An emotional Davis Love III was introduced Thursday as the next American captain of the Ryder Cup, pledging not to get in the way of the 12 players who will be responsible for winning the cup back from Europe.
"I'm a players' captain," Love said at Medinah Country Club, where the 2012 matches will be held. "I'll try to get them what they need to be successful. I'm not going to tell the best players in the world how to play golf. I'm not going to read their putts. A good leader knows he's got a great team."
The announcement wraps up a week that put the Ryder Cup in the news about 18 months before the next shot is struck. Europe, which won the gold trophy in Wales last October, appointed two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal as the captain this week.
It was the second time Love has been showcased by the PGA of America, and both times he fought tears. The other occasion was in 1997 at Winged Foot, when he won the PGA Championship and broke down thinking about his father, Davis Love Jr., a longtime PGA professional who died in a plane crash early in Love's career.
"Now to be named Ryder Cup captain is a thrill I never thought I would have," said Love, his voice choking and eyes filling with tears. "I'd love to share that with my father. I know somehow I am. ... There's not a tour player out there that plays one tour event or six Ryder Cups that doesn't have a PGA professional that led them to that position."
Love, a 20-time winner on the PGA Tour, played on six Ryder Cup teams. His first three matches, with Tom Kite as his partner, were against Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros, the "Spanish Armada" that formed one of the most daunting teams in Ryder Cup history. Love won that first match, but never beat Olazabal again. They never played each other in singles.
Olazabal won his second green jacket in 1999, and while his duel that day was with Greg Norman, the Spaniard held off a late charge by Love, who was the runner-up.
Love recalled that Olazabal brought a special Spanish wine to serve at the Masters' Champions Dinner that next year, and he gave Love the leftover bottles.
"I'll always remember his generosity," Love said. "He's always been a good friend. It'll be a tough competition. On Thursday we'll be friends, and Sunday night we'll still be friends."
Love said he would consider playing if he earned his way on the team, although a U.S. captain has never qualified for the team in recent decades. Love last qualified for the team in 2004, when Europe routed the Americans at Oakland Hills.