Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Ryder Cup: Don't blame Davis Love for sitting Phil Mickelson-Keegan Bradley team

MEDINAH, Ill. — U.S. captain Davis Love will take some flak for benching Team Terrific (Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley) in favor of Team Tiger (Woods and Steve Stricker) on Saturday afternoon for four-ball.

The Terrifics went 2-0 Friday, and Saturday morning in foursomes they tied a Ryder Cup mark for largest margin of victory with a 7-and-6 blowout of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

The Tigers — despite Woods' electric back nines — finished 0-3 after a comeback from 4 down against Donald and Sergio Garcia fell 1 short of getting a half-point.

But before anyone goes hating on Love, they should know this: Mickelson asked out.

"Phil had a plan, too," Love said. "Phil wanted to play three (team) matches and then be ready for singles (today). He was adamant. He said: 'Don't put me back in. We're ready to sit out.' They all understand: You have to be ready for (today)."

Love became the first U.S. captain since 1979 to sit each of his players for at least one match before the final day.

Woods, 36, said he didn't mind sitting out in the morning: "I put so much effort into that last match (Friday) afternoon, and I was pretty spent. It was nice to get a little bit of rest. … I'm not young anymore."

Woods and Stricker lost Friday afternoon 1-up to Nicolas Colsaerts, who beat them without any help from partner Lee Westwood, making an eagle and eight birdies.

motivational tools: Love and European captain Jose Maria Olazabal played in the 1999 "Battle of Brookline," won by the United States after it entered the final day with a four-point deficit, the same the Europeans have today.

For today's singles matches, Olazabal is borrowing the "clothes-make-the-man" motivational ploy U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw used at Brookline. The Americans came out that Sunday in shirts emblazoned with team pictures of all the past winning U.S. sides. Olazabal decided to outfit his team today in the navy slacks and sweater and white polo shirt that became the trademark of the late Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal's mentor and Europe's greatest and most beloved Ryder Cup player. Ballesteros' silhouette will adorn the shirts.

Love also is stealing a page from Crenshaw's book. He won't show his team videos featuring golf fan Pamela Anderson and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders pleading for a win. But he has invited back as a speaker former President George W. Bush, who was a candidate at the time and read William Barret Travis' letter from a besieged Alamo with the powerful kicker "victory or death."

UP IN THE AIR: Rather than being annoyed by the series of pro-European messages written in the sky above Medinah Country Club, Love hoped Irish bookmaker Paddy Power would do them again today.

"We texted back and forth about it … and decided, 'Hey, it's working good for us; we keep winning holes,' " Love said. "I'm just disappointed that they stopped, because if they'd have kept doing it all afternoon, maybe our roll would have kept going."

Paddy Power asked fans to send Twitter messages of support to Europe's team, and a fleet of skywriters "painted" the best ones above Medinah. Some were supportive ("We Believe"), others were clever ("Rory's Gonna Getcha"), and others were, well, off-color.

Trivia: The Americans for the first time have not lost any of the four sessions since the Cup switched to the current format in 1979. … Bradley became the first rookie since Garcia in 1999 to win his opening three matches. He also is the first American rookie to go 3-0 in team matches since Loren Roberts in 1995.

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