The next Ryder Cup captain? Need to ‘call Tiger,’ says Davis Love III
The 2023 Ryder Cup may be just a few days in our rearview, but the discourse around the next one is already beginning. Rory McIlroy called his shot, saying Europe will win on the road. Organizers in New York are already designing the look of the 1st tee grandstands. And as for Team USA, the search for a captain has begun.
At least the talk about the next captain has already begun.
Among the players taking part in this week’s Furyk and Friends event on the Champions Tour are a few of Team USA’s vice captains. Steve Stricker helped explain the factors that helped Europe win in Italy, like slower-than-usual green speeds. Davis Love III blamed the 1st hole, where the Euros always seemed to take a lead.
Rather bluntly, a reporter at the event posed a question that will eventually be on everyone’s mind: Who is the next captain? The decision will likely be made public sometime in the next six months. It also begins with Tiger Woods, Love said.
“That’s a great question,” Love said. “We’ve got to call Tiger Woods and ask him. I think if he wants — obviously Tiger’s into a lot of stuff right now, but it’s kind of his call, I would say. I hate to put pressure on him, but it’s kind of his call. Obviously with some guys out, he’s the next logical choice.”
Woods has never captained a Ryder Cup, serving as a vice captain in 2016 when he wasn’t fit to play. Woods was a playing captain in the 2019 Presidents Cup down in Australia, and in dominant fashion, too. Woods went 3-0-0 as the Americans came back to beat Ernie Els’ International team.
As for Woods’ thoughts on the matter, we likely won’t hear until late November or early December when Woods would likely host press conferences at his event, the Hero World Challenge. Woods only played two tournaments in 2023, making the cut at both, but had surgery on his ankle in April after being forced to withdraw from the Masters. He hasn’t competed anywhere since.
The captaincy is a big deal, and Woods taking it on would make it an even bigger deal. But Love knows better than anyone how taxing it can be. He just watched Zach Johnson go through a two-year gauntlet of media appearances, photo shoots, international travel, etc.
“You know, I remember a time when Tiger and Phil watched me do it and went, ‘Holy cow, I don’t know if we want to put that much time and effort into it,’” Love said. “It takes a lot out of you. Hopefully we can talk him into it.”
The next question pertained not to Woods but to whoever Woods might select as vice captains. Johnson, Stricker and Fred Couples were Woods’ vice captains at the 2019 Presidents Cup. Those three names were all involved as captains or vice captains last week, a trend that Love thinks might need to change.
How important is it to start bringing new people into the mix?
“It’s important. Look at Zach, you know? We thought Zach could play in Paris, right, and he was on the bubble, and now we had him a few times as assistant and he was a great captain,” Love said. “Webb Simpson last year at Presidents Cup, we had Stewart Cink, and both of them are going to be all-star assistant captains or future captains. They need to get rid of guys like Davis Love and probably Fred Couples and move on. I’m lobbying for it.”
Lobbying to whom, exactly? Love may need to lobby a bit harder to his friends, who keep bringing him back into the fold.
“It’s incredibly hard. I told a few people over at the Ryder Cup, I said, ‘Man, this is my last time.’ And they were like no, no, no, and I’m like yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s time. I told that to Tiger in 2019, I said I’m done. He said, ‘Yeah, you’re right, probably time, who do we think we ought to get, young guys?’ And then Stricker brought me right back in the next year.”
Clearly it’s more than just lead captain that needs some consideration. The decision for Team USA’s top leadership spot is typically announced early in the new year.