NEW YORK – The suspense around the U.S. Ryder Cup team selections finally came to an end on Tuesday morning, with captain Davis Love III choosing Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and Brandt Snedeker.
Take a look at what each had to say about participating in the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah:
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DAVIS LOVE III
There’s always as much focus on who made the team and who didn’t. I wonder if you can talk about how tough it was to leave off Hunter two won twice this year.
“It was tough to leave anybody off. I think as I said, this is probably the deepest, strongest year of earning points that I have seen. There was a lot of guys that played a lot of really good golf, and you can analyze the numbers up‑and‑down and back and forth.
“It was tough to leave, really, anybody off, because we could have gone very, very deep this year down the points list, to keep the points list running, a lot of different things. It’s tough to leave anybody off. There’s four great players that we have picked that are all playing very well and bring a lot to the team.
“And it was definitely a tough call for me. And I’d like to thank my assistant captains who gave me a lot of great input. The eight players on the team gave me a lot of great input. And it was a tough decision, but I felt like in the end, we rounded out our 12 the best way we knew how.”
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You’re going to bring four rookies to Medinah and Europeans will have only one. However, your eight veterans have played more career Ryder Cup Matches than the entire European Team. Can you talk about how much you’re going to lean on your veterans for leadership for the young guys, as well as the importance of having a mix of veterans and Ryder Cup rookies?
“Yeah, you definitely need some of both. You need the youthful enthusiastic energy of the young guys, but you also need the calming influence. I know the best thing that ever happened to me playing Ryder Cup golf was Tom Kite. Tom and I were friends. We had been through a lot. He beat me in playoffs. I watched him hit a million golf balls, but we had not played a Ryder Cup match together.
“When I got to play three Ryder Cup matches with him, it just set me up for understanding what The Ryder Cup was all about. You take a Brandt Snedeker and put him out there in his first practice round with Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, pretty much that’s all you need to do. After one day, he’ll be ready to go. And you pair him with a veteran, a Furyk or a Mickelson or a Stricker or a Tiger Woods maybe, those guys will lead him along, and that’s what it’s all about.
“Building a team and camaraderie are what The Ryder Cup is all about. I think our team will tell you, we pull together a lot better than people think we do. And then the only thing we do is we try too hard because we are so together. We get in our own way a little bit. That’s going to be our goal. We’ve talked about it a lot. Fred’s talked about it a lot, about what he’s done to have our guys loosen up, have fun, and go play golf.
“And these guys know how to do it. We just have to go do it for three days at Medinah. But I think we have got a great group of guys that are going to mesh well together.”
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I just wonder if you can take us through leaving TPC Boston yesterday and getting the phone call from Davis, what that was like, and how excited you were, if you can give us birdies and bogeys, hole‑by‑hole description of that?
“Yeah, it was a little nerve racking. I didn’t have any clue really. People kept telling me that I thought I would know something, but Davis played is very close to the vest. I had no clue one way or another. Got on the plane, got here to Minneapolis and got a voicemail from Davis just asking if i brought my putter from Boston and if I wanted to be on the team.
“I was just so excited when I got here. Couldn’t hardly sleep last night, I was so excited, so excited this morning. Just a huge, huge thing for my career. Last few years, I really tried hard to make this team, and to accomplish that is a very humbling thing. But also, now I’m on the team so have to make sure that we play well so we can keep that Cup in the U.S.”
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Davis mentioned the importance that Tom Kite had on him when he was a young Ryder Cup player. Do either of you have someone that you can point to that took you under their wing or calmed you down when you were a rookie Ryder Cup player?
“I definitely made some mistakes I think my rookie year. I spent too much time practicing. I wore myself down. I did the classic‑‑ made the classic rookie mistakes.
“But my calming influence, I played my first match with Tom Lehman and second match with Lee Janzen, both guys that I looked up to. I played a lot of golf on TOUR with Tom Lehman and I used to joke that every time I played with Tom, I played very well.
“So it was kind of‑‑ he was a calming influence and someone that I was very comfortable playing with. Even though I didn’t get the point in that match, I learned a whole lot about Ryder Cups.”
“I guess for me, it would have been, you know, maybe Davis and Jim, I started making these teams when I was either my 39th or 40th birthday; so I guess I was a little older than normal than some of the other guys. Being able to spend some time with Tiger out there, a guy who has had a tremendous amount of history in The Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, he’s been a pretty calming influence on me out there.
“But you know, really, going back to Wales with Davis, the captain, he took me under his hand for that initial match out, I guess it would have been Monday, the final, the singles day. They put the trust in me to lead the team out there in singles. He was right there in my back pocket all the way. So he’s given me a lot of confidence and calming influence along the way, as well.
Yeah, it’s important to get that from a multitude of players. It’s a nerve racking situation and you want to be prepared. There’s guys, obviously older guys, that have to step up and help some younger players deal with that situation.
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When you walked off that 18th green yesterday in Boston, did you think you had done enough to make the team?
“I thought I made my case pretty solid, but, you know, like I said before, it’s ultimately up to Davis to pick what he thinks is best for the team. You know, I’m happy to be on the team. I’m really looking forward to it. I think I bring a lot to the team. I really think I can help.”