Category: Corey Pavin


November 16, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Cristie Kerr says caddying for Corey Pavin helped her game

Posted at 1:18 PM by Samantha Glover

Less than a week after caddying for Corey Pavin at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Cristie Kerr won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Kerr is back in the hunt again this week after an opening 67 at the CME Group Titleholders in Naples. Turns out Kerr's brief time as a caddie gave her game a boost.

According to Randall Mell's Golf Talk Central report, Pavin stayed with Kerr and her husband Erik Stevens at their Scottsdale, Ariz., home during the tournament. Kerr, the ideal caddy for Pavin because of her familiarity with the course, picked up his bag for the last four holes of the third round. He birdied three of them.

Kerr's stint as a caddy wasn't just good for Pavin, but gave Kerr a new perspective for when she played.

“I didn’t really appreciate what caddies go through,” Kerr said. “I got a new perspective with that, and I think it gave me a little more patience with myself.”

 

January 21, 2011

Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Love is plenty dynamic, it's time for young Americans to step up, and prospects for next book

Posted at 12:10 PM by Alan Shipnuck

Jan21-davis-love_300x233 The season gets serious now. I'll be covering three tourneys in a row beginning in San Diego, so expect some dispatches from the mean streets of La Jolla, Scottsdale and Pebble Beach ...

Who's more dynamic, Davis Love or Cory Pavin? lol... — Dave A., New York
I get the sarcasm, but Love will have more of a rally-the-troops effect than his flat-lined predecessor. He's a much more popular figure in the clubhouse and on the range because he's a schmoozer and a guy's guy, forever chatting about snowboarding or hunting or fishing or course design or his other interests and hobbies. Love's placid demeanor as a competitor is deceptive; he cares deeply. That was obvious with his teary introductory press conference during which he showed more passion than during Pavin's entire glum, two-year reign. Love also has just enough of a mischievous streak to start a little ruckus with the British press, which is a key bit of entertainment for any Ryder Cup.

What's with 7 of world's top 12 in Abu Dhabi this week? Love of appearance fees or hatred of pro-ams like Hope? —Bert Stewart, Philadelphia
Yes.

When will the young Americans (O'Hair, AK, Mahan) step up the way the young Europeans have and become consistent winners? — Brian Rosenwald
Maybe never, but let's hope that's not the case. The Euro tour created so much buzz last year with the stellar performances of its top players, but the fact remains that there is much more depth on the PGA Tour. By playing mostly in Europe, talented youngsters like Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer get a lot more chances to win early in their careers. They bank invaluable experience learning to manage their emotions and their games under pressure. Also the money is a lot less so finishing fourth doesn't feel as good. On the PGA Tour young players have to fight so hard for just a couple of chances to win. I think they get seduced into thinking a top-10 is a satisfactory result. I think Mahan and Kim and O'Hair are finally at a point in their careers where they understand a lucrative tie for sixth is not good enough. They've been through enough Sunday dogfights now to know what it takes to win. It takes longer over here, but the best players eventually figure it out. We'll see who among them can apply that knowledge.

Is Anthony Kim overrated? Three wins and 20 career top 10's is hardly compelling. — Anthony Iser
To this point Kim has gotten a pass based on his youth and tantalizing potential, but it's time for him to put up or shut up. I understand he's 25 and wants to have fun and chase tail—hey, the Mailbag can't begrudge him that. But there's 27 weeks a year for that, when he's not playing a tournament. Last night, following the second round of the Hope, I got a text from a friend in Palm Springs who wrote, "AK and his entourage are here at the bar hitting it pretty hard." Until he takes his life on the road more seriously, I fear we won't see Kim's best golf. Correction: Anthony Kim is not playing the Bob Hope this week, so the Mailbag fully endorses his night on the town in Palm Springs.

