Chicago has a new team to root for: The 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team

Chicago has a new team to root for: The 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team

From left to right: Dan Hampton, Ernie Banks, Davis Love III, Denis Savard, Paul Konerko and Scottie Pippen.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ted Bishop is the vice president of the PGA of America and the director of golf at the Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Ind.

On Thursday, the Medinah Country Club was covered by several inches of snow and the temperature was in the single digits, but thanks to the towering trees that line the Medinah landscape, even the untrained eye could manage to see where the fairways stake their claim. The greens were visible only because of orange snow fences that guarded their boundaries. The great club, site of so many of major championships, appeared to be hibernating.

But looks can be deceiving. Inside the spacious clubhouse, Davis Love III was being introduced by the PGA of America as the next captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, to be played in 2012 at Medinah on the outskirts of Chicago.

Chicago already has the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox and Cubs, but now there’s a new team in town with a dignified leader at its helm.

On Thursday, Chicago adopted Davis Love. The new Ryder Cup captain was honored late Thursday afternoon at a Michigan Avenue reception that featured Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub and a Hall of Famer famous for his phrase, “Let’s play two!” Or was it 36? Banks was joined by Paul Konerko, who led the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005.

Also on hand were Dan Hampton, defensive end with the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears; Denis Savard, hockey great and coach of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks; and Scottie Pippen, who was Jordan’s sidekick on those great Bulls teams. Each of these five Chicago greats presented Love with a No. 12 jersey from their respective teams. In addition, each offered some advice on how to win a championship and capture the hearts of Chicago fans.

Banks told Love, “Have fun. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t take it too seriously.”

Konerko said, “Keep your team out of downtown Chicago, and get the Europeans to enjoy the downtown!”

Savard said, “Coach your young players differently than your older stars.”

Pippen said, “I can’t forgive you for giving Michael his first set of clubs when you were both at the University of North Carolina. I will never catch up to him in golf.”

And Hampton said, “Chicago fans will support you, no matter what. But they will like you better if you win.”

The day got started when Don Larson, Medinah’s chairman of the Ryder Cup, proudly presented Davis and his wife, Robin, with an honorary membership to the storied country club. All day, Love showed why he was the easy choice for the PGA of America. He was articulate, warm, embracing and appreciative of what it means to assume this task. The son of a former PGA member, Love got emotional as he talked about his dad’s influence on his career and what it would have meant for Davis Love Jr. to see his son in this role. (The elder Love, a renowned instructor, was killed in a 1988 plane crash.)

Love spoke passionately about his relationship with Jose Maria Olazabal, who was announced as Europe’s captain earlier in the week. “Over the next couple of years it will be me against Jose in the media. Once our teams are picked, it will be about them. Jose Maria and I will be competitors on the eve of the Ryder Cup, and we will be friends on Sunday night when it is over.”

Chicago, which has a long and storied golf history that includes regular Tour stops as well as major championships, would be a great place to celebrate a Ryder Cup win.

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