PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Seven months from now, when the Ryder Cup is in full tension mode, it is unlikely that any of the U.S. team members will reflect on a February team dinner that was more about camaraderie than the competition.
But perhaps there is some good karma that will linger from the get-together on Thursday night hosted by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus at their North Palm Beach home.
There's nothing quite like getting to pick the brain of the Golden Bear.
— Davis Love III (@Love3d) February 26, 2016
"It was cool to listen to one of the greatest players of all time talk about how he prepared and the mindset he had in tournaments,'' said Billy Horschel, one of 22 potential team members who attended the dinner. "He said he was nervous, that everyone gets nervous, but that he has prepared for those moments.
"I put in the work so there is no reason I can't accomplish this."
Nicklaus, 76, who won 18 major championships and 73 PGA Tour events, also posted a 17-8-3 record at a time when the U.S. never lost the competition. Nicklaus played in six Ryder Cups and was on the winning side five times, with a tie in 1969 -- one where he conceded a putt to England's Tony Jacklin that assured the outcome and still left Nicklaus being remembered for his sportsmanship.
The Golden Bear also captained two U.S. teams, including the tense, winning effort here at PGA National in 1983 and again in 1987 at his Muirfield Village course in Ohio, where the U.S. lost for the first time at home. Starting with that Ryder Cup, Europe is 9-4-1, winning the past three and eight of the past 10.
Love was appointed to his second captaincy a year ago and has sought to unify all involved in an effort to stop the losing streak and better position the Americans. Given that Palm Beach Gardens is home to the PGA of America, Love decided to get as many together as possible during the Honda Classic.
Tiger Woods, who agreed to be a vice captain last fall, attended, as did fellow assistants Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk. Among some of the other players at the dinner were Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner and Dustin Johnson -- who is not even playing in this week's tournament.
"Once they heard Jack talk about the Ryder Cup, his great memories of it, and we talked a little bit about preparing for major championships or for Ryder Cups, and so we all learned something for sure,'' Love said. "We got to see Tiger, Phil and Jack, all in the same room, and talking to each other and asking each other questions. 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, because that's not even all the guys who might make the Ryder Cup team, but it was a big group of guys who are now excited about it, thinking about it and are part of the process.''
Said Fowler, who is leading the Honda Classic after consecutive 66s at PGA National: "Cool to have Jim Furyk drive down [from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida], Tiger to be there, Phil always a key part. It was just a good time. It's fun to hang out and be around those kinds of people and to hear some stories from Jack. It was special.''