Davis Love III doesn’t need any advice. The current United States Ryder Cup captain has admirably performed every aspect of his role to date, namely, umm … suggesting to potential team members that they play well and, err… investigating specific wardrobe patterns against particular colors and, uhh … ensuring that host venue Medinah Country Club appears befitting of such status.
Yes, so far Love has done everything in his control to help the American side claim honors back from the Europeans. Which doesn’t mean much since there’s so little a captain can do to control the outcome, especially this early in the game.
Now, though, things are about to get real.
It’s time for the captain to read the fine print. It’s time for him to find a loophole, some language in the Ryder Cup contract which grants absolute power to the home team and allows it to move up the proceedings by four months.
If not, he should petition the PGA of America and appeal to the European Tour. Whatever it takes to change the dates of the festivities from Sept. 28-30 to ASAP.
That’s right. Love’s bugs need to play this thing, like, tomorrow – if not sooner. Round up the private jets, collect the 12 best candidates and get 'em to Chicago. Call up European counterpart Jose Maria Olazabal and tell him it’s now or never – or as U.S. team member Rickie Fowler would tweet: “Go time!”
The way the U.S. players are playing, Love needs to strike while the irons – and especially the putters – are hot.
Check out what your fellow Americans have accomplished recently, and you’ll understand the need for speed when it comes to moving this thing up.
Fowler hasn’t finished outside of the top five in a month, with a results table that includes his first career PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow. Jason Dufner has looked like the second coming of Ben Hogan – or least a young David Duval – in claiming his first two titles and nearly grabbing a third on Sunday. Zach Johnson was the beneficiary of Dufner’s luck running out, finally breaking through at Colonial after two runner-up finishes in his previous three starts. Matt Kuchar took The Players Championship in convincing fashion, turning his celebrated consistency into the biggest win of his career.
What does each member of this foursome have in common? If the Ryder Cup were being contested today, they would own four of the eight automatic roster spots.
It’s not as if the other guys are stone cold, either.
The remaining four spots would be filled by a Masters champion (Bubba Watson), another recent major winner (Keegan Bradley), the only other two-time titleholder this year (Hunter Mahan) and a recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee (Phil Mickelson).
That’s a whole lotta talent for Love to love – and the well doesn’t exactly dry up after those top eight qualifiers.
The next eight on the current points list – Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Ben Curtis, Johnson Wagner, Kyle Stanley and Mark Wilson – have each won a Tour event already in the year’s first five months, giving the captain plenty of ammo for his four wild-card selections.
All of which leads to one prevailing notion: The team will never be hotter than it is right now.
Granted, that only increases the U.S. chances by mere percentage points. As we’ve often witnessed over the years, the hotter team on paper hardly owns much of an advantage once the first balls are in the air at this biennial grindfest, but even the smallest advantage is still an advantage.
After all, it’s not as if the best Europeans have spent the season looking uncontrollably like 18-handicappers. Luke Donald is fresh off another major – if not “major” – victory at the Euro flagship event that once again elevated him to No. 1 in the world. Prior to missing his last two cuts, Rory McIlroy was looking like a world-beater in every sense of the term. And from Lee Westwood to Graeme McDowell to Paul Lawrie to Justin Rose, plenty of other potential team members are also rounding into form.
If you had to pick a favorite, though, right this very second, on paper, based on recent performance, the advantage – albeit a slight one – would go to the red, white and blue. Or lilac, should Love choose to follow previous captain Corey Pavin’s color scheme. Whatever the case, it’s an advantage which may not linger much longer, so Love needs to pounce when the time is right.
Forget that the stage isn’t ready, and the wardrobes haven’t been decided, and there will be scheduling conflicts and complete confusion for everybody who had the last week of September circled on a calendar.
Love may never own a greater advantage over his opponent than he does right now. Without finding a loophole to move up the competition by four months, that advantage may wither as time goes on.