With the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska still almost a year away, neither U.S. captain Davis Love III nor European counterpart Darren Clarke pretend they can see the future of what might be.
But they promise golf fans this: There will be no repeat of the kerfuffle that soiled this month’s Solheim Cup in Germany.
Europe won an important Saturday four-balls match by golf’s rules, but lost it in the court of public opinion among golfers whose game’s bedrock is etiquette and sportsmanship.
Europe’s Suzann Pettersen’s refusal to concede a putt on the match’s 17th hole ignited a firestorm on social media that led Pettersen to use the word “sorry” four times in an online apology. The U.S. stormed back in Sunday’s singles competition to win the competition.
Longtime pals Love and Clarke vowed Tuesday at Hazeltine that next September’s match will mirror their friendship.
“This Ryder Cup will be played in the manner in which Davis and I respect each other,” Clarke said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “We’ve been friends for such a long time, I hold Davis in the highest regard. He has been a good friend, but probably one of the best gentlemen in the sport. … The Solheim Cup was an unfortunate thing. What Suzann did was correct in the Rules of Golf, but in the spirit of the game it was wrong. And she admitted that with hindsight. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.”
As far as foresight goes, Love said he and Clarke will “set the tone” for their 12-man teams with messages sent this next year.
“Something will come up during the three days that is uncomfortable,” Love said. “But we’ll handle it as gentlemen and in a sportsmanlike way. It will be fair and competitive and fun.”
Love’s visit to Hazeltine was one of many he’ll make in the next year to Minnesota, home of the U.S. assistant captain — a guy named Tom Lehman — that Love and the PGA of America picked to help provide even more of a home-field advantage.
“I hope it’s a big advantage,” Love said. “Tom has already been instrumental in a lot of decisions we made up here. He knows the lay of the land and knows the people. So I’ve got the inside track on not only the golf course and the fans, but the great places to eat and have found my way around town and tickets to all the sports games.
“Tom is a great connection. We are going to rely on him a lot.”
The way he likes it
Somebody asked Love on Tuesday if Hazeltine provides more of an opportunity to grow the rough long after it was relatively short when Europe beat the Americans at Medinah near Chicago in 2012.
“It offers the opportunity to mow it down as well,” said Love, who as home captain will have a say in course setup. “I don’t like rough. I hit in it a lot. … I like more opportunities for birdies. I think it’s more exciting. This is a match-play event. We want to see winning birdies, not putting 10-footers for par all day.”
• Clarke on his weekend visit to Minnesota along with other Ryder Cup Europe officials: “We’ve been looked after at our every whim. We’ve enjoyed being here, wonderful stuff. Thank you very much for that.”
• Love on the prospect of neither Phil Mickelson nor Tiger Woods being on the 2016 American team: “Yes, it would be hard to imagine.”
Last day for ticket lottery
Wednesday is the last day to register for a lottery that will sell and distribute general-public tickets for the 2016 Ryder Cup. Visit rydercup.com to register.