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RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 12, 2016
Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA
JULIUS MASON: Thank you for joining us today. A little over two hours ago, Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III made three picks to fill out the majority of his team.
Davis, why don't you say hello to everybody and let them know the news that you shared with everybody a little earlier today.
DAVIS LOVE III: Hello, good afternoon. If you haven't heard the news, picked Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar. They are all very excited. Our top 11 now is set and we are all very excited. Today is almost over and it's a big day, and we can move forward and start making plans for the next two weeks, getting ready to play, and make the last pick.
JULIUS MASON: So everybody know, last pick for Captain Love will be on September 25.
Q. The U.S. played eight foursomes matches at Gleneagles and didn't come away with a full point. Can you talk about your philosophy with foursomes, do you like to pair personalities or like games, and how big that will be in the U.S. having success at Hazeltine? And secondly, if I could, just curious to know how badly Jim Furyk wants to play.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'll start there. He wants to play really badly. We were saying last night, I doubt that Al Geiberger practiced as much the week after his 59 as Jim Furyk practiced after his 58. The guy, he just won't let up. He works really hard on his game. He's always looking to improve.
So he really wants to play, just like Rickie and Matt and J.B. He's excited about the chances and then excited about next year. Obviously he didn't get a full season in, so he's looking to the future.
You know, both formats are important. Singles are important. But getting off to a good start is important. Alternate-shot is always tough, matching up golf balls, matching up personalities. Tiger keeps bringing up, yeah, what if it's cold. I've got cold weather scenarios we've to look at, so there's a lot we have to look at.
Paul Azinger has kind of set us up for a good game plan. In 2012 we did pretty well with making our pairings and having our system. Obviously we tweaked it a little bit this time. But we're really focused on that. That's why we're making these picks today and we're going to look hard at that, making our last pick, make sure that we plug guys in the right holes for both formats.
Q. The first, do you envision a scenario in which that fourth captain's pick could come from players outside of guys who are qualified for THE TOUR Championship? And the second question, unrelated, I know you've talked about it, but can you expand on the role that Tiger has had and how much of a role he's played in helping your decision making so far?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I said earlier today, that there's guys on our list that are in THE TOUR Championship and guys on our list that aren't in THE TOUR Championship. That's why we waited till the last minute, so we would have every option, catch a guy that's hot.
What was the second part of your question?
Q. If you could expand on the role that Tiger -- how much has he helped in the decisions?
DAVIS LOVE III: He's been amazingly involved. He's been very thoughtful in the way that he's handled the Tiger Woods factor of being an influence but also being a distraction.
His openness of helping us with strategy, getting into how he prepares; that he'll pick up the phone and call Phil Mickelson and work on things; that he'll call Matt Kuchar -- I gave him a list of guys to ask who they wanted to pick and who they wanted to play with. He's just been willing to do anything we ask, just like Jim and Tom and Steve.
But his role has been seems like more on strategy and more on helping us think out pairings and think out a game plan for actually playing the matches and playing the golf course.
Q. Did it come down to in your picks not picking, as they say on draft day for pro teams, best available player, but the best available player who could partner with a certain number of people on the team?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, that's exactly right. I keep saying it --
Q. It sounds different than before.
DAVIS LOVE III: I keep saying, if my team needed a quarterback and I drafted a running back, I would be in big trouble. You know, you talk to Phil, who would you like to play with; who would you like to pick. Talked to everybody on the team.
We had a great system for that in 2012 that I took a lot from Tom Kite and Lanny Wadkins, guys I played for, but also from Paul Azinger. We looked at a lot of factors making the picks, and we made sure that we fit in, not necessarily the guy with the best putting stat, or the longest driver, or the highest-ranked points. So a lot went into it, a lot of factors.
Q. So to follow up on that, then could your three picks of today and their preference for who they might like to play with, could that affect the fourth pick?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, and it already affected their picks. I didn't have to call Matt Kuchar and discuss it with him. Tiger talked to him a lot. I know who Rickie likes to play with. There's a couple guys on the team that wanted to play with Rickie.
