cup work.
Maybe now is the time to share some of that.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, on February 24th I was lucky enough to be named the 2016 Ryder Cup captain for the US team. On that same day, I announced Tom Lehman would my first assistant vice captain. He’s proved to be incredibly valuable to me over that period of time.
We’ve worked hard on logistics. He’s been a great asset obviously being a local boy up in Minnesota. He’s given me great advice not only on the town, but the fans, the golf course. We have done a lot of work with Carey Hague on the golf course, and Tom has been really valuable with that. He will continue to be an asset.
Since that announcement, Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America have agreed to expand the number of vice captains from four to five. Over the years it’s grown and grown. Hopefully it will not grow more. There are five.
It’s grown over the years, and today I’m happy to announce that we’re going to announce three more of our vice captains. These three guys joining Tom Lehman will send a message to our team that we are really serious about this Ryder Cup so that the members know that we’re going to do whatever it takes to put them in the best position to win in 2016.
That being said, the vice captains I wanted to announce today are Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, and Tiger Woods. Two things that excite me about those vice captains is, as I’ve said since we had the start of the task force and the new committee, to a man they said, We will do anything you ask us to do to make this Ryder Cup successful; put this team in the hunt best position to win.
And second, these four guys bring over 50 years of combined Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience to the table. I’ve surrounded myself with passionate people who have a tremendous amount of match play experience.
I understand that this is the first time we’ve announced these assistant captains this early. I think it’s important that we do so this time because these guys can help me over the next year. They can be out on tour talking to players. The players will be able to identify who their guys are, team leaders.
They’ll be my eyes and ears out there every week on tour. Even though I’m going to be out there I hope a lot with them. Going to make an incredible statement to our players that, Hey, these guys are ready to go. We’re excited about it. We have a game plan.
Also leaves us with a fifth captain we can name later. See how guys are playing and where this planning is going and get us really set up, so when we get to the spring and we can go out there and play golf at Hazeltine again. We’re ready to go and making plans.
THE MODERATOR: Open up to questions.
Q. To name specifically Tiger and Jim as vice captains, does that mean they won’t be playing next year?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, they — well, and Steve. I talked to Steve yesterday a lot about deer season, how it was going up there. But Steve wants to play just as badly as the rest of is want to make the Ryder Cup team.
All three of these have said — and I say it again — and I agreed to be the Ryder Cup captain out of this Task Force and new committee because Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Raymond Floyd said, We will do whatever it takes to help you. That’s the only way I agreed to do it.
So Tiger has said, I want to make the team and I also want to be a captain. Steve and Jim, same thing. Want to make the team and also want to help. They want to show the younger players that this group of guys is committed to doing whatever we can to win. Yeah, they want to make the team. If they make the team, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.
We have the luxury with five guys that Tiger wants to be a playing assistant. That’s his goal. With five guys, we have the luxury of letting him do that. Jim and Tom and I and Steve, we want to make the team but we’re realistic. If we make the team, somebody else is going to have to take our role.
But I think Tiger is so excited about it. You saw what came of the Presidents Cup, how excited he was. He was calling us and texting us wanting know what’s going on. He wants to be involved in any way.
Talked to him several times over the last few weeks about his back, how he’s feeling, how he’s playing, or how he’s practicing. He’s excited about it. He wants to make the team. Don’t mistake that’s his No. 1 goal.
But he’s also committed to helping me do whatever we can to get ready. So I’m excited that all these guys are working in the same direction.
Q. If we get to the other side of the bridge, could Tiger be a playing vice captain?
DAVIS LOVE III: That’s his goal, I think, right now. He wants to play and be a vice captain. He wants to be the leader of his group, whoever that is, of guys that he’s going to probably play with.
You know, the pod or group system, Jay did it a little bit differently than Paul did, but he had groups of guys that he wanted to play together. Tiger wants to be a leader of that group, but he wants to do it from on the golf course. He doesn’t want to be the general sitting in the room; he wants to be in the battle.
