PGA of America picks Love III to lead Team USA at 20012 Ryder Cup

davis love III
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His father's association with The PGA of America made Davis Love III's appointment all the more special.
By
T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

Series:

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011 | 7:20 p.m.

On a cold and frosty morning just outside Chicago, The PGA of America officially announced on Thursday that 1997 PGA Champion Davis Love III will lead the U.S. team as captain for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

"I guess since the big secret is out, now I can tweet it," joked Love, about his not-so-secret-appointment at a press conference inside the massive, snow-covered Medinah Country Club clubhouse.

The 46-year-old Love compiled a career record of 9-12-5 in six Ryder Cup appearances as a player. He also served as an assistant captain under Corey Pavin at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales.

Love became especially emotional Thursday when talking about being a PGA Champion and now a Ryder Cup captain as the son of a prominent PGA Professional. Love's father, Davis Jr., contended in the 1964 Masters and was a nationally recognized instructor. He passed away in 1988 in a tragic plane crash and wasn't able to witness his son's outstanding career.

His father's association with The PGA of America made Love's appointment all the more special.

"I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled to represent The PGA of America," Love said. "Thrilled to represent all of the men and women PGA professionals. As we have said a lot of times, there's not a Tour player out there that plays one Tour event or plays six Ryder Cups that doesn't have a PGA professional that led them to that position. So I thank all of the PGA professionals, including my dad."

In his time on U.S. Ryder Cup teams, Love enjoyed victory on two occasions. The first came in 1993 at The Belfry, where he earned the pivotal point in a 15-13 U.S. win. The second was at Brookline in 1999, when the U.S. completed a record comeback in Sunday's singles matches, overcoming a seemingly insurmountable four-point deficit to win, 14 ½-13 1/2 .

Other appearances for Love, included the 2004 matches at Oakland Hills -- the first of two consecutive matches where the U.S. was pummeled by a record margin, 18 ½-9 ½.

Suffice it to say, Love -- now the 27th U.S. Ryder Cup captain -- has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows as a player and has pretty much been groomed for his new role.

"The first couple of Ryder Cups you're just trying to not be too nervous and trying to play," said Love, who is looking to guide the U.S. to its first victory since Valhalla in 2008 and its second straight on home soil. "And then once we did three or four of them, Robin [Love's wife] and I started taking a little more care in watching what was going on, learning how The Ryder Cup ran, and Corey Pavin did me an incredible service by, one, asking me to help him, and two, preparing me for the chance to be The Ryder Cup captain. Seeing it from the inside, watching how much hard work he put into it and his whole team, we learned a lot."

Earlier this week, Jose Maria Olazabal was appointed captain of the 2012 European team. The Spaniard and Love are no strangers to one another in the Ryder Cup.

Love teamed up with Tom Kite to defeat Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros -- the most successful European team ever -- 2-and-1 in the opening fourball matches of the 1993 event. That, however, proved to be Love's lone triumph over Olazabal, who won the four other times they played in team matches at The Belfry and at Valderrama in 1997.

"José Maria and I go way back," Love said. "We have competed against each other. We have shared a lot of trials and tribulations through our careers together. He has been a good friend for someone that plays The European Tour and that I don't see that much. He's always been respectful and supportive of my career.

"I look forward to competing against him, to us leading our teams together, because the next year and a half is really going to be about he and I sitting up here talking and until the matches start, it's going to be me against him, which it will not be in our minds, but I think in the public, it will be the two of us battling it out for the who gets the most captain's picks or who get the most radios and who sets the golf course up."

Love will be able to spend plenty of time with potential team members over the next two years. He owns a lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour thanks to his 20 career wins, which trail only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh among players from his generation.

If his 2011 debut on the PGA Tour is any indication of things to come, Love might just play his way onto his own team. Just last week he tied for ninth at the Sony Open in Hawaii with four rounds in the 60s.

While it's still terribly early, would Love consider participating in 2012 as a player if he made the team on points?

Absolutely, positively, yes.

"I've given a lot of thought to that, because I'm never going to give up my goal of making Ryder Cups, as long as I feel like I'm competitive on the Tour," he said. "I went out to Hawaii last week thinking about making points on all of the lists that I need to move up on and trying to win golf tournaments. I think between José Maria and myself, if one of us gets hot with the putter, we might make our own team.

"But what I ultimately want is the 12 best players," Love added. "And if I'm one of the best eight come the PGA Championship in 2012, then I'm going to want to play, because I don't want to leave a guy off the team that might help us win, and if that's me, great. If not, you know, I certainly would have a tough time picking myself. That wouldn't look very good."