Punch Shot: Love as '16 RC captain - good or bad call?

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2015, 1:37 am

Davis Love III will be named the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reported Monday. Love was the losing 2012 U.S. captain and was selected by the U.S. Ryder Cup task force to lead the team next year at Hazeltine. Is this a good call or bad call? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in.


Davis Love III is the right choice as the American Ryder Cup captain if Fred Couples and Paul Azinger don’t want the job.

That doesn’t sound like it’s the case, though.

The real story here isn’t Love getting the job. It’s why he’s getting the job. It’s why he’s better qualified for whatever new vision the Ryder Cup task force is laying out for the future of the captaincy than are Couples and Azinger, who have both proven themselves formidably as winners in international team events.

If you’re seeking an answer to the American Ryder Cup woes, you start with Couples and Azinger. You have to dismiss them before moving on. There’s no getting around that. From the outside, it’s staggering that their proven methods, as wildly different as they are, weren’t deemed good enough. They’ve already figured out something nobody on that task force has figured out – how to captain a winning international team – and it’s curious how they’re deemed less suited to the Ryder Cup task than Love.

This new American Ryder Cup leadership model Love fits better than Couples and Azinger is the real story here, if the task force is actually constructing one. If there isn’t, “task force” was a colossal misnomer. If the “task force” isn’t creating a new team construct, then it was nothing more than a glorified selection committee.

To be clear, Love isn’t a bad choice here. He was a very good captain who put his team in position to win at Medinah in 2012. The question is why he’s better suited than two proven winners with proven methods.


The issue is not that the PGA of America selected Davis Love III for the 2016 captaincy. He’s wildly popular among the players, he put his team in position to win at Medinah, and he would have been hailed as a savior if not for Europe’s historic final-day rally.

The issue is how the PGA arrived at this decision.

Let’s start with the basic premise that the task force was overkill and a drastic overreaction to what happened at Gleneagles. For months we’ve heard from players and PGA officials that this 11-man group is a necessary step to ensure a bright future for this event. They talked this thing to death, looked from all angles at why the Americans have lost six of seven cups, and decided to recycle not just a past captain, but one who lost.

Fred Couples and Paul Azinger were the favorites for the job, but they declined invitations to the task force. That must have rubbed the group the wrong way, because Love had a prime seat at the table and was involved in the decision-making that led to him being named captain. Conflict of interest, no?

The 2016 Ryder Cup is still 19 months away, but it is clear that the overhyped task force already has a credibility issue.  


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result, so a retread captain like Davis Love III will receive plenty of critique. But while Love came up short at Medinah, his selection to lead the Americans at Hazeltine has plenty of merit.

If nothing else, Love’s selection eliminates what was reportedly one of the biggest issues among the 2014 Ryder Cup squad – the rapport between the captain and his 12 players. Love is held in high esteem among his PGA Tour colleagues, and the roster will certainly be motivated to atone for 2012, when he seemingly had one hand on the trophy.

The much-discussed task force didn’t exactly strike out into uncharted territory with this pick, but it did begin to turn the tide from the low reached last fall under Tom Watson’s watch. And just think, if any one in a series of events had broken in the Americans’ favor on that final day at Medinah, Love might have been viewed as a consensus choice without the need for a selection committee.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.