I talked at length with Jim, Tom, and Steve about it. You know, they agree. Tiger is very capable of doing that. If I made the team, I would want to just play. I would want to focus on playing. I would think my mind would be too many other places.
Obviously he’s a different kind of player, person. I think he would relish that role. From before we even started this Task Force, Tiger was the one in my ear all the time about here is the things we need to do. He really loves being involved.
Phil, I talked to him several times during the Vegas week I think it was about planning, what had happened over in Korea, how excited he was about playing, the things we needed to do for the future of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
These guys are incredibly engaged and ready to go.
Q. (No microphone.)
DAVIS LOVE III: No, they want to make the team. That’s why we’re naming them so early. We got to get to work. So Jim and Steve, if they don’t make the team they’ll be assistant captains. If they do, which I’m hoping — I asked them both. I want you to make the team first, then I want you to be…
But we have some guys — we had a great past captains dinner at Pebble Beach during the First Tee tournament. We’ve had great conversations with all the past captains that were not there. They were all willing to do whatever it takes to make this team successful as well.
So we have plenty of guys. If Jim Furyk continues his good play, which would be no surprise, and he makes the team, he will be involved in the planning phases, but somebody will have to take his role to drive the golf carts and watch the guys play and feed me information.
He would still be totally involved like he was at Medinah. Jim was one of the guys I leaned on even though he was playing, but we’re not going to make him play and clean clubs.
Q. Just to clarify further, the vice captains have to make the team or will you consider them for captain’s picks?
DAVIS LOVE III: We haven’t gotten that far. Another plan. You know, like Phil. Phil grinding hard to make the team, and he’s obviously a team leader. Those guys would be an asset to the team if they were playing well enough and they were on the bubble.
Obviously Tom and I would have to probably make a decision on Jim. No, we would consider anybody that’s playing well, no matter what their role in the Ryder Cup is.
Q. Along those same lines, I know you still have one more vice captain pick to make for lack of a better term, but what Phil considered as a vice captain?
DAVIS LOVE III: Phil? Yes. I watched him play. I got to watch him play most of his golf in Korea. He’s playing unbelievably well. He walked off 18 green saying, I’m ready for the Ryder Cup. I know it was a year away. He’s focused on playing — obviously he’s making some changes in the way he works on his golf game recently.
So he’s excited about next year. He says, Look, I’ll help you in any way I can, but I’m going to focus on making the team.
Now, we have an open pick. We have another guy. Who that’s going to be, I don’t know. We’ll talk to Phil in the summer and see how he’s playing and how he feels. That gives us an option of adding another guy with this fifth assistant. It really gives me a lot of flexibility going forward.
We’re hoping Jim and Steve and Tiger all play very well. We may have to hand off one guy or another. But Phil is definitely still incredibly involved. He’s focused on playing, and I appreciate that and I want him to make the team because the way he played in Korea was unbelievable.
Q. Davis, is it within the rules that even though you named these vice captains, if they make the team are you then allowed to take them out of that role and appoint another two or three or four or whatever you need number of vice captains?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think I’m allowed — as long as I don’t have ten radios out there, yeah. Five guys with radios, I think that’s the rule. I applaud Darren. We’ve had this four rule or limit on assistant captains, and there has been a lot of people the last few Ryder Cups with radios. So we just defined it: You can have up to five and that’s it.
Now, like Tom Watson, you can have two. We found it’s become such a massive week as my son Dru pointed out when we were playing a practice round at Medinah, he goes, How are you going to get back and forth over these bridges with your golf carts?
We went, Oh, my gosh. It’s so big that the logistics of it — we had a crew of guys behind the scenes that were — including the PGA of America — driving our carts. We have a huge staff of people.
