Davis Love III knows that an ill-mannered Ryder Cup is no Ryder Cup at all

Davis Love III, Ryder Cup 2012
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Davis Love III announced his four captain's picks on September 4 in New York City.

Dear Cameron:

Maybe I've been listening to too many convention speeches, but your recent analysis of the leadership shown by the U.S. Ryder Cup captain makes me want to say this: I know Davis M. Love 3d. Davis M. Love 3d is a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Davis M. Love 3d.

Oh, I'm feeling better already.

(Disclosure alert: I did the typing on Davis's book "Every Shot I Take," 15 years ago.)

In actual fact, there's one overarching and truly unreasonable sentiment in your piece. You want Davis to be somebody he is not. The PGA of America hired Davis -- not that you get a penny for the job, because you don't -- to be the Ryder Cup captain for two reasons: they think he can lead a team that will win the Cup and they think he will represent the PGA the way they want it to be represented.

On the first question, we'll know how he did when the shouting's over and the dust settles and one team or the other is hoisting the trophy. My feeling is he's doing everything right to make the team feel like a team. Phone calls, texts, driving-range conversations, a dinner at Kiawah. Every captain has his own style. Hal Sutton was imperial. Jack Nicklaus was super laid-back. Paul Azinger took cues from the U.S. military. Davis, in his social life, his family life and his athletic life, is a consensus-builder. There are a lot of great managers, in different walks of life, who come out of that tradition. Joe Torre. Warren Buffett. Ben Crenshaw, as the '99 Ryder Cup captain, a team on which Davis played. Davis's feeling is that a happy team will play better than a stewing one. To me, that makes sense.

Making his four captain's picks was surely agonizing for him, but his choices I think were really solid: Jim Furyk, who will likely only play three times, but will come to play in each of those sessions; Steve Stricker, who will likely play with Tiger four times and has proven himself to be a crucial part of that formidable team; Brandt Snedeker, who has a great disposition and the ability to keep his putting stroke on line under pressure; and Dustin Johnson, who has more pure jock in him than pretty much anybody in the game today. His picks made the team -- the TEAM -- better. They have to be looked at collectively.

I know, Cam, that you are all worked up about Davis's assistant captain picks. I am confused by this. Mike Hulbert is one of Davis's closest friends, someone he can be really open with. In other words, he'll help Davis be a better captain. Good pick. Scott Verplank has the public rah-rah in him that Davis does not. Makes the team better. Jeff Sluman has been the surrogate Presidents Cup captain under Jack Nicklaus and can think his way around a lineup card as well as anybody. Fred's Fred. People like being in Fred's company.

As for Michael Jordan and whatever role he might play: Michael Jordan is an athletic icon, a Chicago icon and an inspiration to thousands of elite athletes. Davis has known him for nearly 30 years. Jordan can only help the team be better.

Then there's the whole Part II of why Davis was selected, which you, Cam, seem to undervalue: he represents the PGA, and golf itself, in exactly the right way. And this can be summarized in a sentence: Davis believes that golf without good manners is not golf at all. An ill-mannered Ryder Cup violates the spirit of the Ryder Cup. You talk about the Ryder Cup like it's the Super Bowl of golf. It's really not, or shouldn't be. It's the Olympics of golf. The Super Bowl is all about winning. The Olympics is about winning and the world coming together through sport for a fortnight or so. Davis will never lose site of the fact that that spirit must pervade. Others may laugh at that notion or dismiss it. I feel bad for those people.

In conclusion, Cameron, let me say this: you are woefully uninformed about what Davis has already done as Ryder Cup captain, ridiculously misguided in your understanding of what it means to be Ryder Cup captain, hilariously juvenile in your grasp of what the Ryder Cup is really all about. But you're young.

Wanna go to OPH (Original Pancake House) that week? Best breakfast in Chicago.

Sincerely yours,
Michael

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