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September 27, 2016

Davis Love III

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 41st Ryder Cup. Very pleased to be joined by Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III.

Davis, welcome. I would love to ask you about last night, first time having the team together in one room. What stood out about the evening and if you could share a bit about that with us.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, everybody got in by like 3:00 or 3:30, got organized, did all our clothes fittings and structure, getting organized things, and that was fun, breaking in a few new guys to the system.

Obviously with five great assistant captains, we got everything going pretty quickly and some great gifts from The PGA of America to kick the night off.

We had a very exciting talk from Michael Phelps, who is out there getting ready to tee off. I'm hoping to get out there to watch him hit on the first hole. Michael talked to us a lot about the Olympic experience and Team USA and how much fun it was for him to have the four American golfers down there because he's such a big golf fan.

Got off to a great start with Michael and our gifts, and then had a great dinner. I told the guys a few things at dinner and said, you guys can do whatever you want when we get back, and the next thing you know, we had the whole team in our dining room sitting around listening to Phil and Tiger and Brandt and Jim Furyk tell stories.

So it was a really fun first night. I thought we got off to a great start. We said, this is what the Ryder Cup is all about. We don't get to do this that much, hang out together and talk and go to dinner all as one big group. So it was a great big kickoff.

JOHN DEVER: You arranged for some matches amongst your team today. Maybe you could talk a little bit about some of your pairings and such.

DAVIS LOVE III: We had groups of guys that we've kind of been looking at for awhile just to get out and practice in, and we'll probably mix it up tomorrow. But this was guys that get along well and have played a lot together and obviously spend a lot of time together. So we just felt like the first day, especially on a windy, cold day, just let everybody get out there and have some fun and play golf.

There might be a few matches going out there amongst themselves. There was some ball-throwing-up on the first tee. They are out there having fun. I'm starting to hear they are getting wind blown and cold and it's taking a bit longer to play than they thought, so I don't know how many guys will actually play 18.

But we're seeing the same thing that Darren and I talked about when he first got here. It's going to blow for a few days and the wind is going to turn around a different direction. I have a feeling both sides might take it easy this afternoon and not play every hole.

Q. With the flags at half-staff and Arnold Palmer on the pairing sheet for the day, how present will his memory be the next five or six days here?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it says it all when the Palmer family decides to wait until Tuesday for the service. Obviously they are saying that's what Arnold would have wanted, for the matches to go on. But that means until Tuesday, we'll be thinking about the family and what's upcoming for the world of golf.

But you know, as I said, we had some pictures of Arnold, he's obviously a captain and great player for our team. But all of a sudden last night, a couple more big pictures popped up.

I'm sure Darren's team is feeling the same way. We're still dealing with it, like the golf world. You watch the Golf Channel, it's the Arnold Palmer all day long celebration, as it should be.

We are all playing with heavy hearts. I've got to rewrite a speech, still, because I've got to change the tone, and add Arnold in there obviously. I saw Darren's and, you know, we're planning cars and flights to a funeral that we don't really want to go to.

It will always be in the front of our minds, the back of our minds, but the guys are still out there working hard, preparing, getting ready to play.

Q. Your comments last week about potentially the best team ever assembled raised some eyebrows. What went into saying that, kind of a bold statement, and was there any concern about kind of adding a little motivation to the European Team room, because there's been some back and forth since then regarding that.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, it raised some eyebrows around our team, too, because if you listen to the interview, or it wasn't really an interview, it was a send-off that Matt Adams does for the American Captain, a very nice guy from Canada called in and said, I'm supporting the U.S. Team, I just think they need a little bit more swagger when they go out and play. And I said, I agree with you, we've got to get these guys going.

And I told a story that Tom Kite always told me, just out-drive them and walk faster than them, get to your ball first and dominate. Every time you get 2-up, you know what's better than 2-up?

I said, No, what?

He goes, 3-up.

He was trying to give me an attitude of, you're better than them, let's out-play them. Let's show them that you're better.

Then Matt Adams was asking me, What are you going to tell your team?

And I said, I would tell my team they're the best team ever assembled. Let's go out and show off and play and have fun.

That's what Nick Saban would tell his team when they're getting ready to go play Ole Miss. He wouldn't say, You guys have done a pretty good job this week, and you're a pretty average team, let's go out there and just give it a good shot. No, he's going to say, You guys have worked hard, you're the best team I've ever seen, let's go crush these guys.

So the question wasn't, how do you rank this team in history. It was, what are you going to tell your team to fire them up. So I would still tell them the same thing, you're a great team, let's go out there and have some fun, play your game, don't get in your own way.

I think we try to be -- especially like our top players, five or six guys, whether it's Davis Love and Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard in '97; we try too hard to be better than we are or to do something extraordinary, and I think we get in our own way doing that sometimes. And we just need to understand that we're a really good golf team, they are a really good golf team. If we just go play our game, the results will take care of themselves.

