Surprise as Davis Love III opts for opening Ryder Cup with foursomes

American captain unperturbed by previous bad record in that format

The strategist? If so, why would Davis Love III opt to start off the Ryder Cup with foursomes which have proven to be disastrous for the United States in past Ryder Cups, and none more so than in the 2014 match at Gleneagles where Europe dominated to the extent they outscored the invaders by 7-1 in those two sessions, 3 ½ to ½ on each occasion.

If people were scratching their heads as to why Love loved decided to start this 41st edition of the Ryder Cup with foursomes, the answer – it transpired – had all to do with simple logistics. "It just plays so much faster, gets us done before lunch," explained Love.

The strategist? What does he do with all those statistics that come his way? “A lot of the stats that I get, I just throw them out because we’ve kind of got a good, fresh attitude right now,” said Love.

One statistic, though, should be firmly implanted in Love’s head and it comes back to those foursomes where Europe has traditionally had an edge in the alternate-shot format. It was brought to its extreme, for sure, in the match at Gleneagles but also manifested itself in the 2010 match at Celtic Manor where – in that revised scheduling – Europe edged ahead.


So, the strategist? Love has a gameplan, which started off with a motivational talk to his team on Monday night from Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps. It continued with talk from Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker in the dining room afterwards which allowed Love to move down to the back of the room and listen.

And in his mind he knows what he is going to say to his team. It has nothing to do with task forces. It is simple.

“What I’m trying to tell our team, is we are really good. We have got a lot of experience, a lot of guys that have played Ryder Cups. If we just go out and play like our World Rankings, just go out and play golf!”

He added: “We’ve just got to stick with our game plan. We’ve got a good plan. We are all going to go out there and do a good job, what our captain’s asked us to do and play hard and have fun. The results will take care of themselves, I think.”

Love has sought to get his team to forget the past, to forget that they haven’t won the last three Ryder Cup matches.

“Obviously we’ve got a different team, and that’s what I keep telling this team. You know, don’t look to the past. This team’s never played together before. This team has no history. They are a great team and we’re going to obviously have different pairings because we have different players.”

A losing captain at Medinah in 2012, when caught short by the greatest comeback of a visiting team in the singles, Love remarked: “I think our overall plan and preparation, our overall plan for the week, is certainly a little more defined than it was in 2012. But we got 12 great players. The hard thing is sitting four of them out every session is the only struggle we’re having because everybody is playing so well.”

The strategist. His call.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times