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Pavin furious at Monty jibes

COLIN MONTGOMERIE'S reign as Ryder Cup captain was always likely to be a lively one.

But with the match now only 50 days away, Montgomerie and his opposite number, Corey Pavin, have found the countdown to Celtic Manor has taken many unexpected twists -- none of them to their liking.

Pavin yesterday became embroiled in a row with a TV reporter over whether or not he had said Tiger Woods was certain to be on his USA team.

It even spilled over angrily after a joint press conference with Montgomerie, Pavin's wife stated that the reporter had called her husband a liar and told him: "You're going down."

But during the same conference the American captain, who maintains he is not promising the world number one anything yet because it would be disrespectful to other candidates for his four wild cards, helped Montgomerie out of a difficult spot.

Questions started coming about the Scot's personal life, to which Monty answered: "I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense."

He said he was not going to make any further comment, but did then confirm that he had spoken to "a number of players" and insisted: "There's no issue here at all. Nothing at all."

This comes two months after he issued a statement apologising "for the hurt I have caused to the ones I love so much" following a newspaper story that he had seen a former girlfriend again.

"I have put my marriage under considerable strain, but we are are working through these problems," Montgomerie had also said back then.

When another Monty question soon followed, Pavin had heard enough. "Let's stick to golf subjects here. We'd appreciate that. Thank you," he said.

Montgomerie's discomfort was eased when he raised a laugh on entering the debate over Woods.

While Pavin was giving nothing away -- September 7 is when he names his team -- Montgomerie was asked if he would select him (Woods).

"That's a very difficult, dangerous and undiplomatic question -- but of course I'd pick him, yes."

To that Pavin replied: "Let me make a note of that. Thanks for the help. Appreciate it. He's very helpful that way, Colin is."

But Montgomerie was not being mischievous, just straight-talking.

Well aware that the Americans won without Woods two years ago -- he was recovering from knee surgery -- and that he was next-to-last in Akron last Sunday, Montgomerie remains a huge fan of Woods as a golfer.

"Of course there's a huge aura regarding Tiger Woods," Monty added. "It's the one name that all our team will be looking for if they are going to play against him in any form of the Ryder Cup."

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy had no trouble naming the quality he thinks could be his main aid in becoming the third youngest winner of the USPGA title this week -- patience.

"Sometimes it's hard when you're trying to get somewhere so fast and you don't really want to slow down," said McIlroy. "But you've got to be patient in this game. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept that you're not going to have a good day all the time. That's something I'm still learning how to do.

"But that all comes through experience and I feel I'm getting better at it."