PGA chief hails Davis Love as ‘born leader’

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THE US task force set up in the wake of last year’s Ryder Cup in Scotland has selected a “born leader” in Davis Love III to try to end Europe’s recent dominance in the event at Hazeltine in just over a year’s time.

However, PGA of America president Derek Sprague has insisted that Phil Mickelson’s public criticism of Tom Watson following the defeat at Gleneagles wasn’t the catalyst for Love’s re-appointment as part of the US process for the biennial match being put under the microscope.

“Certainly it could have been handled differently,” said Sprague, speaking at CordeValle ahead of the 27th PGA Cup, of Mickelson ripping Watson’s captaincy to shreds as the five-times Open champion sat a

few feet away. “Some people will say it should have been done in private.

“But I was already thinking that it was crazy to have a process where we start over every two years and that we had to build a programme that we know from year to year is right and we are getting progression. My head was already there, the leadership of the PGA of America was already there, so what happened after Gleneagles didn’t have much to do with it.”

In his second stint as captain – he had the US on course for victory at Medinah three years ago until Europe’s record-equalling last-day fightback – Love will get together with his opposite number, Darren Clarke, in a “year to go” event in Minnesota at the end of this month.

“Davis is still playing at a high level and, of course, won the Wyndham Championship earlier this year. That, in my opinion, has given him much more credibility going forward to Hazeltine,” added Sprague, who took over the PGA of America reins after Ted Bishop was unceremoniously removed from office when he referred to Ian Poulter as “Lil Girl”.

“Davis is very humble, he’s inclusive, he’s a good listener, almost like a born leader in that sense. Leaders are good listeners. I think the players like to have their opinion heard, and he’s a good listener.”

The task force was set up on the back of the US losing eight of the last ten matches. “I think it is important for the Ryder Cup in general that we win at Hazeltine as you don’t want people to lose interest in it,” said Sprague. “However, the most important thing for us is trying to build a programme.”

Delighted to see the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler leading a new wave of young American players, he added: “We are trying to make decisions that aren’t just for 2016. They are for the next ten Ryder Cups, for the next 20 years. We are trying to make sure the points system, the schedule for the week is right on American soil as well as foreign soil.”

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