'12 Ryder Cup already high on many players' minds, says Captain Love

davis love III
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Davis Love III has played so well this year that he might be able to qualify for his own Ryder Cup team next summer.
By
T.J. Auclair and Pete Iacobelli

Series: Ryder Cup

Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 | 6:05 p.m.

Davis Love III can’t have a conversation these days without talk turning to the Ryder Cup.

Love is the American captain, who a year from now, will be charged with picking the final four spots for the U.S. team that will try and win back the trophy from the Europeans. The Ryder Cup was definitely been a hot topic at the Atlanta Athletic Club, where Love is teeing off in the PGA Championship on Thursday.

RYDER CUP

In 2011, U.S. Ryder Cup points were awarded only for finishes in the four majors. Weekly points accumulation will commence in 2012.

Player

Points

1. Keegan Bradley

1,445.000

2. Jason Dufner

865.000

3. Phil Mickelson

847.143

4. Dustin Johnson

802.992

5. Steve Stricker

541.075

6. Ryan Palmer

441.590

7. David Toms

401.400

8. Bo Van Pelt

390.088

9. Robert Garrigus

379.991

10. Kevin Chappell

364.241

11. Rickie Fowler

347.405

12. Davis Love III

346.166

Love said he chatted with Tiger Woods last week and, sure enough, the Ryder Cup came up. Same thing with Scott Verplank. Love said that’s way it has been when he crosses paths with players he hasn’t seen in a while.

Love gave few clues about the makeup of the American team, saying too much can happen between now and when he has to make his four captain’s selections for the 12-man squad following the 2012 PGA Championship next August at Kiawah Island.

“It might be Scott Stallings and Gary Woodland and all those guys might’ve knocked my (Jim) Furyks and my Stewart Cinks out,” Love said. “You don’t know where we’re going to be.”

Love just hopes he’s in the mix then, too. Love he was eighth in U.S. Ryder Cup points entering the PGA Championship but dropped to 12th by tying for 72nd in Atlanta.

New PGA Champion Keegan Bradley leads the standings, with runner-up Justin Dufner second and Phil Mickelson in third. Also very much in the mix at this point are several Americans unaccustomed to Ryder Cup play like Bo Van Pelt, Kevin Chappell, Robert Garrigus and Ryan Palmer, all who’d make their first team appearances if things ended now.

Love thinks next season will be a major chase to the finish line for several young golfers eager to play for their country. “It’s going to be pretty volatile I think because there’s so many guys,” he said. “We have so many good young guys that will be bouncing around the points list.”

Love’s appearance at the PGA Championship was his 25th in a row, highlighted of course by his memorable 1997 victory at Winged Foot. And based on his recent play, there’s a good chance he could again contend for a Ryder Cup spot, seeing as how he tied for 11th at the U.S. Open in June and tied for ninth in the British Open.

“I had a couple good majors, and I hit the ball real well, really since Memorial,” he said. “So, I’m excited about the way I'm playing.”

The Ryder Cup won’t take place until next September at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, but it’s sure been keeping Love quite busy this year. That’s something he didn’t anticipate.

“It's just constant, but it's fun stuff,” he said. “It's exciting to say, all right, what color is the bag going to be, and then what color are the head covers going to be, and well, the rain suits better match the bag. It's fun. A lot goes into it. It's a lot bigger tournament than I ever thought it was. There's a lot that goes into it.”

Since being named Ryder Cup captain on a frigid, snow-covered day last January, Love has made it clear that he would be delighted to qualify for his own team. While there’s still a long way to go, so far so good.

That’s surprised some, who wonder why Love wouldn’t just coast, seeing as he’s the captain. Love, however, is surprised that anyone would think that.

"I don't coast," he said. “I'm trying to make Freddie's team [Fred Couples’ 2011 Presidents Cup team] … When I decide it's time to coast, I should probably quit.”

And as far as making his own Ryder Cup team? Well, that’s an itch Love’s going to work hard to scratch. Up until missing out on the 2006 Ryder Cup, Love had played on 12 consecutive U.S. teams -- six apiece between the Ryder and President Cups. Ever since, he’s been frustrated.

“I want to make another team,” he said. “I want to make another Ryder Cup team. And if it's not this one, I'm going to try just as hard for the next one. You know, I'm hitting the ball well enough to play on the team. I've just got a short game, just like everybody else … there's a lot of guys that can say that. I'm playing really good, I just need to make a couple more putts.”