American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love would love to see Tiger Woods taking on Rory McIlroy in the Ryder Cup singles in Chicago next month.
The two golfing superstars never faced each other on McIlroy’s debut at Celtic Manor two years ago, but the morning after the 23-year-old Irishman’s runaway USPGA victory Love said: “I’d want to go watch that one.
“It would be nice to be able to rig a couple like that for Tiger and Rory – he would probably like that. It would be a great match. I’m sure they both would relish that – we have got some guys on our team that I’m sure would love to take him on because you want to play the best.
“You want to play a guy that’s hot and I know Tiger or Phil (Mickelson) or any of those guys would love to try it.”
In Wales, McIlroy twice faced Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink and then, with Graeme McDowell as his partner, took on Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan before his singles clash with Cink. It was halved.
Love and opposite number Jose Maria Olazabal will put in their line-ups separately for each of the sessions, but with McIlroy the world number one and only current major champion on the European side it would be no surprise to see him sent off first.
In six appearances – only one of them a team victory – Woods has only gone off in the opening singles once. He beat Paul Casey 3&2 in Detroit in 2004.
On the other occasions he was placed third in 1997 (a 4&2 defeat by Costantino Rocca), fifth (a 3&2 win over Andrew Coltart), last (a half with Jesper Parnevik when Europe had already won), fourth (a 3&2 win over Robert Karlsson in Ireland) and eighth (a 4&3 victory over Francesco Molinari).
Love described McIlroy as “one of the best players in the world”, but is not prepared to go further for the time being.
“He’s one of the best with Luke Donald and Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson,” he maintained. “When he gets ahead he’s pretty amazing. “I think that’s the most incredible thing about Rory – give him a chance. You can tell he’s caged up and ready to go and ready to bust loose. He seems to have that ability that when it’s a big tournament he’s right there just waiting to break loose.
“A lot like Tiger – the bigger the stage, the better he plays.”
As for McIlroy’s possible influence on next month’s match Love added: “They are excited to have him again on the team.
“He’s a great young man and he’s very respectful. He’s a lot like Rickie Fowler – they are wise beyond their years and very mature.
“I know he’s going to be a very big part of their team. Now he’s got the experience and knows what it’s all about he will be tough to beat obviously.
“He’s like Tiger, becoming a leader for them in what he does off the golf course.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about him in the team room and he was a lot of fun Monday night in Wales – obviously he was in a pretty good mood!”
Love completed his backroom room team for next month by naming Scott Verplank and Jeff Suman as his final two assistant captains.
They join Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert for the match at Medinah on Chicago on September 28-30, when Europe under Jose Maria Olazabal’s leadership will try to retain the trophy they won back at Celtic Manor two years ago.
Olazabal has yet to name any of his four assistants, preferring to wait until he knows certain individuals cannot make the side on points.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke are thought to be front-runners, with McGinley also being the favourite to succeed Olazabal as skipper for the 2014 contest at Gleneagles.
Love also gave strong hints yesterday that Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk will be three of his four wild cards and that Rickie Fowler may edge Dustin Johnson for the final spot.
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