With two months until the Presidents Cup, Davis Love III is back on the PGA Tour – as a competitor, yes, but also as the U.S. captain looking to do some reconnaissance.
Making his first Tour start since April, Love is in the field this week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Perhaps not coincidentally, he has landed in one of the featured groups, alongside Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young, both of whom will likely be first-time participants at Quail Hollow in late September.
“It’s a good week for me to be out, and I’ve learned a lot already,” Love told reporters Wednesday at Detroit Golf Club.
Love played a practice round with Zalatoris, will tee it up the first two days alongside the former Wake Forest products, and then is planning to have dinners with team hopefuls each of the next few nights.
It’s been an unusual few months for the U.S. captain as the Tour continues to deal with the fallout from more than two dozen players leaving for the rival LIV circuit. Those players are indefinitely suspended from the Tour and, thus, ruled ineligible for the biennial matches.
Talor Gooch would have been in line for a potential captain’s pick had he remained on Tour. Jason Kokrak was 15th in the standings but will make his LIV debut this week at Trump Bedminster. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed also are Team USA mainstays who will miss this year’s competition, scheduled for Sept. 22-25.
The International team, led by Trevor Immelman, has been hit even harder by defections, with Abe Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen among those who are ruled ineligible.
“It’s unfortunate that we look at a list and we have to skip over,” Love said. “Obviously it’s been a little bit harder on Trevor than on me, but I know the guys that are vying for the team now are super committed to the PGA Tour and are very excited about the Presidents Cup.
"When we get to the Presidents Cup, it’s going to be 12 guys that are ready to go and play. And it’s business as usual for our assistant captains, our stats team and the players. It’s business as usual, but it is a little bit of a distraction.”
On the topic of assistant captains, Love has already named Zach Johnson, the 2023 Ryder Cup captain, and Fred Couples as part of his support staff. Love said that he could name two more vice captains as early as next week, and he was asked whether Tiger Woods – the victorious playing captain in 2019 – was interested in participating, in some capacity.
“I think it’s just like his golf game probably – he has a desire to play, but can he actually do it?” Love said. “He had a lot of fun sitting back and watching the Ryder Cup [in 2021] with Justin [Thomas’] dad. I think he likes that role a little bit more, and anything big that I do around the Tour, there’s a short list of guys that I’m going to ask for advice from, and he’s one of them, for sure.”
The U.S. team will be finalized during the FedExCup playoffs. Six players will automatically qualify, then Love will round out his 12-man roster with six captain’s picks.
Currently, the six automatic qualifiers would be Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Zalatoris, Billy Horschel and Tom Hoge occupy Nos. 7-12 in the standings.