But, no, let’s just say — which I hope that all three of them make the team — they will still be advisers, but they will have to be replaced. Tiger doesn’t want to be, but Steve and Jim and Tom or I. I keep throwing Tom in and he says, Look, I don’t think I’m going to make it.
If somebody plays well enough and has to be replaced, they will still be — Steve Stricker would still be a huge asset to me playing giving me advice, but somebody is to take his role.
We have some guys that we’ve already identified and we’ve talked to and said, Hey, look, you said you’d help us in any way. We might need you. We have a long list.
This is a new start for this whole — when Derek and Pete got us going with this Task Force, whole new start. Things have changed since we started. Obviously four to five has changed. Guys have given us great ideas we need to work on. We’ve learned a lot since December. We’ve learned a lot and we will continue to learn a lot.
These guys signed up and engaged, and you cannot believe the conversations that I’ve had with all of those guys on the Task Force, the committee. We’ve whittled it down to it’s Tom and Tiger and Jim and Steve and I. We’re off and running. We’ve got our group and we’re going to get to work.
New things will come up. I bet in January or February when we sit down and talk at the next press conference we’ll have something new. We’re on it this time. We’re really working hard on getting ahead of the game. We’ve learned a lot, again, from 2010 when I started this process.
Q. Davis, maybe this is related to, as you were saying, a new start. We’re hearing a great deal about Tiger Woods and how enthusiastic he is and how excited he is. Is this a different level of excitement and enthusiasm than he’s had before, or for some reason we’re knowing about it more?
DAVIS LOVE III: No, you’re knowing about it more. Everybody is listening a little bit. There was a reason — when the PGA of America named this group of guys on the Task Force, there is a reason each guy was picked. They were already engaged and giving input. They were already veteran players of the Ryder Cup. They already had committed a lot of time and effort to it, starting with Raymond Floyd all the way down to the youngest guy on the Task Force, Rickie Fowler. A lot of passion and energy and commitment into the Ryder Cup.
Yeah, you’re hearing about it because, one, we’ve told you a lot about it. But you’ve seen the outcome. It’s different. Not many people would’ve bet that I would’ve been the Ryder Cup captain when you left Gleneagle. It’s a new era, and you’re hearing about it.
I’ve told you before that Tiger and Phil are incredibly good partners playing table tennis. You’re hearing they really are excited about playing international team competitions. They love it. They don’t like losing.
That is where this all came from. We have not liked the outcome, and we are banding together to change the game plan and hopefully the outcome down the road. Not just for this Ryder Cup, but for the future.
Tiger, Phil, Jim, we’re thinking all the way past Bethpage. We’re not thinking about just laying the groundwork for this team. The PGA of America gave us a great task, and we’re committed to it. Every conversation we have is not just for Hazeltine. It’s for down the road as well.
So, yeah, you’re hearing a bunch of guys, and Tiger is the biggest name. Phil is the biggest name, but Steve Stricker is taking time out of his schedule, and Jim Furyk is taking time and Tom Lehman is — we’re all working on it together. You’re just hearing about it is the difference.
Q. Talking about Tiger and the conversations, can you give us a bigger window into what some of the conversations are? Ten plus months out, what are some of the things you guys can get done this far out?
DAVIS LOVE III: I’ve given you a really big window already into what our conversations are. I can tell you that he’s excited about his progress in his back and he’s wanting to play some golf. He’s anxious. I know. I’ve been through two rehabs recently. It’s not fun.
Where we are ten months out is we’re — we don’t want to wait until the summer to think about what we’re going to do when we go play a practice round. We want to — all right, Jordan Spieth, I was kidding him at the Presidents Cup that he didn’t have enough points, and he went and the next time he played got more points. So he’s probably got enough points to make the team mathematically now.
Starting with Jordan Spieth and then the next guy that makes the team, we’re going to start talking to them. Sit down and say, All right, what do we need to do to help you prepare? We’re not going to wait until two weeks before and ask him questions about getting ready for the golf course. Get his opinion on the golf course.
