Ryder Cup US Team Announces New Captain Structure

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 24, 2015

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30:  Davis Love III addresses the crowd at the closing ceremonies after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Davis Love III was officially named the 2016 Team USA Ryder Cup captain on Tuesday. With the news came word of the adjustments Love and the U.S. task force are making to try to level the playing field with Europe.

Golf Central has the details of some of the tweaks being made, with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and other officials forming a think tank of sorts to tackle the USA's Ryder Cup travails:

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Ryder Cup news: There will be four U.S. vice captains, including two former captains and two players with Ryder Cup experience.

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Davis Love III says one of the mistakes he made in his 2012 captaincy was not reaching out to previous captains, like Tom Kite.

Golf Central @GolfCentral

A 6-person committee will keep alive the task force: Love, Mickelson, Woods, and PGA officials Derek Sprague, Pete Bevacqua and Paul Levy

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Love says U.S. players need to practice match play before the Ryder Cup starts. Says Mickelson is good at setting up matches.

Love named Tom Lehman as an assistant captain, a potentially savvy move to provide a native Minnesotan perspective on the venue, Hazeltine National Golf Club:

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Minnesota native Tom Lehman on being named an assistant in 2016 matches at Hazeltine: "A thrill beyond all thrills."

Also featured in Tuesday's press conference was Mickelson's thoughts about the revamped USA approach:

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Phil Mickelson: "We really haven't had the opportunity to have our opinion be heard (in the past) ... this is a positive step."

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Phil on being a player-captain: "I don't think I'm there yet. I want to make the team playing. I'm not there mentally to grasp that one yet"

Stephanie Wei weighed in on what she took away from the gathering of golf minds:

Stephanie Wei @StephanieWei

Major theme of this Ryder Cup presser (and what appears to also have been during the task force meetings) has been "continuity."

James Corrigan of The Daily Telegraph couldn't help but be a bit skeptical at the latest U.S. tactics:

James Corrigan @jcorrigangolf

Mickelson is second biggest loser in US Ryder Cup history (after Tiger)... So why does Davis Love keep referencing him in referential terms?

James Corrigan @jcorrigangolf

Let's face it, if any of the Europe team were listening to Love's press conference they would have laughed themselves silly. All nonsense

But as that questionably authentic ancient Italian maxim goes, "He who is resistant to change is destined to perish."

The Americans have to do something to get out of their perpetual Ryder Cup funk, which abated only in 2008 amid an anomalous triumph at Valhalla with Paul Azinger as captain.

Likable, swagger-filled players such as the AWOL Anthony Kim, who made such a profound impact on that 2008 squad, are lacking on the U.S. side as of late. Reigning FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel fits the bill, but he didn't make the 2014 Ryder Cup cut.

Todd Lewis of Golf Channel analyzed one of the fresh changes in that context:

Todd Lewis @ToddLewisGC

@Love3d will make one Captain's pick after the Tour Championship. @BillyHo_Golf would have made the 2014 team with this in place.

Camaraderie, an absence of controversy and uncrushable confidence have allowed Team Europe to dominate. Save for the spell of 2008, it has held the Ryder Cup since 2002.

Love even alluded to how Europe appears to be in great shape with Darren Clarke at the helm in 2016, via Golf Digest's Ron Sirak:

Ron Sirak @ronsirak

Davis Love on what kind of captain @DarrenClarke60 will be: "They will have a lot of laughs and they will be well dressed."

For whatever it's worth, Love has the evident passion to get the Americans back on track—which has to be fed at least in part due to his past in the international event:

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Davis Love III says after 2012 he offered to be the full-time cart guy and towel boy, because, "I just enjoy it. I love to be a part of it."

The last time Love was captain came in 2012, when the meltdown at Medinah occurred and Team USA blew a huge Sunday singles lead. At least that team was close to winning. The key is for Love to find a way to spark his next team to get over the hump, as that year and even 2010 were decided by just one point.

It's easy to overthink anything in golf. For whatever reason, Team Europe doesn't seem to need any extra preparation to jell together and emerge victorious despite the relatively even talent pool on both sides.

At least the U.S. is trying in earnest to shift the recent trend of Ryder Cup failures. As important as it is to choose the best possible players, infusing the team with the right personalities to nurture chemistry is just as important.

Love will get his shot to redeem falling just short the last time around—with an unprecedented amount of help and resources at his disposal. Whether it amounts to any true change will be decided on the course beginning on September 30, 2016, in Chaska, Minnesota.


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