Blog 320, 2/17/15 - Curiouser and Curiouser

Davis Love’s apparent re-appointment as US Ryder Cup team Captain for 2016 (to be confirmed on the 24th?) has taken a lot of people by surprise and raised a lot of questions - how long had the Task Force been considering him for a second term, did Fred Couples and Paul Azinger’s perceived apathy work against them, and has Phil Mickelson got the ‘players’ captain’ he more or less demanded?

davis love ryder cup
Davis Love is set to have another go at captaining the US Ryder Cup side. Whose idea was that?
Picture the scene. The PGA of America’s Ryder Cup Task Force, set up to identify the system and personnel that might put a stop to the flow of European victories, is in San Diego ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Co-Chair Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, calls the room to order. After a little ice-breaker “Anyone have any positive press lately?” the first topic for debate is raised – who’s going to be the next Captain of Team USA?
“Not Tom Watson,” Phil Mickelson bellows at the top of his lungs before Bevacqua has even finished asking the question.
Mickelson and Rickie Fowler bump knuckles under the table while everyone chortles, aware of Mickelson’s feelings towards the last Captain of the USA. A few seconds of silence follow before Mickelson, unable to resist the urge, pipes up again.
“Paul Azinger,” he shouts.
Likewise everyone knows how Mickelson feels about the 2008 US Ryder Cup Captain, the only American skipper to win the Cup this century. Mickelson left no one in any doubt at the Gleneagles post-match name-and-shame how much he disapproved of Watson’s style and how much he loved Azinger’s pods and the interaction between players and Captain.
It triggers a mass murmur as everyone turns to their next-door-neighbor and nods their head in approval.
Bevacqua prays silence, acknowledges Mickelson’s appeal, then reminds everyone that, with the media, Azinger has appeared a little reticent, cagey, taciturn even when discussing the possibility of being captain. He chose not to be part of the Task Force, says Bevacqua adding that Azinger wasn’t “ready to jump in” (the PGA of America’s CEO motions the inverted commas dramatically with his fingers). Indeed, on October 3rd, Azinger said on Sirius XM Radio he had no interest in being the Captain “right now, unless the necessary changes were made”.  
“So have the necessary changes been made?” demands Mickelson, clearly the loudest voice in the room.
More silence as all eyes fall on Bevacqua who mumbles, quietly, that nothing has really changed yet.
Ray Floyd looks up and suddenly seems animated. “What about Freddie Couples?” he suggests, confident he will receive a positive response as a number of top players, specifically those who have won three Presidents Cups under the Seattle native, have mentioned his name in the preceding weeks. Couples himself said that shortly after the Gleneagles debacle, most of the US Players contacted him to implore him to put his name forward.
Again, the room is enthused at the prospect of so popular a leader. “Yeah, Boom Boom,” shrieks Tiger Woods taking out his ear buds.
But, says Bevacqua, Couples said in November he was “not a PGA of America guy”, mockingly used air quotes of his own when talking about the Task Force, and said America didn’t need the PGA ‘straining on this’.
Floyd nods despondently and falls back into his chair a little deflated. Silence reigns again.
Thumbs are twiddled, the ceiling is started at, and everyone nervously feigns whistling.
Suddenly, a quiet voice breaks the quiet.
“How about me?”
Ten pairs of eyes turn at once to see who utters the words.
It’s Davis Love.
Everyone smiles, a little uneasily, but enjoys Love’s little gag.
Slowly though, they all come to realize Love isn’t joking. He’s serious. Dead serious.
“Um, er, um, er, okay Davis,” Woods stammers as he stands up and begins circling the table. “All due respect, but haven’t you had a go at this already?”
“Yes,” Love concedes. “But we very nearly won and the players liked me.”
“Sure, sure,” Woods assures him. “But I thought we agreed DL3, the whole point of this Task Force is to rock the boat, change things up a bit, create a whole new gameplan you know? If we reappoint a losing captain, one that let a 10-6 lead get away, how is that going to look? We’d be slaughtered in the press.”
A few suppressed cries of “Hear, Hear” go up, before Bevacqua brings the room to order once more.
Bevacqua ponders for a while, considering Love’s proposal. “How about it?” he says finally, looking around the room at his fellow Task Force members who immediately comprehend Love has now not only joined the running but is quickly moving to the front of the pack. “We know he has the support of the players. And after what happened in the media room at Gleneagles, isn’t appointing a man the players can trust and exchange ideas with our number one priority?”
“You bethca,” shouts Mickelson.
“Okay Phil," says Bevacqua, looking directly at the five-time major champion. "I know you wanted Azinger. But will Davis do?
“Oh yes,” says Mickelson, grinning like a Cheshire Cat and rubbing his hands together. “Davis will do just fine.”


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