It's just unfortunate that, you know, in that nice conversation, that it got misconstrued. Obviously that comment and to the other extreme, the comment about The European Team, is not what this is all about. So Darren and I have already talked about both of those things, and that's just part of The Ryder Cup. And our team's happy, their team's happy. We're out there working hard and moving on.

Q. In this European run, Europe's had several players kind of raise their level of play at this event, while the U.S., it's been a lot of years since the U.S. has really had a great Ryder Cup player. Why is that? And as you look at your team, who might be the best candidate to kind of step up and be that great Ryder Cupper?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think we've got 12 guys that we're expecting a lot of them to step up.

You know, it seems like the rookies, the young guys on both sides seem to always step up. So obviously Brooks and Ryan are our rookies, and Darren has a bunch more of them. But we've got some guys that have played one or two that haven't won and have a little bit of experience, but they are ready for a win.

So that's what I'm trying to tell our team, is we are really good. We have got a lot of experience, a lot of guys that have played Ryder Cups. If we just go out and play like our World Rankings, just go out and play golf; and I said it a bunch.

The last nine holes of the PGA Championship are just another nine holes of golf. But when you're trying to win the PGA Championship, it gets a little bit different. Same thing in The Ryder Cup, except it starts Friday morning. You know every point is important. You lose the momentum. You start trying too hard, and the enormity of the moment gets to you.

So we've just got to stick with our game plan. We've got a good plan. We are all going to go out there and do a good job, what our captain's asked us to do and play hard and have fun. The results will take care of themselves, I think.

Q. Just to clarify your comments about the American team, you are going to tell them on Friday morning they are the greatest team of all time?
DAVIS LOVE III: I don't think I'm going to tell you what I'm going to tell them, but if I was a football coach or a motivational coach, I'd tell my team that they are very, very good and to go play their best.

But bottom line is, we've got eight guys on points that were playing the best on our tour and we picked the four best players we thought fit our team and I love this team. We're all happy with our 12 and we're excited to go.

Q. From the last day of the 2014 Ryder Cup to even the last day of THE TOUR Championship, Phil has been pretty vocal about what he thinks needs to be done. What effect do you think that will have on him this week, the results this week? Do you think that in some ways there will be a referendum on Phil?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think Brandt summed it up. It was just Phil being Phil. Now we have Bubba being Bubba. We have a lot of fun guys on our team.

You know, Phil and I had a very frank conversation last night at dinner and we had a very frank conversation in the lineup to get our pictures made this morning. Phil is a big part of the leadership of this team, and you can see it on and off the golf course.

But last night, Phil was in a chair and Tiger was standing behind him and Brandt was sitting in a chair across and it was just nonstop Ryder Cup stories; Tiger hit the ball here and Phil hit the ball there. Our team room is all together. We are behind Phil just as much as we are behind any guy on the team.

You know, I think 22 straight teams; he's our leader, for sure.

Q. You said that you had a plan, just earlier in answering the other question; how different is that plan at least for the first two days of The Ryder Cup than it was in 2012?
DAVIS LOVE III: Not much different. Obviously we've got a different team, and that's what I keep telling this team. You know, don't look to the past. This team's never played together before. This team has no history. They are a great team and we're going to do -- obviously have different pairings because we have different players.

You know, same plan. We want these guys to know what they are doing when they go out there to practice. We want them to have a purpose. And like Coach Belichick says, Do your job, stay in your lane and the other guy next to you can be more aggressive. That's pretty simple, if you take care of your partner and take care of your teammates, the results will take care of themselves.

So not a whole lot of difference the first two days. I think our overall plan and preparation, our overall plan for the week, is certainly a little more defined than it was in 2012.

But got 12 great players. The hard thing is sitting four of them out every session is the only struggle we're having because everybody is playing so well.

Q. Can you just talk about what Ryan Moore has been like these last 24 hours or so? I'm sure he was disappointed to come up short at East Lake, but this had to be the greatest consolation in the world to him.
DAVIS LOVE III: Ah, Sleepy? He told me, I was asking him if he wanted to come up here and play a practice round before he went to THE TOUR Championship, and he said, "I think the only way I can make your team is to have a great TOUR Championship, and I need to rest and go to Atlanta and practice if I'm going to have any shot at it." I agreed with him.

Same thing with Patrick Reed, who had been on the road for eight or nine weeks. Rickie had played a bunch. We had guys that were pretty beat down. So it was a tough schedule for us. I didn't blame him for not coming up here. Obviously it worked out perfectly.

Each of these guys has a plan. Jordan's plan is obviously different from Patrick's plan. Patrick plays a lot more. Ryan has had a whirlwind. Met him in the hall last night at 4:00, and we're just guiding him to where he's supposed to be and what he's supposed to be do next, breaking him in. But you guys have watched him for a long, long time. He's an easygoing, very friendly, easy to get along with guy.

Obviously last night in the team room, Ryan Moore and Steve Stricker weren't saying a whole lot. It was mostly Phil. And you know, that's the way it should be, and they will both have their team to speak up.

