Sport Golf

Monday 19 March 2018

Davis Love III poised to be named US Ryder Cup captain for 2016

USA's Tiger Woods looks at the trophy with captain Davis Love III at the Ryder Cup in Medinah in 2012
USA's Tiger Woods looks at the trophy with captain Davis Love III at the Ryder Cup in Medinah in 2012

Oliver Brown

Davis Love III is poised to be named the US Ryder Cup captain for 2016, according to reports in the US last night.

The extraordinary decision comes in spite of Love leading the team in their infamous defeat at Medinah three years ago, when the Americans let slip a 10-6 lead to lose by a single point on the most dramatic day in the competition’s history.

It represents an unfathomable move by the PGA of America, who had looked almost certain to appoint Fred Couples, overwhelmingly popular with the players after engineering three successive President’s Cup victories.

It is also a hugely unexpected outcome of the ‘taskforce’ set up in the wake of the Americans’ most recent loss at Gleneagles, where they lost their sixth Ryder Cup in the last seven.

The intention had been to listen more to the preferences of the team members, given the obvious unpopularity of Tom Watson’s captaincy.

From Rickie Fowler to Phil Mickelson, the noises from the camp were all in favour of Couples being given the role, if only because of the 1992 Masters champion’s infectiously laconic and informal demeanour.

No one expected them to alight on the name of Love, a man so intense that he broke down in tears during one Medinah press conference when he was describing Mickelson’s contribution to the team.

If any previous captain was going to be anointed again, it appeared most likely to be Paul Azinger, singled out by Mickelson for his fine leadership at Valhalla during that notorious post-Gleneagles diatribe against Watson.

Instead, the PGA of America have opted for Love, who for all his good work in Chicago in 2012 remains associated with a gut-wrenching Ryder Cup failure.

The highly-respected US analyst Tim Rosaforte announced the decision on NBC’s Golf Channel on Monday night. A spokesman for Love and the PGA of America refused to confirm or deny, saying: “We are not prepared to comment at this time.”

There are suggestions that Steve Stricker and Tom Lehman are likely to be involved as Love’s vice-captains.

Love, according to Rosaforte, was chosen after the 11-man Ryder Cup taskforce held a succession of meetings, including a four-hour session a fortnight ago in San Diego.

The memory is still fresh of how the US contrived to lose the cup after Europe tied the largest Sunday comeback, but Love is believed to retain a high level of trust among the players.

Couples was widely touted as the frontrunner for the job but he did admit last autumn that he was “not a PGA of America guy” and was not the favoured option among several past captains.

Love will join an exalted club of just eight men who have led the US side on multiple occasions, inscribing his name alongside Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Jack Burke Jnr, Walter Hagen and Sam Snead.

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