Sport Golf

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Captain Corey to heed call of the 'wild' and pick Tiger

Tiger Woods has shown glimpses of his best recently, including his 65 on Saturday in the Deutsche Bank, and looks certain to be included by Pavin. Photo: Reuters
Tiger Woods has shown glimpses of his best recently, including his 65 on Saturday in the Deutsche Bank, and looks certain to be included by Pavin. Photo: Reuters

COREY Pavin loves the Ryder Cup. He loves everything about it -- the battle, the strategies and the unique, intense atmosphere that comes with this biennial clash between the USA and Europe.

Pavin won a US Open, which is arguably the toughest Major due to the USGA's annual set-up of a course designed to weed out all but the very best competitors. But ask Pavin about pressure, and he'll tell you the Ryder Cup beats the US Open hands down.

"I feel the Ryder Cup is the most dynamic experience a competitive golfer will ever face," he contends. "I have never been as nervous, anxious, or focused as when I played in my three Ryder Cup matches.

"I can tell you a story about back in '93. Lanny (Wadkins) and I were the first match off and we had about a two-hour fog delay and everybody is antsy and restless. Finally we go to the first tee and we are playing foursomes.

"They announced 'from the United States, Corey Pavin' and I realised then that I'm the first person to hit in the first match. I can't even describe how nervous I was. I put the tee in the ground and when I went to put the ball on the tee I realised my hand was shaking so much.


"I decided: 'let's just drop the ball on the tee and hopefully it will stay on the tee'. And thank goodness it did. I was able to compose myself, get up and hit a good drive. So, the nerves you feel at the Ryder Cup are nothing like you feel anywhere else in golf.

"I've won the US Open, but it felt like a walk in the park compared to the Ryder Cup."

Today the captain is finalising his four captain's picks for the match in Celtic Manor, Wales from October 1-3, and tomorrow he makes the big announcement.

So, will Tiger Woods make the team? I believe he will and that Pavin, in fact, set his sights on including the 14-times Major champion from early in the year. This is despite the huge controversy over Woods' personal life and his marriage break-up which was finalised in the divorce courts recently.

Why would Pavin risk it? For a start, because of the aforementioned Ryder Cup pressure cooker.

Woods is a man who has dealt with huge pressure in the past and never more so than this year.

The captain also knows that Woods, who has been showing a resurgence in form, is still a formidable player if he has his mind and focus in the right place.

Tiger also has a huge depth of experience, something Pavin will value as he takes his team away from home to try and retain the cup.

Then there's the fact that Tiger's Ryder Cup record ain't too shabby at all. In five appearances, his overall record is played 25, won 10, lost 13 and halved 2. His singles record is won 3, lost 1, halved 1.

Compare that with Padraig Harrington, who is Europe's top Major winner.

Harrington has played 21, won 7, lost 11, and halved 3. In singles, Harrington has won 3, lost 2, halved none.

There are concerns, principally as to how Tiger will be received by the WAGs on both sides, but Pavin and Woods will have that potential problem sorted by the time the team touches down in Wales.

And following his divorce, Tiger's situation is crystal clear.

His motivation now is to restore himself on the fairways and what better way than to help his country retain the Ryder Cup?

Irish Independent

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