U.S. captain spreading the Love

U.S. team captain Davis Love III (C) talks with golfing coach Butch Harmon (L) next to Tiger Woods...

U.S. team captain Davis Love III (C) talks with golfing coach Butch Harmon (L) next to Tiger Woods on the ninth green during a practice round at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 26, 2012. (REUTERS)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

Davis Love III is a player's captain.

It's clear in the lead-up to the Ryder Cup at Medinah, that he loves his team -- on paper, on the course, rookie or veteran.

The American captain seems bent on ensuring his players will have fun this weekend, letting the result come as a result of the camaraderie some have said the Europeans have better utilized in the past (a notion Phil Mickelson called a "misperception").

It already has been an enjoyable experience for Love and his players and the emotions were evident in the captain's news conference Wednesday at Medinah, when he spoke about his team.

Asked if he was worried about how tough it would be for his team to get points against world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Love responded with a quote about teamwork.

"I love my team, and it's more like trying to figure out how we're going to play together and not really (what the Europeans do)," Love said. "Ollie (European captain Jose Maria Olazabal) is going to put them out and I can't really guess how he's going to put them out.

"I haven't thought about it on their side, I've thought about it on our side; Tiger (Woods), Phil, (Jim) Furyk, Strick (Steve Stricker) -- that if you beat them, it's like more than a point."

Love seems content to focus on his squad and not worry about matchups he can't control anyway. He's happy with his guys from one through 12 and you can see the pride when he speaks about his rookies.

"They may be rookies here at the Ryder Cup, but they're major championship winners (Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson), they're FedEx Cup winners (Brandt Snedeker)," Love said. "They're veterans that are playing in their first Ryder Cup."

Gushing about his rookies like a proud father, Love admitted it may create some other problems for him -- playing favourites.

"(Watching them) it doesn't look like rookies versus veterans or (wild-card) picks versus guys that made it," he said. "It's hard to figure out what you do, who do you sit out. Why would you sit anyone out? They all look like veterans and it's exciting to watch."

And don't even get Love going about his veterans, whom he has played alongside in Ryder Cups and on the PGA Tour for years and with whom he now is in a mentorship role.

When asked about the leadership qualities of Mickelson, for example, Love became emotional.

"I can't tell you how many times both Tiger and Phil have said, 'Whatever you want us to do, we'll do it,' " he said. "I think that's the difference with a veteran, somebody who has been around. Phil gets it ...

"They're great, I love them," he said, tearing up and taking a moment. "I told you, Bubba (Watson) and I are going to cry a lot. We were both crying at the same table (Tuesday) night."

MIckelson -- who will have played in more Ryder Cups than any American when his ninth consecutive event begins in earnest Friday -- said Wednesday that Love's approach is borne of experience.

"I know that as a player, we have had different feels in the team room," Mickelson said. "The intensity has been there -- 'We've got to win.' There have been feelings in the team room of 'Let's have fun and enjoy this moment, this opportunity.' There (was) that feeling in '99 as though it was just destiny that something special was going to happen.

"I think over the years, looking back, we have not played our best when we have focused on trying to win the Ryder Cup. We've played our best when we've had fun."

Wednesday was the time to talk of team dinners, ping-pong tournaments, gifts of watches and china sets and the bonding that comes with staying on the same floor of a hotel.

But come Friday, it will be time for the players to do their speaking on the course.

We'll find out Sunday if the captain's soft touch will have worked, whether his players can return the love.

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@TimMcKayGolf

 


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