PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jack Nicklaus hosted Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and 22 players for dinner in his home and spoke about how to prepare for big tournaments, a most appropriate topic.
The Ryder Cup is on-ly six months away.
“We talked a little bit about preparing for major championships or for Ryder Cups, and so we all learned something for sure,” Love said.
Among those attending Thursday night were three of the vice captains – Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Tom Lehman, who flew in from Arizona and returned to Phoenix for a charity event Friday. Love said he invited the players who were in the top 40 in the U.S. standings.
“We got to see Tiger, Phil (Mickelson) and Jack, all in the same room, and talking to each other and asking each other questions,” Love said. “We had an awful lot of wins sitting there for some young guys to listen to. And it was just great to get everybody together.”
Love said it wasn’t the earliest that an American team started getting together. He said Lehman arranged for a dinner in August 2005 at the Bridgestone Invitational, more than a year before the matches began. Europe matched its largest margin of victory the next year in Ireland.
Love is in his second stint as captain, and he pledged to get the process started earlier this time. Even though only 12 players will be on the team, he said it was important for everyone to be involved as the Americans try to create a more stable culture for the biennial event.
“I told them, ‘Not all of you are going to make this team, but we want you to be bought into it,’” Love said.
However, Nicklaus did most of the talking.
Love said there were four tables for the guests, and Nicklaus stood among them to talk about a career that includes a record 18 major championships, six Ryder Cup appearances as a player and two as a captain.
“It was fun because you got to hear Jack’s thought on how he played his career,” Jimmy Walker said. “Jack talked about being prepared for it. If you want to win it, you’ve got to be prepared. The guys that were there, the tournaments won, the tournaments that are going to be won … it was a cool group.”
Most players who we-re not at the dinner are not playing the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, such as Jordan Spieth and Brandt Snedeker. Dustin Johnson attended, though he has a home in south Florida and is here ahead of Doral next week.
“Some it was just lea-rning a little bit more of his prep work, how he went about things,” Fowler said. “And then the confidence and belief that he had going into a tournament once he had that preparation done. He knew he was ready to play on Thursday.”
For some players, it was the first time they had seen Woods in months.
“I talked to him just a second,” Walker said. “I said, ‘Wow, you’re standing up and you’re not dead.’ He said, `I know. That’s how everybody thinks I am now – dead.’”
As for the menu?
Steak, lobster and Ja-ck Nicklaus ice cream for dessert.