But yes, the group of 11 and the assistant captains and I are going to start talking about pairings, practice rounds, preparation, and then who this last pick is going to be. And when we get to Sunday night, we are all going to be on the same page and excited to go for the next week.
Q. Can you count the players on one hand or can you count them on two hands?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yes.
Q. Great answer, thank you.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'm not limiting myself for sure.
JULIUS MASON: I know you were asked earlier about what was different a little bit about this go-around from the last time you were captain. You want to talk a little bit about that?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think the difference is, we have a team from the The PGA of America through The Ryder Cup Committee, the veteran players, that is designing a plan that's going to put us in the best position to win Ryder Cups, not only this year, but beyond.
I think Phil kept saying, we want to try to win the next ten Ryder Cups. That's probably unrealistic, but let's put ourselves in the best position to win as many of them as possible and if we win seven out of ten, that's pretty good odds.
I think the program, not starting from scratch every two years, running the same system over and over. You look at successful programs, whether it's North Carolina basketball or Patriots football or whatever, they run the same system; they just get new players. They are really consistent in their game plan.
But when you look at our successful players on TOUR, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and now like Jordan Spieth, they have a game plan and they just keep doing the same -- Jim Furyk. They do the same things over and over and over and over until they get good at it. That's what we need to do. We need to not be trying a new system every year.
But we had a lot of great input starting from Rickie Fowler all the way to Raymond Floyd back in 2014 of what do we need to do, what's the plan. It's not Davis Love's plan. It's not Phil Mickelson's plan. It's Team USA's plan, and it's been a lot of fun helping formulate that and helping put it in motion.
Q. I was going to ask you two parts to this, if you would indulge me. First of all, how tough and how brave a decision would it be to leave out a guy ranked seventh in the World Rankings? How difficult would that be to square with the rest of the guys?
DAVIS LOVE III: The nice thing is, we've still got that other pick hanging out there. I've had to make the tough decisions before. We've left off the No. 9 guy in points. We've sat Tiger Woods out for the first time ever.
You know, that's the captain's job is to make tough decisions. That's what I signed up for. I get to make three fun phone calls yesterday and one more fun phone call. The rest of them aren't going to be any fun. We're prepared for that. We're going to make four guys happy and eight or ten unhappy.
Q. How was Bubba? Was he understanding in that conversation?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've talked to a few guys but I haven't talked to everybody. I'm still in that process.
Q. And the second part to that, I just wondered, if it concerns you in any way, the potential awkwardness, Jim Furyk, who is so desperate to play on this team, isn't picked, and then a pick joins the group in that assistant captain's role. Are you concerned that there may be any potential awkwardness or conflict in there?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we've had a lot of awkwardness in this last year and a half. Certainly when we sat down in December of 2014, it wasn't part of my plan to be Ryder Cup Captain again. I don't think very many guys in the room thought we would be in this position a year and a half later. Certainly we never thought Tiger Woods would be an assistant captain. We thought he would be playing. That's a little awkward.
And then Jim, through this whole process, if he'd have played a full schedule, there is a very, very high percentage chance that he would have made the top eight. A great chance that he would have been in the top 13 in points probably. So he still has to be in the mix. So yes, it's been some awkward conversations with him but we told him not to put his clubs away for the off-season yet.
Q. I've heard a lot today about working on the pairings, theoretically the pairings, etc. One of the things that McGinley did that was very successful in the last Ryder Cup was actually implement some pairings, and their rookies obviously aren't as rookie as a lot of Americans might think in that they have played EurAsia and they have worked on some of their pairings. Curious during the year if you've had any of the guys play together in any of the formats together before this week?
DAVIS LOVE III: Our guys play a lot of best-ball matches in practice rounds and at home. We have a lot of guys in this 11 that have played a lot of golf together, practice rounds and fun.
