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Love Affair With Chicago

January 26th, 2011

by Ted Bishop

Let the record state that on January 20, 2011 the Medinah Country Club was covered by several inches of snow and the white ground cover was protected by single digit temperatures. Thanks to the towering trees that line the Medinah landscape, even the untrained eye could manage to see where the fairways stake their claim. The greens were visible only because of orange snow fence that guarded their boundaries. This great club, which has been the site of many of golf’s major championships, appeared to be hibernating for the winter.

But, as we all know, looks can be deceiving. Inside the spacious Medinah clubhouse Davis Love III was being introduced by the PGA of America as the next Captain of the United States Ryder Cup team. Medinah CC will be the site of golf’s most celebrated and dramatic competition in the fall of 2012.     

Chicago has long been known as “The Second City”. The term was coined by author A.J. Liebling in his 1952 book entitled ‘Chicago: the Second City’ and was born from the fact that Chicago was the second most populated city in the U.S. (behind New York City) in 1952.

Over the past 50 years, Chicago is a sports town that has been starving for winners. Sports fans across America might argue that Chicago has earned the nickname “Second City” just based on the performance of its sports franchises versus its bigger brother from the Big Apple.

Let’s face it, in the past five decades, although the Michael Jordan led Bulls did win six championships, the Bears and Blackhawks have won only twice; the White Sox have claimed a single championship and we all know about the Cubs’ failures.

On Thursday, the City of Chicago adopted Davis Love III as one of its new sons. Clearly, these people are embracing the 2012 Ryder Cup and a U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup will be placed on Chicago’s mantel with those other championships, and rightfully so.

Love was annointed into the Windy City family by the some of the best that this city has to offer. He was honored late Thursday afternoon at a Michigan Avenue reception which featured Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub and Hall of Famer, who said “Let’s play two!” or was that let’s play 36? Banks was joined by Paul Kernocko, captain of the White Sox, who led the Southsiders to a World Series title in 2005.

Also on hand, was Dan Hampton, defensive end with the 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle Champion Bears; Dennis Savard, hockey great  and coach of the 2010 Stanley Cup Blackhawks and Scottie Pippin, who was Jordan’s sidekick on those great Bulls teams. These five Chicago legends presented the Ryder Cup Captain with a #12 jersey from their respective team. In addition, each offered some advice to Love on how to win a championship and capture the hearts of Chicago fans.

Banks told Love, “Have fun. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t take it too seriously.”

Kernocko said, “Keep your team out of downtown Chicago and get the Europeans to enjoy the downtown!”

Savard said, “Coach your young players differently than your older stars.”

Pippin said, “I can’t forgive you for giving Michael his first set of clubs when you were both at the University of North Carolina. I will never catch up to him in golf.”

And maybe Hampton gave Love the best advice, “Chicago fans will support you, no matter what. But, they will like you better- if you win!”      

Make no mistake, Chicago is taking ownership of the 2012 Ryder Cup. This is a big deal to the “Second City”. It’s like Hertz versus Avis. Chicago is going to try real hard- harder than anyone else, to help D L III bring a champion to its City. This is a classic example of the Midwest mentality, which is loaded with sincerity and genuineness. Even though the Ryder Cup is over 600 days away, Chicago and its people made it clear to everyone in golf that they would do their part to bring Samuel Ryder’s powerful, little cup back home.

The day got started when Don Larson, (not the baseball player) Medinah’s chairman of the Ryder Cup, proudly presented Davis and Robin Love with an honorary membership to the storied country club. Breakfast and lunch were served at Medinah before and after the press conference. Medinah’s chef prepared exquisite southern cuisine, recommended by Love. Let me say, the chef passed the test with flying colors. The buffet line in the 2012 team room will be something to look forward to.

All day long, Love proved why he was the easy choice for the PGA of America as its next captain. He is articulate, warm, embracing and appreciative of what it means to assume this task as Ryder Cup captain. The son of a former PGA member, Love wept as he talked about his dad’s influence on his career and what it would have meant for Davis Love Jr. to see his son in this role. The elder Love was tragically killed in a 1988 plane crash. He was a renowned golf instructor.

Love spoke passionately about his relationship with Jose Maria Olazabal, who was announced as Europe’s captain earlier in the week. “Over the next couple of years it will be me against Jose in the media. Once our teams are picked, it will be about them. Jose Maria and I will be competitors on the eve of the Ryder Cup and we will be friends on Sunday night when it is over.”

2012 will be a special Ryder Cup in many ways. No city is more deserving of a winner than Chicago, which has a long and storied golf history that includes regular Tour stops as well as major championships. Thursday was the beginning of a new sporting relationship featuring Davis Love III and the City of Chicago.

No matter the outcome of the 2012 Ryder Cup, when it comes to Chicago, Love will most certainly be saying, “This Is My Kind of Town!”