PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. – The U.S. Ryder Cup team traditionally starts to take shape at the Memorial when the top players are invited to one of the cottages at Muirfield Village to be fitted for uniforms. Davis Love III wants to get an earlier start in his second stint as captain.
Love said his first "team meeting" would be in two weeks at the Honda Classic for at least 20 players, maybe twice that many, depending on who is playing.
"We're going to have a dinner during the week of Honda, and then we'll probably have two or three more," Love said Wednesday. "So I'm going to be a little bit more focused this time on the start, work my way through the points list and make sure that we've got everybody covered — not wait until the Memorial Tournament when we have a clothes fitting to talk to the guys for the first time."
Love said he is paying so much more attention to the points, even eight months before the matches at Hazeltine, that he caught a mistake in the standings recently before they were published.
He said Tom Lehman, one of his vice captains, recalled having his first team dinner at the Bridgestone Invitational, just over six weeks from the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland.
"That's too late for us now. We want to get ahead of the game," Love said.
Love also said another vice captain, Tiger Woods, suggested getting together away from the course, perhaps a fishing trip to hang out and talk shop.
"I think if we all get to know each other a little bit better in March and April and May, rather than waiting until August and September, we're going to be better off," he said.
Love said the two toughest losses he ever endured as a player at the Ryder Cup was in 1995 at Oak Hill and in 1997 at Valderrama. It was more about the captains than his record.
Lanny Wadkins was his captain at Oak Hill, and Love recalled an era when both teams have a dinner after the matches.
"I saw with Lanny and ... it was a very quiet dinner," he said. "You know Lanny. So excited about it, so into it. He put everything he could into it for a year-and-a-half, and then to have it all unravel right there at the end, I was really, really disappointed for him."
Love felt the same way about Tom Kite and his captaincy two years later. Love, Woods and Justin Leonard were major champions in 1997, and they combined to go 1-9-3 in the matches. Love lost all four of his matches.
"Tiger and Justin and I were playing so well, and we went over there and none of us played well," he said.
He at least was able to use that experience when Love was captain in Medinah and Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit. He recalled Brandt Snedeker telling him that "I owe you one" because of the loss.
"I said, 'You don't owe me one,"' Love said. "If we're starting to add up who owes who, I owe Kite and Wadkins and a lot of captains."