Couples, Hulbert named U.S. Ryder assistants
BETHESDA, Md. — U.S. captain Davis Love III selected a pair of longtime friends, Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert, as his assistants for the Ryder Cup. He said Wednesday they will help him choose his two other assistant captains for the Sept. 28-30 matches at Medinah.
Neither selection was a big surprise.
Couples last month at the Memorial let slip that he would be an assistant to Love, and then tried to cover his mistake by saying he was only helping him out. No one was fooled, and Love showed his bemusement in announcing his choices Wednesday.
"I'd like to re-announce some announcements that Fred Couples let slip," he said.
Love and Couples were stalwarts in the World Cup, winning a record four straight years as a team from 1992 to 1995. They also were teammates in the Ryder Cup, going 1-2 in team matches.
Couples has been overlooked as a Ryder Cup captain, but he has led the U.S. to victory in the last two Presidents Cups and has been chosen captain again for 2013.
"I've talked to Fred a lot since he's done so well the last couple years with the Presidents Cup team," Love said. "Talked to him a lot, gotten a lot of advice, been surprised at his level of detail and his commitment to the Presidents Cup. And I know that's why the guys are lobbying for him to do it over and over again, because he really has put a lot into it."
Love was paired with Hulbert when he first played at a PGA Tour event as an amateur, and they have been close friends ever since. Hulbert, laid back and affable, also was an assistant to Curtis Strange at The Belfry in 2002. Love said Strange referred to Hulbert as the best assistant in Ryder Cup history.
"Those who were my natural choices," Love said. "My next two are going to be harder."
Couples knows the players through his occasional starts on the PGA Tour and in role as Presidents Cup captain. Hulbert is not on tour very often. Love suggested his next two assistants would be current players.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal has not announced his four assistant captains.
Love also announced that the Ryder Cup would begin with foursomes matches. Fourballs have led off the event four of the last five years — the exception was in 2008 at Valhalla, which was the only Ryder Cup the Americans have won since 1999.
The home captain can decide the order of matches.
"We feel like with our team, the way it's shaping up, the way it's played in the past, that's a good thing for us to do right off the bat in the morning," Love said. "The players that I've talked to were either for it or heavily for it. So I think we have a lot of confidence that we're better at that format than people think we are."