Love calls US team ‘best maybe ever as­sem­bled’ in Ry­der Cup

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

U.S. cap­tain Davis Love III re­ferred to his Ry­der Cup team as "the best golf team maybe ever as­sem­bled," a sur­pris­ing com­ment for two rea­sons.

This was Davis Love, not ex­actly known for his brash com­ments.

And the U.S. team isn't even as­sem­bled yet.

Two days be­fore Love makes his fi­nal cap­tain's pick, and a week be­fore the Ry­der Cup be­gins at Hazel­tine, Love was on Sir­iusXM's "Fair­ways of Life" show on Fri­day and asked whether the Amer­i­cans have tried too hard.

He said they tend to panic after a bad round or lose mo­men­tum and are guilty at times of play­ing not to lose.

"You need to stand up there and smash it down the mid­dle and take off walk­ing and let the other team know, 'We are go­ing to dom­i­nate you,'" Love said.

It's all about in­still­ing con­fi­dence in the U.S. team, be­liev­ing it has the bet­ter squad. Love noted the Amer­i­cans don't have to do anything "su­per hu­man." And then he fin­ished his thought with words sure to cross the At­lantic.

"We're a great golf team," he said. "This is the best golf team maybe ever as­sem­bled."

And just like that, Love put him­self in the com­pany of other cap­tains mak­ing bold com­ments. All but one back­fired. The Amer­i­cans had won 11 of 12 times in the Ry­der Cup when the matches were played in 1967 at Cham­pi­ons Golf Club in Hous­ton, with the great Ben Ho­gan as the cap­tain. The op­pos­ing cap­tain Dai Rees gave lengthy in­tro­duc­tions at the pre-tour­na­ment din­ner to the Great Bri­tain & Ire­land squad be­fore tak­ing his seat.

Ho­gan asked that ap­plause be held un­til he was fin­ished.

Play­ers stood as Ho­gan called their name, and he said, "Ladies and gen­tle­man, the U.S. Ry­der Cup team — the finest golfers in the world." And he sat down. GB&I was no match for the Amer­i­cans in those days, and it showed. Arnold Palmer and Gard­ner Dickinson won all five matches in a 23 ½-8 ½ vic­tory.

The Amer­i­cans had lost two straight Ry­der Cups when Ray­mond Floyd took over as cap­tain in 1989 at The Bel­fry and sum­moned his in­ner Ho­gan. At the gala ball that week, Floyd in­tro­duced his team as "the 12 great­est play­ers in the world."

Europe built a 5-3 lead after the open­ing day, kept a two-point mar­gin go­ing into sin­gles and the Ry­der Cup ended in a draw, which ef­fec­tively was another vic­tory for Europe be­cause it re­tained the cup.

They had a bet­ter-ball score of 61, which might have been re­ally special if Woods and Mick­el­son had made it to the 18th hole. In­stead, Colin Mont­gomerie and Padraig Har­ring­ton beat them on the 17th, and then Dar­ren Clarke and Lee West­wood beat the notso-dy­namic duo in four­somes that af­ter­noon.

Bravado is not part of Love's per­son­al­ity. He sounded as though he was re­mind­ing his team how good they are — more cheer­leader than field gen­eral.

Words are words, how­ever, and they elicited a quick re­sponse.

West­wood tweeted a link to the com­ments and said, "No pres­sure there then lads."

Five of the Amer­i­cans on the team haven't won this year. Only five of them have ever won a ma­jor.

Floyd didn't have the great­est 12 play­ers in the world, but they were pretty close: Cur­tis Strange, Tom Kite, Fred Cou­ples, Paul Azinger, Mark Cal­cavec­chia, Tom Watson, Lanny Wad­kins, Mark O'Meara and Payne Ste­wart played that year. All won ma­jors. Seven are in the Hall of Fame.

But the great­est team is con­sid­ered to be in 1981 at Wal­ton Heath: Jack Nick­laus, Watson, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Hale Ir­win, Floyd, Kite, Ben Cren­shaw, Larry Nel­son, Jerry Pate, Bill Rogers all were or be­came ma­jor cham­pi­ons.

USA Ry­der Cup coach Davis Love III

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