Love open to advice from Azinger
Golf:United States captain Davis Love plans to take a leaf out of Paul Azinger’s book as he bids to reclaim the Ryder Cup for his country. Azinger devised and executed a meticulous plan to end a run of three successive European victories in the biennial event at Valhalla four years ago.
Azinger later wrote a book about his leadership style, which most notably included dividing players into ‘pods’ according to their personality to bring the best out of them. With Europe holding the trophy once again heading into this week’s contest at Medinah, Chicago, Love has absorbed plenty of advice from Azinger as he aims to reassert American authority.
Love, who played in six Ryder Cups but was not in the 2008 team, said: “Paul’s so fired up and so passionate about the Ryder Cup, and it’s so exciting to see that. The mistake I made was not going to Valhalla and watching.
“I should have gone, because it was right there, it was home. I think I was at a horse show with my daughter or something. I should have gone, because he really put so much into it, and he’s given me a lot of very good advice and I’ll pick on him a little bit.
“When the iPhone says Paul Azinger, I have to make a decision — do I have 30, 45 minutes, or do I hit the ignore button? Sometimes I hit ignore and sometimes I answered it. It’s really incredible how much thought and passion he put into it, and I could tell you 10 or 12 things we’re going to do that he told us.
“In a week I’m going to miss is Paul calling me and going, ‘Just one more thing, I forgot one thing,‘ — and then it’s six.”
The US were so heavily beaten at Oakland Hills in 2004 and the K Club, Dublin, two years later — by nine points on each occasion — that there were fears the leading Americans were losing interest in the team event. Azinger changed that by restoring the team ethic and re-engaging the public.
Love expects his opposite number Jose Maria Olazabal to have probed plenty of past captains for advice. The 48-year-old said: “It’s been a lot of fun, and I know Jose Maria has been getting it from other captains. The past captains have been incredible supporting me and my team, helping us out and giving us advice.”