The 50-year-old’s re-appointment for next year’s match at Hazeltine was confirmed last night at a press conference attended by members of the said “task force”, including Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
“I agreed to be captain again for one reason – the members of the task force said they will do whatever needs to be done for this team to be successful,” said Love. “This will be an all-in team with a shared vision.”
At a press conference held at the PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, it was also announced that Minnesota man Tom Lehman, the losing captain at The K Club in 2006, will be one of Love’s vice-captains at Hazeltine.
Going forward, the Americans will have four vice-captains, two of whom will be former captains, while qualifying for next year’s match will get underway in next week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
“This is a new business model, a new team culture,” added Love. “It will be a collective effort and our goal is simple – we want to win.”
Mickelson, who slaughtered Tom Watson in the aftermath of last year’s defeat in Perthshire, described the announcements as a “positive step” and said the new blueprint would be “exciting for generations to follow”.
The 2013 Open champion added: “This has been such a fun experience. We really haven’t had the opportunity to voice our opinion to be heard.”
Love looked to have an edge over Jose Maria Olazabal as he guided the Americans to a 10-6 lead after the opening two days at Medinah in 2012 only to see his dream of becoming a winning captain turn into a nightmare as Europe equalled the record last-day fightback to come out on top. Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner were the only American players to win in the singles, leading Ted Bishop, the PGA of America president at the time, to ask Tom Watson to become captain at Gleneagles last year.
After that match also ended in disappointment for the Americans - they went down 16½-11½ to a home side marshalled superbly by Paul McGinley – the “task force” was set up charged with the responsibility of selecting the next captain and considering possible changes to the qualifying criteria.
An 11-man committee that Included Love as well as Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Fowler and former captains Lehman and Ray Floyd, it was expected to appoint either Fred Couples, a three-times winner as Presidents Cup captain, or Paul Azinger, who led the Americans to their most recent Ryder Cup victory at Valhalla in 2008.
However, it emerged last week that Love was set to be re-appointed, partly it seems because Couples’ legendary laid-back was a concern to the “task force” members while Azinger didn’t appear keen to be considered for a second stint.
Love made his Ryder Cup debut as a player in 1993 and played in six encounters, winning nine of his 26 matches, losing 12 and halving five. He holed the winning putt on his debut at The Belfry in 1993, and he lost only one of his six singles encounters. In his final playing appearance in 2004 at Oakland Hills in Detroit, he halved his match with Darren Clarke, the man he’ll now lock horns with at Hazeltine.
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