Tiger has already told me, This is how I prepare for a major championship. I’ve already been what, three times to Hazeltine. Here is what I want you to look for. Ben Crenshaw, same thing. You need to think about this on this golf course.
That’s the kind of things we can do the next ten months. Now, it’s just like any committee, any board of directors. A lot of ideas are going get thrown out and we need it whittle them down.
The reason I’m naming these guys is, one, so if Rickie Fowler or Brooks Koepka has a question and he doesn’t see Davis Love, he can grab Steve Stricker or Jim Furyk or Jimmy Walker and I are getting to know each other a lot better. But Jimmy Walker might have been more comfortable at Korea talking to Steve Stricker than me because he knows him a little bit better.
So if there is a guy out there on tour that says, I really don’t know Davis well. I don’t want to approach him with this question. You can go to Jim Furyk.
I think that’s important for this team. There are 20, 30, 40 guys right now that think they’re on the team, right? So they need to know who to talk to, who to ask questions. What do I need to do? What do I need to do to impress Davis? Nothing. Go make points.
They need to know who to ask the questions and who to talk to, and, frankly, who to learn from. What are we gonna do? You guys have seen it. How do I need to prepare? And ten months not too early to start talking about it. Or at Kapalua when we’re all back together again.
Q. Four vice captains effectively can put one vice with each match on Friday, Saturday team sessions. What does the fifth do for you? Did anyone in the group look at what Paul did last year in sending out a captain — and I forgot which vice went with them — with the guys that weren’t playing that day and kind of baby-sat them that day?
DAVIS LOVE III: There are a lot of things you can do with the fifth guy. One thing I saw at Korea, we got the luxury of adding Jim Furyk at the last minute. We had somebody with every match.
Well, Jay called me, I need you to go back to No. 2. I had the captain’s advice. Go back to No. 2 and tell everybody to do this off the tee. I left my wingman. I had my guys I been watching all week, and I left them.
So if you had a floater guy that was a captain that could walk up on 2 tee, All right, everybody hit driver here. Don’t hit 3-wood. That’s the luxury. You can give a guy — it’s a free safety. He can go do whatever you need him to at this particular time on this particular play.
So because we agreed up to five, we’re going to use five, and use them in the best way we can. There are a lot of ways we can use them. But you’re right. One guy with every match that’s on the golf course, then when you get to Sunday it gets really tough because you obviously can’t send one guy with every match.
We broke them up in Korea to little three-man groups. You’re handing guys off and handing off sweaters. I had Patrick Reed’s sweater and was supposed to be watching this guy.
So having an extra person out there is going to really, really help if you get in a jam. And you do. You get caught in a jam. In Ryder Cups there are so many people. With two it would be impossible. So five really gives us a luxury of covering all our bases no matter what happens.
Q. The fall events were left out of earning Ryder Cup points. A, how comfortable are you with that? B, how much will you value the success some Americans have had this fall?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was asked outside in the parking lot. Wow, you’re wearing a lot of hats this week. And shirts. I had to change shirts because of a different logo. It’s tough for me to answer that question at the RSM Classic.
As a group, that was the decision that was made. Yes, that’s what I said. We didn’t take minutes luckily, but I think I said that after a lot of discussion. I said I can always consider — the guys when they play, I can always give them credit for it.
But, yes, Justin Thomas winning in Malaysia was noticed obviously. Got him an extra pillow on his bed this week. So I will take notice of how guys are playing obviously.
It’s a year and a half of work for them, and we’ll take that all into account. Obviously we all totally agree that the last six months is the most important. That’s what we’re going to be looking for.
When we were looking at guys to pick, when I’ve been involved in ’10 and ’12 and some Presidents Cups, we were looking at the guy that was hot at that time. If you say, Hey this guy missed by four points but won Malaysia, yeah, take that into consideration. Is he hot right now? Is he playing well today is the more important answer.