I read "Swinging from my Heels" a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I read "Bud, Sweat and Tees" years ago and enjoyed that also. So, who will you next stalk for a year? Can I suggest G-Mac? I suspect that would be pretty darned entertaining! — Mark Limbaugh
Clearly Mark is a very discerning reader. It's funny you'd mention G-Mac because I'm presently trying to arrange a trip to Portrush to hang out with him and his mates for an SI story. To understand a guy like McDowell you have to see him in his native environment. Anyway, I've always loved the Euro tour. I think spending a year over there writing about the players and their madcap adventures would make a killer book. Alas, it's tough to pull it off with little kids. But you can look forward to my chronicle of the 2026 season over there.

 

(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

October 08, 2010

Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Mahan and Pavin at Ryder Cup, Mickelson's longevity and more

Posted at 3:11 PM by Alan Shipnuck

OK, a couple of obligatory Ryder Cup questions and then it's time to move on. There's a lot more going on in the golf world than just second-guessing the U.S. loss. Haven't you people heard of the Fall Series? Speaking of which, with the golf season petering out, the Mailbag is going to begin its fall hibernation. Future editions will be posted only as warranted (or under great duress by the Golf.com leadership).

Why is it that Hunter gets off so easy? No excuse to not at least get it past the hole. —Tim Stephens, New York City
Oct4_mahan_299x195 It's true, Mahan has taken almost no grief for losing the anchor match and, therefore, the Ryder Cup. Part of this is his own reaction; all those tears in the press conference made it pretty plain how torn up Mahan already was, so there wasn't much need to pile on. And that last chip was embarrassing but not really decisive.

A bigger factor in the coverage is that Mahan was never going to win that match, anyway, so he didn't really let anyone down. Greame McDowell finished a strong third in his final tune-up before the Cup and he was superb through the first three sessions. Mahan came into Wales in middling form and was benched all of Friday. Then, in the session-three foursomes, he got smoked along with Zach Johnson by McDowell-Rory McIlroy. So, to recap, Europe had one of it hottest, best, toughest players in the 12th singles match. USA had a non-major champion playing in only his second Cup who was struggling with his form. Seems to me the criticism should go to the guy who dreamed up the U.S. singles lineup.

Is the importance of the Ryder Cup captain overrated? If the U.S. had won another half-point, Pavin would probably be praised for his cool demeanor, and Monty would be taking a beating for losing on European soil. —Tony
See above. Or my colleague Michael Bamberger's excellent story about the captains in this week's SI. In the sports world we fetishize successful coaches: Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Bill Belichick, et al are given a ton of credit for their teams' success. Clearly strong leadership is important, even at the Ryder Cup. Europe had that, and the Americans didn't.

My wife and I are moving close to you in February. We are from Europe but have fallen in love with that part of the world and decided to make a new start. Can you recommend any hidden treasures (golf courses) that I might have not heard of? Or courses not overrun with tourists? Pasatiempo, Pebble, MPCC, Cordevalle, Spyglass are all great but what else is there? —Ivan Bulic, Vienna, Austria
Dude, what else do you need? (And welcome, by the way.) Northern California has an obscene amount of great golf. Around the Monterey Peninsula, Poppy Hills is a really fun layout and a super bargain. Tee-to-green, Bayonet is as good as anything in the area but the greens are a little extreme; still, it's a must-play. Pacific Grove Golf Links has a dunesy back-nine that makes it a poor man's Pebble. For a really fun, sporty parkland stroll, Old Del Monte is tough to beat, and to sharpen your game I love Monterey Pines, a recently redone executive course. The San Francisco Bay Area and wine country to the north have dozens of good tracks, though the best of them—SFGC, Mayacama, Los Altos—are private. Drop me another line when you get out here and we'll get you organized.

New golf nerd the past year. Need definitions re: "Majors" vs "PGA Tour". Suggestion for reference? Please don't be mean. —Christine Marshall
I would never be mean to a new fan—we're happy to have you! I'll be your reference: the majors are the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. The PGA Tour runs the weekly events in the U.S. What's interesting about the "majors" is how they've evolved over time. When Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam in 1930 it was comprised of the U.S. and British Opens and U.S. and British Amateurs. Some old-timers still like to count the U.S. Amateur as a major, in which case Jack Nicklaus has 20 career majors and Tiger Woods 17, but I don't buy into that—the Amateur lost much of its importance as soon as Jones retired.

