Davis Love was in the midst of explaining how, “in hindsight,” he might have done some things differently to prevent the epic collapse his U.S. Ryder Cup team had just suffered, when Phil Mickelson interrupted his captain in mid-sentence
“Hold on, Davis,” Mickelson said as reporters were asking Love why he benched his hottest tandem, Lefty and Keegan Bradley, in Saturday afternoon’s four-ball match. “Hold on one sec, Davis.”
Mickelson was keen for Monday-morning quarterbacks to understand that the two teammates -- who went 3-0 as a tandem in two foursomes and one four-ball event but lost both of their Sunday singles matches -- opted out of Saturday’s p.m. session to rest up for the following day.
“Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing in the afternoon, and we said on the first tee, we are going to put everything we have into this one match, because we are not playing the afternoon,” said Mickelson, who partnered with Bradley to tie a record for biggest winning margin in team competition when they beat Lee Westwood/Luke Donald, 7 and 6. “And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and I said, ‘listen, you're seeing our best; you cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you're going to get pressure, because we're playing so good.’”
Love, who acknowledged that other members of the team did ask him to send the Mickelson/Bradley duo out again on Saturday afternoon, supported his player.
“Some of the guys back in the team room and the guys on my radio were calling for Keegan and Phil. So I rode out to 10 and popped under the ropes and Phil came running over and started yelling at me, ‘we are putting the most effort into this, we are giving you our all and we are going to win this match and do not play me in the afternoon,’” Love related. “He was really adamant that he did not think that they should play in the afternoon, that some of the other guys would have a lot more energy and would play well.”
Bradley, whose youthful exuberance Mickelson could not help but catch and who was eager to play another 36 holes after cruising to two victories on Friday, said on Saturday he would go along with the directives of his elders. The 26-year-old who infused Mickelson with energy and enthusiasm he had seemed to lack during the season, conceded that sitting was probably the way to go.
“I told them I'd do whatever [Mickelson and Love] wanted,” he told reporters after his and Mickelson’s historic Saturday victory, adding that he was on board with ensuring everyone was ready for Sunday. “I'm putting so much emotion into my rounds that it's probably a good thing that I'll be rested up for tomorrow's singles.”
In the end, the Mickelson/Bradley team did not take the field on Saturday afternoon, the U.S. went 2-2 in that session, and the rest is Ryder Cup history.
However The Decision played out, it was clear that Love would mull over that, and many other, determinations for some time to come.
“It was a tough call,” he said about. “We had a lot of tough calls.”