US Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III hailed the eight players that secured an automatic place in the team that will take on Europe at Medinah after their qualification race culminated at the US PGA Championship.
Speaking at a press conference the day following the climax of the season’s final Major, Love also announced his remaining two selections for Vice-Captains, as Scott Verplank and Jeff Sluman were confirmed to serve alongside the already-endorsed Mike Hulbert and Fred Couples.
Love also discussed those just outside of the automatic spots and therefore in contention for a Captain’s Pick – which the 48 year old will announce in New York City on September 4 – but started by declaring how thrilled he was that the waiting was almost over.
“It’s getting down to the wire of my two‑year journey as Captain. Now it gets exciting,” said Love, who was on-site at Kiawah Island where he narrowly missed the cut.
“I think my wife, Robin and I, have worked hard with the PGA staff to get ready for The Ryder Cup, and now we realise we can start talking more about golf. It's an exciting time.
“I know that there are eight guys that are very happy as we are that the points list has finally concluded and we are very excited about this top eight. We are excited about the top 20, frankly. The guys have been playing very, very well.”
The North Carolina native also revealed he had texted all of the eight to make the team offering them his congratulations and said that he looked forward to “working with them over the next few weeks on getting going, getting them more and more excited.”
Love on… The Eight
“Number One on our list, Tiger Woods. He won the points list, as he's used to doing. I was asked thousands of times if I would pick Tiger if he didn't make it but I knew I wouldn't have that problem and even if I did I probably would have picked him.
“But if he plays enough tournaments we knew he was going to make enough points and obviously he's had a great year with three wins.
“He's a great leader in our team room and we are thrilled to have him and he's very instrumental in a lot of things that have happened to bring our team together over the last few Cups and he's already been a great help to me.
“I look forward to working with him a lot more over the next few weeks. “
“He’s had a great two years with his Major win and he was a lot of fun in Wales. He and Rickie Fowler were the team clowns; they had a lot of fun.
“They loosened up our team, and we look very much forward to having Bubba on the team. He's going to be a lot of fun and obviously he's playing very well.”
“Our first rookie will be Jason Dufner. Obviously since the PGA Championship last year he's been one of the best players in the world. He's had a great couple years and has a quiet confidence. He's a guy that I really look forward to seeing him playing in match play.”
“Keegan's first Ryder Cup, but he's had a great run the last couple years, as well. Great defence of his PGA Championship; he was right there all the way and had a great week.
“He plays a lot with Phil [Mickelson] and with Rickie [Fowler] and Dustin [Johnson] and those guys and they compete a lot in their practice rounds and their games at home and I think that's really helped them grow as players and it will help them in match play.”
“I've gotten to know Webb over the last few years very well. He and his wife, Dowd, are very popular on our tour; they are both great leaders, again, on and off the golf course.
“He'll be a great addition in his Ryder Cup debut and he's obviously been playing very, very well in big tournaments.”
“Zach’s third Ryder Cup and our first hometown guy. I'm very fortunate to have a couple of guys for me right down the street on the team so we can get them a little extra work between now and then to help me get ready.
“Zach's been one of the most consistent guys on Tour for a long time. He's had a great season this year. He's been right there in the running and obviously had a great finish at the John Deere in a play-off and showing, like a lot of these guys, that they are playing very well under pressure and they are making putts down the stretch, winning play-offs, and that’s what you need.”
“Our other local favourite down at Sea Island; we are going to have a great cheering contingent in Chicago from Sea Island with all those guys.
“Matt is a great match‑play player; obviously winning the US Amateur a few years ago. He's played great every time he's had a chance in match play and looking forward to having him and Sybi on the team.”
“Last but not least is Phil Mickelson who is probably the most relieved. I know Phil has been grinding a little too hard to make the team; he wanted to make it on points.
“It's incredible, nine times straight he's made it on points. He's obviously been a big part of a lot of Ryder Cups and I'm going to lean heavily on him. We talked a lot in our two rounds and around the hotel last week about Ryder Cup and what he's meant to it and what he will mean to this team.”
Love on… potential picks
“I'm very nervous of the next three weeks of having to pick four more guys. But obviously if you go right down the list through 20 we have got a great group of guys to pick from and nobody's out of it.
“There's a lot of golf to be played. I know there are a few guys playing this week and then obviously with the start of the FedExCup Play-Offs, we are going to have a lot to watch. It's going to be very exciting and I look forward to September 4, picking four more guys.
“We are going to need some guys with experience; that's obvious. When you look at our Top 15 or 20, some names obviously jump out at you; Hunter [Mahan] has won twice this year, hard to believe he didn't get in there on points with the year he's had.
“And then [Steve] Stricker's moved up and [Jim] Furyk's moved up. You've got a lot of experience there, and Rickie [Fowler] has played. Brandt [Snedeker] been out a little bit, as Dustin [Johnson] has, with injury. So you've got to give them a little bit more credit for points.”
Love on…Vice Captains
“I have Mike Hulbert and Fred Couples announced as Assistant Captains but I would like to announce today Scott Verplank and Jeff Sluman have agreed to be assistant captains; two close friends of mine, guys that have been around the game a long time.
“Other than Scott, who has played Ryder Cup, we have got guys that have been Captains of teams and Assistant Captains. These are guys that I trust, they are close friends of mine.
“They are very engaged already and have given me a lot of great advice. In fact, Jeff Sluman's going to get over to Medinah this week for me and take a look around because we heard José Maria was over there, so I'm going to send Jeff over there to see what he's doing.
“Jeff and I spent a lot of time in Wales talking about this Ryder Cup already. He's been a big supporter of mine over the last two years, and great that we added him and Scott Verplank to our team. We are excited and ready to go. “
Love on… The European Team
“They have got a deep team, and Rory [McIlroy] is now getting like Tiger, becoming a leader for them, in what he does off the golf course.
“I've heard a lot of good things about him in the team room and he was a lot of fun Monday night in Wales; obviously he was in a pretty good mood! We have enjoyed getting to know him on our tour and I know he'll be a very big part of their defence.”