It should also be noted that for its first century the British Open was more of a parochial tourney. Hardly any Americans made the trip over there and it wasn't until Arnold Palmer's first sojourn in 1960, after he had already won that year's Masters and U.S. Open, that talk began of a modern Grand Slam. So while what constitutes a major championship has changed over the years, I can assure all of you one thing: the Players will never be considered a major as long as my typing fingers still work.

Alan, I don't see Phil having a run in his early 40's like Stricker, Singh and Kenny Perry. Other than Tiger you have to go back to Tom Watson to find another player with a similar number of tour wins and Watson struggled past 40. I've been a huge fan of Phil's since watching him win the U.S. Amateur, but can't help but feel he is on the fast track to the twilight of his winning career. I can envision a couple of more tour wins, but majors don't seem in the cards any longer. —Joel
I think it's too soon to write off Phil. He was one or two swings from being halfway to the Grand Slam this year. He's dealt with huge family trauma and now a freakish onset of psoriatic arthritis. His wife Amy is doing much better—she walked every hole with him at the Ryder Cup—and as he learns to manage his own health I expect Phil will have a big 2011. But he turns 41 next year, and to keep being a force will take lots of hard work, the kind that Vijay and Stricks put in. Phil is keenly aware of his place in the game and he burns to win a U.S. Open and further burnish his legacy; as long as he's getting results I expect him to keep grinding.

I know you said Player of the Year was "not hot" a few weeks back and only PGA tour members are eligible, but didn't G-Mac pretty much hijack POY from the PGA regulars? —David Hogue
I see your point and am inclined to agree that, if we separate tour politics and other concerns, G-Mac is, quite simply, the player of the year in golf. The Open and Ryder Cup heroics are enough to put him over the top, but his body of work on the Euro tour is also outstanding—a win at the Wales Open and four other top-10s have him second in the Race to Dubai standings. He gets my vote.

Why doesn't Freddie get mentioned for Ryder Cup captain? He and DL3 are tight so no harm in not letting Davis captain just yet, plus he'll have experience with 2 (hopefully winning) Prez Cups. Or why couldn't Freddie and DL3 be co-captains of sorts? —Connor
Couples hasn't been strongly considered because he's made it pretty clear he doesn't want the job. Being Ryder Cup captain is way too much of a headache for Couples, who is famously laid-back. With the Prez Cup he gets to enjoy the fun of the captain's experience without the pressure, second-guessing and pomp of the Ryder Cup. And without getting ripped in the Mailbag.

Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

October 03, 2010

Pavin wins point vs. writers

Posted at 3:02 PM by Cameron Morfit

NEWPORT, Wales -- Corey Pavin came in for some ribbing in the press after he forgot to introduce Stewart Cink at the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor on Thursday.

He pulled a reversal on the writers after the matches Sunday.

Pavin was finishing his press conference when the Monday singles lineup came off the copier. Since the captains blindly submit their lineup (they don't choose whom each player will face), no one knew the match-ups, including Pavin. Since he had the sheet in front of him, he read them to the media.

One by one, he read off the names of the players in the first 11 matches, and then he stopped.

"And who can tell me the last one?" he asked.

There was a brief pause before someone shouted out Hunter Mahan's name, and another, slightly longer pause before another journalist finally mentioned Graeme McDowell.

Pavin laughed. He'd made his point. Said the U.S. captain, "It's hard to remember 12 names, isn't it?"

October 01, 2010

Truth & Rumors: British tabloid 'catches' Tiger checking out blonde singer

Posted at 9:20 AM by Mike Walker

P1-tiger-jenkins_298x228 Tiger Woods just can’t catch a break. During his Ryder Cup preparation Celtic Manor in Wales this week, Woods has been on his best behavior, focused during his practice rounds and relaxed at the many team social events. Woods was at his blandest during his Tuesday press conference, saying so little that even the most enterprising newspaper editor was hard-pressed to create a whiff of controversy from his remarks.

Plan B worked a little better. Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, a beautiful blonde, performed during the opening ceremonies on Thursday and a photographer "caught" Woods checking her out, according to The Daily Mail (UK).

