Letter to Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III: Get Fred Couples on board
Davis M. Love III
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain
Sea Island, Ga.
Would you rather have Fred play for you next September at Medinah or have him as one of your assistants? One way or the other, I'm guessing you'd like him in Chicago, where he's sort of a golfing god.
You two are, of course, good friends who have won all sorts of cups together, Ryder, Presidents and World. You also couldn't be more different, which is why I think you'd want him in the team room. I remember something you told me years ago. Fred was visiting you and Robin and the kids, who were taking golf lessons, riding lessons, tennis lessons. You were juggling snowboards and boats and Harleys. Fred took it all in and said, "You guys have way too much going on here."
You're a detail man, and Fred is a classic big-picture guy. Jay Haas, Fred's deputy last week, will never get enough credit for filling out lineup cards, organizing practice rounds and making sure the rain gear worked. You played that role as one of Corey Pavin's lieutenants at last year's Ryder Cup in Wales. You'll leave nothing to chance, and you'll do whatever you can to make sure each of your 12 players has what he needs—in the way of equipment, partners and heart-to-heart conversations—to play his best golf.
Fred's weird magic is that he's not good at any of that stuff. Whereas you thrive on intimacy and emotion and memory, Fred is completely absorbed in the moment, which simplifies the task at hand: Play your best golf. Fred could be Ron Washington to your Tony La Russa.
And then there's Fred's relationship with Tiger Woods and with Tiger's caddie, Joe LaCava, who caddied for Couples for years. I had never seen Tiger look so involved in a team competition as he was last week. I get the feeling that Tiger craves camaraderie but that it doesn't come naturally to him. It does come naturally to Fred. Fred seems to bring out some joy in Tiger, and if Tiger's on your team, you want a joyful Tiger.
I haven't mentioned all the things Fred will learn from watching you next year, but he will. He'll learn tons. Which will serve Captain Couples when he manages the club at the 2014 Ryder Cup, in Scotland. They love Fred in Scotland.