I think that’s why we ended up coming up with that. Now, in a perfect world I could make it, I would probably make all the points closer to the — I wouldn’t even count much this year.
Sure Jordan Spieth had an incredible year. He piled up enough points that he’s probably on the team. We’ll have to take that into consideration come summer. He got a bunch of points, but they were last year. How is he playing right now is what I want to know.
Q. Compared to last time at Medinah, feels like more of a captain by committee. Would you agree with that?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think we — in ’12 we were using all the information we could, but we didn’t have — I didn’t have a good enough structure of how I funneled that information to me.
You can ask any these four assistant captains what’s the No. 1 piece of advice they’ve given me so far: You’re the captain; you make the decision. Tom Lehman, if he said it once he said it 15 times. Tiger has said it.
But I’m calling and asking for advice. With texting it’s a little bit easier. You like red shirts? Everybody gives an answer. I can make a decision. Little things it’s easy. Big things I have to bounce back and forth.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t use these guys’ advice. That’s what I’m looking for this time. Look, I’ll make the decision. Phil has really been adamant about step up and make some speeches. Step up and push these guys a little bit.
But it’s not a committee. It’s a game plan. I’ve been looking a lot out of these discussions, what’s Larry Fedora doing at North Carolina? What’s the difference? He isn’t coaching every player all day every day by himself. He’s got a bunch of really good coaches that are coaching players and defense and offense.
That’s what I think we’ve put together. Some guys throw out some pretty weird ideas in this group. I have to go, Okay, that’s a great idea, but we’re not going to do that. So I ultimately make the decisions, but I have the PGA of America, staff, and directors to help me.
Then all these great players, so I’m getting a lot more help. We’re not going to vote on it and do whatever the vote comes out. We’re going to do whatever I think is best for this team to be prepared.
Q. How much of this stuff may be is from the Tasks Force did you get from — I don’t want to say from spying, but reconnoiter what the European Ryder Cup team has done for years, and how much information could you get and how much did you borrow to put this together?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think the PGA of America came back from the last couple Ryder Cups and said, Hey, wait a minute. They have a system obviously. They’re doing something different. Let’s put together a group of guys and talk about it.
So I give them all the credit for figuring out that we needed a new game plan. Since then, yes. Paul McGinley has been very open with a lot of his planning and what he’s done. I’m starting to look back now and say, Now I know what Darren Clarke said that in 2010.
He knew what was going on. He could see farther into the future. Corey and I had a great conversation at the Sony Open in 2010. We had a great conversation about the next year and a half to two years of the Ryder Cup.
Everything he said came true. Now we’re looking farther out than that, farther down the road than that. I think learning from what Team Europe has been doing has been very beneficial to us.
You know, again, North Carolina is probably looking at what Clemson is doing right now, so I think it’s smart to see what the other side is doing and form a game plan to come out on top.
Q. The schedule is crowded this summer. Does doing whatever it takes involve any pre Ryder Cup visits to Hazeltine and putting more emphasis on guys getting to Hazeltine before the week?
DAVIS LOVE III: Right. I think we all got excited in the beginning and said, We’re going to play a ton of practice rounds and we’re all going to be there and we’ll buy a house and live on the golf course.
Now we’ve whittled it down to, All right, what’s the — I asked Phil, Tiger, all the other guys, If you don’t know the golf course, how many times do you need to go and play? What do you need to go and do? Everybody had a slightly different answer on how they would spend their day there.
Obviously Tiger went at it one way and Jordan another. But they all want to go. They’re all going to do their thing. What we’ve arranged with a lot of help from the PGA of America is we’ll do whatever it takes to get them there.
And we did it. We went it Medinah and did a lot of practicing there. We’re just going to make it available to guys and not say, Everybody has to play three practice rounds. No. How do you prepare for a major? How can we get you there?
