• Lehman, Mickelson and Woods lead praise for Davis Love
• "He was a perfect fit for what we wanted," said Mickelson
• Woods: "I have great respect for him as a person, player and captain
DAVIS LOVE III | RYDER CUP
Davis Love III was officially named as the US Ryder Cup captain at a PGA of America press conference last night, with vice-captain Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson among those endorsing the man who will lead the team at Hazeltine in 2016.
Love, 50, was the choice of an 11-man task force – including himself – as the USA look to end a run of eight defeats in the last ten matches, coming closest to breaking that when he was denied by the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in his first stint as captain in 2012.
Six of the 11 task force members were present at the press conference, co-chairs Derek Sprague and Pete Bevacqua, Love, Lehman, Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, with 2006 Ryder Cup captain Lehman delighted to be named as one of four vice-captains.
He said: “Davis was a great captain and will continue to be a great captain with this 2016 team. I'm so excited to be a part of this team and be part of the process of building a team that has a chance to succeed in 2016.
"I'm excited, honoured and looking forward to watching Davis do his thing" - Tom Lehman
“On a personal level, being from Alexandria, Minnesota, to be able to go back home and be a part of this Ryder Cup Team, it will be a thrill beyond all thrills. So I'm excited, honoured and looking forward to watching Davis do his thing.”
Mickelson, who was scathing in his criticism of Tom Watson’s captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014, had reportedly wanted Fred Couples as captain, but said Davis Love leading would be good for Team USA’s long-term future.
He said: “He felt like he was taking somebody's spot. He felt like it wasn't his place to do that.
“But you want to have somebody that can look back on past things that have been done well and things that could be improved upon. Davis, in 2012, did a lot of great things right and he did some things that he would like to do differently, so he has something to work from.
“He was a perfect fit for what we wanted in that we have input coming from all different areas, and he's a great guy to integrate all that information. He's a guy that people love and respect, and he's a guy that has already done a great job and put us in a position to succeed, even though we didn't do it.”
Going forward, Mickelson is part of a newly formed, six-man Ryder Cup committee, along with Sprague, Bevacqua, Paul Levy, Love and Tiger Woods, with the latter sharing his thoughts in a statement.
He said: “I want to congratulate Davis on his selection. I have great respect for him as a person, player and captain.
I know he’ll do an outstanding job leading the 2016 US team. I’m proud of what the task force accomplished and we are all fully committed to winning back the Ryder Cup in 2016 and beyond.”
In some other changes, a new points system has been developed and the timing of the captain’s picks has altered, which seems to have gone down well with Jordan Spieth, who made is Ryder Cup debut last year.
Last week’s news about Davis Love’s expected captaincy came as a surprise to most, with three-time Presidents Cup winner Couples and 2008 Ryder Cup winning captain Paul Azinger thought to be more clear contenders for the role.
But Couples, who is good friends with Davis Love, said there were no hard feelings about the 1997 US PGA champion becoming captain.
Speaking to GolfChannel at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC last weekend, Couples said: “If it wasn’t Davis, I might have a different attitude towards this. But he’s been my friend for 30 years and I’m very happy for him.
“I was shooting to give myself a shot at being captain. I feel it’s a great honour to be a part of and maybe, a couple of years down the line, I’ll have another shot.”
Davis Love will go head-to-head at Hazeltine in 2016 with good friend and fellow one-time major winner Darren Clarke, who was named European Ryder Cup captain last week.
Davis Love named Team USA captain :: Your thoughts
Now we’ve officially got our two captains, who do you think will lift the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.