MEDINAH, Ill. – Davis Love III had to share his big day with Chicago’s beloved Bears.
If he leads the Americans to the Ryder Cup in the fall of 2012, he’ll have the whole town to himself.
An emotional and enthusiastic Love was introduced Thursday as the next U.S. captain of the Ryder Cup, then spent the next few hours being feted across Chicago. He was made an honorary member at Medinah Country Club, where the 2012 matches will be played, got a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup, and hobnobbed with Chicago’s sports royalty: Scottie Pippen, Dan Hampton and Ernie Banks.
“Good luck to you,” Pippen, who teamed with Michael Jordan to win six NBA titles with the Bulls, told Love at an afternoon reception. “I’m looking forward to popping some champagne with you.”
All five of Chicago’s pro teams presented Love with personalized jerseys, and the White Sox threw in a ball from the 2005 World Series. Love also was to be a guest of the Bulls at their game against the Dallas Mavericks later Thursday night.
“The whole world is going to be watching what we do here in Chicago,” Love said. “When we get here, when the European team gets here, we’re going to be at least a point ahead because we’re going to have the Chicago fans, the Chicago energy.”
The daylong celebration of Love’s appointment wraps up a week that put the Ryder Cup in the news some 18 months before the next shot is struck. Europe, which won the gold trophy in Wales last October, appointed two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal as its captain Tuesday.
Love’s appointment was hardly a secret, and it was clear he’s already working on a plan to reverse the Americans’ recent Ryder Cup woes. Europe has won six of the last eight matchups.
Love has started talking with PGA and Medinah officials about course setup. He’s thought about the qualities he wants in his vice captains and who might be suited for those jobs. At dinner Wednesday night, he and wife Robin spent part of the time looking at the ballrooms and imagining how they could be configured for team meeting rooms.
As for those disastrous rainsuits that leaked, causing a distraction before the Americans even teed off in Wales, Love pledged that a big part of his job will be making sure his players feel as comfortable and prepared as possible.
“I’m a players’ captain,” he said earlier in the day. “I’ll try to get them what they need to be successful. I’m not going to tell the best players in the world how to play golf. I’m not going to read their putts. I’m going to stay out of their way and let them show their talents. I think a good leader knows he’s got a great team and just gets them prepared and let’s them go play.”
Love, a 20-time winner on the PGA Tour, played on six Ryder Cup teams. His first three matches, with Tom Kite as his partner, were against Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros, the “Spanish Armada” that formed one of the most daunting teams in Ryder Cup history. Love won that first match, but never beat Olazabal again. They never played each other in singles.
Olazabal won his second green jacket in 1999, and while his duel that day was with Greg Norman, the Spaniard held off a late charge by Love, who was the runner-up.
Love recalled that Olazabal brought a special Spanish wine to serve at the Masters’ Champions Dinner that next year, and he gave Love the leftover bottles.
“I’ll always remember his generosity,” said Love, who said he has not spoken to Olazabal this week. “He’s always been a good friend. It’ll be a tough competition. On Thursday we’ll be friends, and Sunday night we’ll still be friends.”
Love said he would consider playing if he earned his way on the team, although a U.S. captain has never qualified for the team in recent decades. Love last qualified for the team in 2004, when Europe routed the Americans at Oakland Hills.
“We’ll cross that bridge if we get to it,” Love said. “If we had good assistants and I’m playing great, that would be a great story for our team and for golf – as long as I get three or four points out of the deal.”
This was the second time Love has been showcased by the PGA of America, and both times he fought tears. The other occasion was in 1997 at Winged Foot, when he won the PGA Championship and broke down thinking about his father, Davis Love Jr., a longtime PGA professional who died in a plane crash early in Love’s career.
“Now to be named Ryder Cup captain is a thrill I never thought I would have,” said Love, his voice choking and his eyes filling with tears. “I’d love to share that with my father. I know somehow I am. … There’s not a tour player out there that plays one tour event or six Ryder Cups that doesn’t have a PGA professional that led them to that position.”
Love picked as 2012 US Ryder Cup captain
MEDINAH, Ill. – Davis Love III had to share his big day with Chicago’s beloved Bears.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.
Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia
Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.
Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.
Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.
It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.
The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.