But Ryan's having a great time. He's out there hitting it great, just like he did at TOUR Championship, and guys are excited to have him on the team.

Q. Along Ryan Moore, the same idea, Phil mentioned a few weeks ago that he felt like the pairings were not set, but they were close. The addition of Ryan Moore to the scene, has that changed at all how you planned to pair guys?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, we obviously had a group of guys that we were plugging in and out of the lineups, and that's what Phil was saying when we were finally going to get to go play golf today. We were down there taking our pictures, and he goes, "You got it, let's just go play."

He didn't want me to be second guessing even before we went and teed off in the practice round. You know, Phil's had a big influence in pairings, really, the last few Ryder Cups. He obviously has a lot of experience.

But Phil, you know Phil. He remembers everything. I can go and ask him and say, Hey, what did happen back in 1999? What order did we go off in? And Phil or Tiger will remember for me, you know. That's the great thing about having them around.

So Phil always has a theory. He had a theory about the debate last night, you know, and he'll have a theory about who is going to win the games on Saturday. But I used to say he was 50/50 and then I gave him 75 percent and I'm moving him up to maybe 80 percent. I like the way he thinks and I like his planning.

Obviously Tiger and Phil have had a huge amount of success for a reason, because they know what they are doing. It's nice to, one, get the confirmation, but also get the help from Phil that we are on the right track.

Q. I don't know if I have to tell you this, but you're well aware that the U.S. struggled last time in 2014 in the foursomes. What's your thinking behind starting with that session on Friday?
DAVIS LOVE III: It's really logistics, and it just plays so much faster, gets us done before lunch.

But we feel like it's a great format for us. I don't know what the actual numbers are overall, but we like that format. We like the teams we have in that format.

Like I said, this team didn't play in 2014. This team's never played together before. So we're really not looking at what they have done in the past. We might have a couple pairings in there that have played before, but this team of 12, we've got some new guys, guys that have played Ryder Cups before, but like J.B., who haven't played with these guys.

We're just looking to the future right now and not looking at the past. A lot of the stats that I get, I just throw them out because we've kind of got a good, fresh attitude right now.

Q. You were appointed as the captain of the U.S. Team in 2012. What have you personally experienced as the group leader and as an individual player?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think in 2012, I was new to the job. It was my first time and everything was fresh and new.

This time, kind of know the system. Done it once before, but it's a little different this time. I think we have a fresher attitude and I've got a better support team around me.

Obviously have had Tiger and Steve and Jim and Tom for over a year as my assistant captains and we've been working real hard on a game plan and preparation. I think we are just a little bit more prepared this time than we were in 2012, and we've all got a lot more miles under our belt and can handle really any situation than probably we could in 2012.

If we get four ahead or two behind or whatever, we've got it a little more figured out, I think, than we did in 2012.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about Tiger's and Phil's relationship and how that's evolved over the years? They have been seen as rivals and now they are working together for this effort, and how might that influence the younger players like Jordan Spieth as they sort of take over the realm of The Ryder Cup in future years?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think we all come into Ryder Cups as individuals the first year and we want to play five matches and we want to know when we are going to get the ball. And once you play it, you figure out, wait a minute, this is all about team.

I think Phil figured it out; Tiger figured it out. They became team leaders. I'll never forget Jack Nicklaus saying Phil was his MVP one year and he got zero points in The Presidents Cup, and Phil was a team leader and he figured out how to support his teammates and make his team better. That's what Tiger has figured out, what Phil has figured out, and certainly Zach Johnson has figured it out in a lot of Ryder Cups.

And we will have some young guys wondering what it's all about, but those guys are going to teach them. And I think Jordan figured it out very quickly. He wants the ball; obviously he wants to go play, but he also wants -- we all know that a team win takes precedent over individual needs or goals. Tiger and Phil are leaders in that.

Certainly this process over the last year has prepared all of us, me this year, whoever the next captains are of the next few Ryder Cups, it's prepared us all better for being leaders and captains. But again, it didn't take them a day, you know, for Tiger and Phil to take over in the team room to be telling the stories.

My son and I were sitting all the way in the back behind Ryan Moore and Brooks Koepka and just listening and that's what it's all about. Those guys, we need to do the work behind the scenes to get them prepared. Those guys need to take leadership and go play, and Tiger and Phil are great at it.

Bubba Watson walked right in, got his clothes, went down to the team room and started telling guys to sign autograph items. Our guys are all pulling together, having fun, seeing their role. Bubba thinks his role is to go on the first tee and whoop up the crowd. He already did that this morning.

As I said, Bubba's entertainment and Tiger and Phil are our leaders, and we've got a great group. It's going to be a heck of a lot fun for us this week. You know, as I said, we're just going to go do our best and do our job and play to have fun and not worry too much about the results and take what we get.

JOHN DEVER: United States Captain, Davis Love III, thank you. We'll look forward to speaking with you tomorrow.

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