Love named USA captain

The PGA of America announced that Love would take the role for the second time during a press conference at their headquarters at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens – venue for this week’s star-studded Honda Classic.

Love has been given the chance to atone for the astonishing defeat to Europe in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012. The 50-year-old was being hailed as a tactical maestro after guiding his team to a 10-6 victory over the first two days, but the plaudits turned into heavy criticism 24 hours later following Europe’s remarkable fightback in the singles.

Tom Lehman, who led the team at the K Club in 2006, has been appointed as one of Love’s vice-captains, with another three – one former captain and two with previous Ryder Cup experience – to be chosen at a later date.

It was also confirmed that changes have been made to the qualifying criteria, with the number of captain’s picks being increased from three to four and the deadline extended.

The top eight in the qualifying standings will be set following the first event of next season’s FedExCup play-offs, and Love will announce his first three wildcard selections after the BMW Championship the following week.

His final pick will be announced after the Tour Championship in Atlanta to give Love the best chance to select in-form players – an option that was not available to Tom Watson last year as the likes of FedExCup champion Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk hit form too late to be considered for Gleneagles.

Thrilled

“I am thrilled to be the Team USA Captain and represent our country as we work??to win back the Ryder Cup,” said Love. “It is a great honour to be in the position to help build the team, but our mission doesn’t end there. What we accomplish in 2016 at Hazeltine must serve as the foundation for future USA Ryder Cup teams.

“As the son of a PGA Professional and representing all PGA members, I am very??proud to accept this responsibility and eager to get started. I am very pleased that Tom Lehman has accepted to serve as a??vice-captain, bringing his outstanding experience and the respect of all players??to our next team.

“Tom has been a trusted friend who I can call upon to provide valuable advice??as we go about preparing Team USA.”

The USA’s third straight defeat in the competition at Gleneagles last year prompted the PGA of America to set up a Ryder Cup “task force”, charged with the responsibility of selecting the next captain and introducing changes to the qualifying criteria.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will remain on a six-man committee that will assist Love and Lehman in their preparations for the 2016 contest in Minnesota.

Love made his Ryder Cup debut as a player in 1993 and played in six contests, winning nine of his 26 matches, losing 12 and halving five.

He holed the winning putt on his debut as he hit back from one down with two to play to snatch victory over Costantino Rocca, and he lost only one of his six singles encounters.

In his final playing appearance in 2004, he halved his match with close friend Darren Clarke, who was appointed as the European captain last week.??

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