We didn't play alternate-shot, certainly, until usually practice rounds either before The Ryder Cup or during The Ryder Cup is when we get into that. But we have had them paired together during the year, playing together. I asked them: Eat dinner together, hang out together, play practice rounds together. They all get along very, very well, and they are all prepared for either format.
But until we tell them over the next week, you're definitely playing with this guy in alternate-shot, they are ready to practice. Trust me, they know that one guy putts more on one nine, one guy putts more on the other, and they are thinking -- I've had them thinking for the last couple weeks about who they would match up with and how they are going to attack the course.
Q. Just given our record last time, do you think that maybe having these guys play more alternate-shot during the year would be a good idea?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't know. We seem to do pretty well in alternate-shot. We need to play more singles I think.
Q. Davis, I think you rode a motorcycle up here in Saratoga some years back in upstate New York, if I'm not mistaken. I had a couple of questions. One, what is the biggest difference for you as this whole ring swirls around you with The Ryder Cup between your first stint and the next one, and I have a question about the PGA, but maybe I can ask them separately.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, different this time, we just have a lot more support around me. Obviously getting a lot more help and advice from my assistant captains. Definitely a fresh attitude from the start of 2015 of building Team USA golf, Team Ryder Cup golf for the future. So it's been a big -- I think Rickie said it today; it just seems like a more fresh, positive attitude.
And then what was your question about the PGA?
Q. He used to help them upstate, that's Derek Sprague, and of course now he's in New Jersey. You mentioned I think briefly earlier today on the news conference with him and Pete Bevacqua, maybe the whole role of the PGA and how -- what maybe they might do. Will they bring in or suggest, say, motivational speakers or that kind of thing the week of, or is that still kind of all top secret?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, they do all the hard work so we can go play golf, is basically what it is. Pete Bevacqua and Derek Sprague and all the officers, all the staff, they set the stage for us. They do all the work. We play golf. They help us build this team and we couldn't do it without I think the 27,000 or 28,000 PGA pros around the country, which my dad was a PGA pro.
It's been a great team to be a part of for me since 1993 but this year, I think we are all on the same page and pulling together and excited about it.
Q. Was curious where you met up with Belichick, what kind of time you got with him and what did you want to pull out of that conversation?
DAVIS LOVE III: I wanted to see him in a hoodie and I didn't get to see it.
We had dinner for the top eight during the Boston week on Wednesday night. But Tuesday night, Tom Lehman and I got to go to their big opening night charity fund-raiser that the Krafts do. So we got to see Coach and I got to sit with Tom Brady at dinner, got to meet a bunch of the players. More importantly -- not more importantly, but also importantly, got to meet Mr. Kraft and spend some time with him.
And then the next night, when we took the eight players back to the stadium. Let them goof around on the field and go through their locker room. They just opened the doors to us, really. Gave us team gear, team jerseys. Everybody's jersey had a 1 on it, except for Furyk's had a 58. They let us use Coach Belichick's team room. They made videos for us to watch. Got to talk to the players, just me and the players, in Coach Belichick's film room, which they said has never happened before. So the Ryder Cup players got an experience, really, that nobody has ever gotten before. To spend time with Bob Kraft, have Mike Eruzione there to talk about the '80 hockey team. It was just an incredible night.
And Tom and I got to talk to Coach a couple times and get some input from him. I know Bob Rotella has been helping me with so many ideas from the coaches he works with. But when Belichick says, you've just got to get everybody to just do their job, don't listen to the noise, it really resonates with everything I've been hearing; that our players are really, really good. If we just do our job and don't listen to the outside comments and noise and grind it out, we can get a win.
It was just great to be -- they treat their football team like a family, and they all support each other so much. I think it was a great lesson for me and a great inspiration for the team.
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for spending some time with us today and we hope to get to see all of you up at Hazeltine National for the 41st edition of The Ryder Cup. Look forward to seeing you soon.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports