They never learn do they? Return of Davis Love III as Ryder Cup captain a backward step

Steve Elling explains why the imminent decision to reappoint David Love III for a second spell as USA Ryder Cup captain is a major step back.

Picking Love not only smacks of a conflict of interest but was greeted as an uninspired choice. Andrew Couldridge / Action Images
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As the European side continue down a successful, choreographed path and yesterday selected captaincy favourite Darren Clarke to run the Ryder Cup team next autumn, the Americans are reaffirming why committees are to creativity what mulligans are to a legitimate score.

Stop us if you have heard this one before.

According to multiple reports, Davis Love III will be next week named as the 2016 American Ryder Cup team captain.

No, your brain did not stutter. Love, the same guy who stood at the wheel during the epic US collapse at Medinah three years ago, has been invited back for a reprise.

It is being panned as golf’s worst sequel since Caddyshack 2.


Love is non-abrasive, did nearly everything right during the 2012 loss and was offered the gig by a new, 11-man panel formed to staunch the bleeding after the loss to Europe last ­September.

The committee, which included Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods – who have lost more Ryder matches individually than any players in US history – did not meander beyond the walls of their meeting room in the final analysis, much less outside the proverbial box.

Picking Love not only smacks of a conflict of interest, since he is a member of the US panel, but was greeted as an uninspired choice for a side attempting to stop a desperate losing streak, during which Europe has won eight of the past 10 meetings heading into the 2016 staging at Hazeltine in Minnesota. Love is about as original as argyle.

As author PJ O’Rourke once said: “The minute somebody joins a committee, they immediately suffer from committee brain. They become wildly over-enthusiastic, over-optimistic, over-pessimistic. Committees turn people into idiots.”

If the golf shoe fits, wear it. The committee was a direct result of Mickelson’s public insurrection following the American loss at Gleneagles, when he castigated captain Tom Watson for being imperious and disconnected.

Ironically, Watson was the hand-picked choice of Ted Bishop, the deposed former president of the PGA of America, the organisation that runs the US’s portion of the event.

Bishop crawled out on a unilateral limb when he picked Watson from the retread pile, hoping to change two decades of bad luck by picking an older hand to man the helm.

Watson captained the Americans to victory in 1993, but the blowback in September was close to mutinous.

So, despite the availability of three-time Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples – who all but lobbied for the Ryder Cup job – the consensus was to hire Love, yet another retread. At least Watson’s team won in ’93.

Said The Daily Telegraph of the decision: "They [Americans] never learn, do they?"

The Love news was greeted with plenty of derision. Some aficionados hoped the committee might retool the selection template and select a female, a foreigner, college coach or a less-heralded player to run the show. Something – anything – different.

US fans wanted revisionists, but got recidivists.

No question, Love’s team played almost flawlessly in 2012 before caving in singles play as Europe staged the wildest last-day comeback in event history.

As part of the biennial exhumation of the American corpse, Love’s singles pairings were scrutinised, but with players such as Woods, Mickelson and Furyk all losing down the stretch, there was little Love could do but suffer publicly, like so many of his predecessors.

But did he deserve another crack? Author John LeCarre might have described the collective mindset best: “A committee is an animal with four back legs.”

Must make it handy when moving backward.

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