So if it’s two or three guys going together or one guy wants the whole golf course to himself, nobody talk to me, that’s what we’re going to do.
Just the planning ahead so when it comes to the summertime when the course gets ready to go again, we’re going to get guys in there.
I think Jordan Spieth going and playing makes a statement to guys trying to make the team. Hey, he’s there. I’m going to go get ready. I remember Dave Stockton sending me to play practice rounds at Kiawa, and I didn’t get picked. I felt like I was part of the team. I felt like that was my initiation into the Ryder Cup.
Hey, he thinks he might pick me and told me to go practice just in case. That fired me up. So I’m going to do that to somebody. You know, I’m going to send them and say, Go play. If a guy doesn’t make it down the road, hopefully he thanks me for it. I think those kind of things are what’s come out of this. We just need to give the guys — Paul Azinger said it over and over: Got to give them the best opportunity we can to win. No stone unturned.
Tony Jacklin said that to me the other day. You can’t play for them. Once you turn them loose on Friday morning, nothing you can do about it. Leave no stone unturned; get them prepared. Phil is not going to leave a stone unturned to get ready for this year’s Masters, is he? Not going to do it.
If we make it available for him to be ready for Hazeltine, he will take advantage of it and go do it.
Q. Following up, for clarity, whose idea was it for the fifth vice captain? From the European side? Associated with that, could you give us a glimpse into your communications with Darren and that side of the pond?
DAVIS LOVE III: It came from there being a lot of extra guys I think at some of the Ryder Cups that I’ve been involved with. A lot of extra carts would show up. You know, not trying to be tattle telling on each other, but there was a lot of back and forth. Who is that guy? Why does he have a radio? Captain’s agreement gets longer and longer. If you want to have five guys, let’s just agree on five guys and move on.
I think that’s what’s great about, one, the whole Ryder Cup atmosphere between Ryder Cup Europe and USA, and what’s so great about working with Darren. We’re talking at the Feherty show during the commercial break. What do you think about this, that?
We’re are going to be agreeable and work together to make this a great Ryder Cup and not against each other. That was more Carey Hague putting together the captain’s agreement and seeing what’s happened over the last three or four Ryder Cups that everybody has a bunch of people around.
Let’s just define it so we don’t have to worry about it when we get there. Bring in a guy last minute to equal things out.
Q. Whose suggestion was it? Yours or theirs?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I can go back as far as 2010 just us discussing it. How many do they have versus how many do we have? I remember counting carts at Wales. Yeah, where they getting all these carts?
Hey, we’re a bunch of kids playing a game. They have more footballs than us. That’s not fair. We’re defining the role. Like I said, I remember when Tom Watson brought Stan Thursk and created kind of the assistant captain role. It’s really changed over the years. I think we just defined it is all we did.
Darren and I are both very happy. It’s one more ear to bend in the team room and one more guy to get out there and get the work done for us.
Q. The framework or the guideline on the vice captains as a past captain or potential future captains. As you search for a fifth, where does that leave Fred Couples?
DAVIS LOVE III: Leaves him certainly on the list. He did a great job in Korea for Jay. They’re 4-0, I guess. He’s definitely on our list. He’s incredibly respected by the players. I think that that’s why we’re leaving one open. We got a bunch of guys, past captains of the Ryder Cup, as we said, future captains of Ryder Cup.
We’re going to leave that open for down the road. Adding a fifth guy gives us a lot of flexibility, and we like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us today.
Q. 2018 Ryder Cup in France, thoughts on that?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, we’re excited about going to France after Hazeltine. Just wanted to let the Ryder Cup Europe and all of Europe and France especially know that we’re going to keep them in our thoughts and prayers going forward.
We look forward to traveling there in 2018. We’re excited about the venue. Look forward to it. We’ll continue to pray for them.
I also appreciate everybody’s thoughts and prayers for my mom. Thank you all for coming. Look forward to getting back to playing some golf this week.