MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) — The admiration Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal have for each other started long before they were appointed Ryder Cup captains.
Olazabal was locked in a duel with Greg Norman on the back nine of the 1999 Masters when he pulled away, only to discover that Love was making a late charge with a bogey-free back nine that featured a chip-in from 25 feet behind the green on the par-3 16th. Olazabal pulled away, however, and won by two shots.
The next year after the Champions Dinner at Augusta National, Olazabal noticed there were a few extra bottles of wine.
He had them sent to Love.
"He felt like he had beaten me from the year before, and I should have gotten something out of it," Love said.
Love made his Ryder Cup debut in 1993 at The Belfry, teaming with Tom Kite against Seve Ballesteros and Olazabal, the most successful partnership in the history of the matches. The Americans handed the "Spanish Armada" one of only two defeats in their Ryder Cup career. Just his luck, Love had to face them twice more, both losses.
"Kite and Seve were bashing away, and we were on the side trying to be friendly," Love said. "We always had that respect for each other. There's a lot of connections. I was very pleased when I found out he was going to be the captain."
Of all the details that go on behind the scenes in what Love refers to as a "very structured" event, he said there has never been "one problem, one controversy."
"It speaks to what kind of guy he is," Love said.
One of the discussions was about clothing. The Americans wear a collection of red, white and blue, though it doesn't have full ownership of those colors. All indications are that the U.S. team will have red shirts for Sunday, presumably so that it won't clash with European blue.
Olazabal is said to want blue for Sunday as a tribute to what Ballesteros typically wore in the final round. Ballesteros died in May 2011, making this the first Ryder Cup without the great Spaniard who was so responsible in reviving the matches.
"He was very understanding of it, and I'll say no more at the moment," Olazabal said of the team colors and conversations with Love.
Make no mistake, though. Both teams are desperate to hold that 17-inch gold trophy that Olazabal brought over on the plane from London. Europe has won six of the past eight times in the Ryder Cup, including a 14½-13½ win in Wales two years ago.
Tiger Woods said last week that captains take on the personality they showed as players, and Love would be quick to agree with that, especially when it comes to Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion who fought through injuries.
"You know he's competitive, and it's going to be competitive," Love said. "But it's organized, friendly, cordial, respectful. That's how it should be."
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