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updated: 9/26/2012 8:28 PM

Love's nature perfect to be U.S. captain

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  • USA's captain Davis Love III and Tiger Woods pose with the Ryder Cup trophy at Medinah Country Club.

      USA's captain Davis Love III and Tiger Woods pose with the Ryder Cup trophy at Medinah Country Club.
    Associated Press

  • USA's captain Davis Love III, right, and European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal answer questions during a news conference at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.

      USA's captain Davis Love III, right, and European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal answer questions during a news conference at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill.
    Associated Press

 
 

The more you listen to, talk with and watch Davis Love III in action, the more you come to one conclusion: The guy was born to be a Ryder Cup captain.

From his background, literally born into golf as the son of the late club pro Davis Love Jr., to his love of the history of the game. And who better to pass that along than his late friend, Harvey Penick, the man whom his father learned the game from?

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Despite having what always has looked like a laid-back demeanor on the course, Love was -- and still is -- one tough competitor, with 20 Tour victories, including a PGA Championship. He also was a six-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Off the course, it's always been a different story for the native of North Carolina. He's calm, funny and a more-emotional-than-you'd-think family man who always seems to have a good perspective on things.

What better characteristics to carry with him this week as he captains the U.S. team at Medinah Country Club in what figures to be a raucous, electric 39th Ryder Cup?

"When they put the flags in and everyone has the same outfit on, the same golf bag … it becomes a whole different story," said Love, who choked up a bit when he met the media Wednesday.

"It's hard to turn that off, but that's going to be my thing, along with my four assistants. We're going to say, 'Hey look guys, here's the goal: just relax and have fun.'"

Ben Crenshaw and Hal Sutton -- a couple of former Ryder Cup captains -- see that as the perfect tonic for a U.S. team that features four rookies and is lugging a bit of pressure around thanks to not having the best record of late in Ryder Cup matches.

"I think Davis is kind of a calming personality anyway," Sutton said. "Just Davis being Davis will do that. He can read the situation. He knows what to do."

"He's very good; he's decisive and he's calm," Crenshaw added. "He's a good planner; he knows what he wants to do. He's studied this golf course, knows where he wants guys to play.

"He's a pretty thorough captain. He's always been that way."

And despite the constant requests for his time, the nonstop talk about the Ryder Cup that began the moment he was named captain and the pressure and planning that comes with the gig, this is what Love wanted.

It's what he started thinking about four or five years ago and was cemented when he served as an assistant captain to Corey Pavin in 2010 in Wales.

Spending time with Pavin gave him a good idea of what to expect leading up to Medinah. Well, almost.

"When I went through the last one, then I realized, 'Uh-oh. I've been looking at this all the wrong way,'" Love said with a laugh.

"I was saying it's probably like President Obama when he ran, and then all of a sudden they'd sit him down and say, 'Now you're the president, here's what's really going on.' You go, 'Oh, my goodness.'"

Sutton has no doubt that Love is up to the task.

"Trust his gut is what I would say," Sutton said. "It comes right down to whether they're playing well or not, and it looks like they all are. But you can make any decision you want as a captain, and if they're not playing well, it's not going to work."

With Love in charge, there is one certainty, however: No matter how much hype there is, how many Stars and Stripes are waved and how many chants of "U.S.A., U.S.A." reverberate down the Medinah fairways this weekend, the ever-grounded 48-year-old will keep things in perspective.

"This is not a war. It's a golf match," Love said. "It's a friendly golf match that's grown a little bit since they started it, and it continues to be a friendly golf match."

Spoken like a true captain.

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