Davis Love III, in the opinion of Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, had his chance as U.S. Ryder Cup captain in 2012, failed, and should "pass the baton" to someone more deserving and qualified to lead the charge in 2016 at Hazeltine.
Love, reportedly the unanimous choice of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and the other members of the PGA of America Ryder Cup task force, does not deserve a do-over because "he didn’t get the job done," Chamblee said Thursday during his network’s pre-Honda Classic telecast.
Love held the reins in 2012 when the Europeans rebounded from a 10-6 deficit heading into Sunday singles and clipped the home team at Medinah, 14.5-13.5. It was a devastating loss, but not nearly so disastrous as the one in 2014, when Tom Watson and his team went down to a 16.5-11.5 defeat at Gleneagles.
It was the bitterness of the Scottish loss -- and Mickelson’s public rebuke of Watson’s leadership -- that spawned the 11-man panel established to design a framework for how to pick players and resolve other issues for 2016 and beyond. In a blistering attack on Mickelson back in September, Chamblee tore Lefty -- and by extension, an absent Tiger -- a new one.
You can't see him, but Tom Watson is under there thanks to Phil Mickelson. pic.twitter.com/YZ43uv1VZe— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) September 28, 2014
"Phil Mickelson, along with the best players of that era, have so corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup for their fellow competitors by not having records anywhere near what they should, given their rank in the game," Chamblee said at the time. "If you’re looking for a reason why the United States continues to lose, you just saw it, you saw it in one man -- Phil Mickelson."
Given how he blasted Mickelson, who complained that players had no say in the way the uncommunicative Watson ruled the roost, Chamblee likely had Capt. Tom in mind when he ticked off the "critical mistakes" Love made in his first go-round as skipper.
Making Jim Furyk a wild-card pick and leading the matches with him and Cup rookie Brandt Snedeker in foursomes (they lost) were errors, according to Chamblee. What really rankled the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open winner, though, was Love’s acquiescence to Mickelson’s wishes that he and his red-hot partner, Keegan Bradley, sit out Saturday afternoon.
"You cannot turn that [decision] over to your player," Chamblee contended. "A captain is supposed to be detached from that and make decisions that matter. I think [Love] made several decisions that week that were not the right decisions."
As enthusiasts of the biennial tournament well know, the Mickelson-Bradley duo was wiping the field with the Euros, having compiled a 3-0 record before Phil requested a breather.
There was no guarantee that a twosome other than Furyk/Snedeker would have won on Friday, or that the hottest players in Illinois would have continued their scorched-earth policy in Saturday’s four-ball (each lost his singles match).
Chamblee, however, believes the Americans would not next year be seeking their first win since 2008 if Love had exerted his leadership.
"He had a 10-6 lead," he said. "He should have had a 12-4 lead, or 13-3 lead."
Chamblee, by the way, was one of many in the golf community who hoped Larry Nelson would get the 2014 (and then the 2016) job. He was unhappy that a high-ranking PGA official assured him two years ago that the three-time major champion had the votes, only to see Watson get the nod.
"The honor is too big to give somebody who’s only won one major championship that job, twice," said Chamblee. "I don’t think he got the job done."
SB Nation presents: The fallout from the 2014 Ryder Cup