Love winding down his most hectic year


ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Posted on the wall of the Sea Island Golf Performance Center is a scaled-down version of a poster that adorned the walls of the U.S. Ryder Cup team room last month at Hazeltine National.

“When you leave here:

“Don’t believe or fuel the hype

“Support your teammates

“Ignore the noise”

It wasn’t signed by Davis Love III - that wouldn’t be his style, but it’s as good an explanation of the American team’s victory over the Europeans as one can find.

It was Love’s way of adding sanity to what has largely become an insanely intimidating event, but it could just as well apply to the captain’s life the last year.

"Hectic" really wouldn’t cover the year Love just endured: the culmination of all the work that went into the two-year Ryder Cup task force, his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, surgery in July on an ailing hip and, just for good measure, a hurricane that left his St. Simons Island community reeling.

Even for Love, a bona fide type A, it’s been a whirlwind of staggering proportions.

“It was a long six years for us as Ryder Cuppers,” said Love, going all the way back to his first turn as captain in 2012. “Just every year it seemed to pile on more and more on the players.”

October’s victory over Europe has helped put some punctuation on what has seemed an endless cycle, and Love admitted on Wednesday at the RSM Classic, which he hosts, that he hasn’t fully digested what he and the U.S. team accomplished at Hazeltine.

“I still get emotional,” he said. “I think if I sat down and watched the whole thing, it would really all come out. I can’t tell a Bubba Watson story or a Ryan Moore story without the emotion coming out.”

Not that Love has had much time to reflect.

In the wake of the Ryder Cup, Love withdrew from the Safeway Open and OHL Classic, admitting he may have been a little overambitious with his planning.

His game wasn’t ready, which is understandable considering the competing agendas in his life, and he’s still not 100 percent following his hip surgery. That he spent the difficult days following Hurricane Matthew in October helping neighbors recover one fallen tree at a time also didn’t help.

And then there’s the Hall of Fame, which seems to be a milestone that he’s not entirely comfortable with.

“[Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem and I’ve been talking about the Hall of Fame for a long time and I’ve been trying to get him to let me out of it and he wouldn’t let me out of it,” Love said. “I still feel like that’s Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, that’s not Davis Love.”

Love is more of a man of the moment, shifting his focus to this week’s event and his role as the host with the most.

On Tuesday night, he hosted the pro-am draw party at his house, because it’s comfortable but more importantly, he explained, it saves his foundation money that can be better spent on various charities.

The highlight of that party was the captain making the rounds with the Ryder Cup.

“It’s amazing at our house last night, hundreds of people there for the pro-am draw party and everybody wanted their picture with the cup,” Love said. “They’ve all had their picture with me but they wanted their picture with the cup.”

The Ryder Cup has been everywhere but the golf course this week, including his granddaughter’s crib and riding shotgun in his pickup truck as he’s tooled around the island.

In many ways it’s a fittingly hectic end to a truly frenzied year, the impact etched into Love’s still boyish face.

Asked what he could possibly want after such an eventful season, Love’s answer was a bit of a mixed message.

“Some quiet time,” he smiled, before adding that he plans to play plenty of golf in 2017, pick up where he left off at Hazeltine as one of Steve Stricker’s vice captains at next year’s Presidents Cup and he still has his Hall of Fame induction speech to write.

Even as the 2016 maelstrom winds down, Love is looking to the next challenge. It’s in his DNA. You know the deal – a mind in motion ...

“His rest would most likely kill people,” said Mac Barnhardt, Love’s longtime manager and friend. “His rest is so tiring. He’ll go to his barn and sweep the floor and take people hunting. He’ll fix fences and he’ll go snowboarding. That’s his rest, that’s his slowing down.”

It turns out that sign Love hung in the team room at Hazeltine was less a motivational tool for his Ryder Cup dozen than it was a philosophy on life.

Don’t believe or fuel the hype, support your teammates, ignore the noise.