Woods, 34, was caught staring at Katherine Jenkins's bottom as she performed at the opening ceremony of the tournament, which is taking place in her native Wales for the very first time. Thankfully, the singer, who was wearing a Victoria Beckham creation, seemed completely oblivious to his cheeky gaze as she walked past the U.S Ryder Cup team at the event at at Celtic Manor in Newport today.

In truth, this is probably just a camera-angle illusion -- other photos from the event show Woods looking amused and even bored. But even if Woods was staring, he could plead entrapment. No jury would ever convict him.

Monty ‘1 up’ after Pavin’s opening ceremony slip
During the team introduction portion of Thursday’s Ryder Cup opening ceremony, U.S. captain Corey Pavin forgot to mention Stewart Cink when announcing his team. Team Europe captain Colin Montgomerie was asked afterward if Pavin’s error meany that Europe was “1 up” after the ceremony.

In response, Montgomerie went into a grandiose explanation about how the teleprompter was difficult to read and it was understandable because the player right before Cink, Zach Johnson, was from Sea Island, Ga., and Cink was from Duluth, Ga. It could have happened to anyone, even Montgomerie himself, had he not so diligently rehearsed his speech earlier in the week.Then came the kicker.

“Yes, we are 1 up,” Mony deadpanned.

Tom English of The Scotsman has a nice recap of Monty’s final pre-Ryder Cup press conference, when he wasn’t afraid to fire a few shots at Pavin’s morning four-ball picks and order, especially on Tiger Woods playing the the third group.

Montgomerie sat looking at the respective line-ups for this morning's fourball matches at Celtic Manor and came up with a series of observations that may have his rivals in a rage. Chief among a lengthy list being the idea that by putting Tiger Woods third in the running order (where he and Steve Stricker will face Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher), his captain Corey Pavin was attempting to hide him from Europe's biggest guns.

"I was expecting Tiger to go first or fourth," said Montgomerie. "I think Tiger being hidden is a different move. I don't know why (Pavin picked him in the third group]. Maybe Tiger asked for that. I don't know what Corey said beforehand. I wasn't in the room. I'm sure there's no-one in that Friday morning fourballs for the States that are uncomfortable with where they are playing. So, obviously, it was a decision between Corey and Tiger."

Monty didn’t mention that putting Rory McIloy out second was a clear attempt to keep McIlroy away from Tiger since the last place you'd see Tiger would be in the second group.

Celebrity spotting at Celtic Manor
As someone who spent a futile afternoon following up rumors that George Clooney was at the 2008 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale (he wasn’t), I’m skeptical of celebrity reports at golf tournaments. However, I’ve been assured that Samuel L. Jackson is here. I haven’t talked to anyone who has seen Michael Jordan, but considering the weather Friday, that’s not surprising. Jordan is a well-known fan of the Ryder Cup and was an assistant captain at last year's Presidents Cup. People in the know have also told me there's a chance that former President Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush could appear. Here’s the latest celeb talk from WalesOnline.com:

Never mind the golf, there is another sport that has got everyone in Wales talking as the Ryder Cup landed on our shores – celebrity spotting.

Whether it’s Michael Jordan at a Cardiff nightclub, Samuel L Jackson booking a Caerleon hotel or David Beckham in a helicopter, the rumors seem to be getting wilder each day.

The internet was yesterday once again buzzing with speculation about which A-list stars will grace the Celtic Manor with their presence. So far very little, in fact none, of the chatter has materialized in confirmed sightings. But with the action starting today, spectators and photographers will be on the hunt.

The strongest rumour doing the rounds at the Twenty Ten Course was that Beckham had booked several rooms at the Celtic Manor for a cool £75,000.

Photo: Alastair Grant/Getty Images

September 30, 2010

Nasty weather might help U.S. in Ryder Cup

Posted at 3:07 PM by Mike Walker

NEWPORT, Wales -- For all the talk about the Ryder Cup team uniforms, they might be hard to see under the umbrellas Friday.

You can sum up the weather for Friday’s opening matches in three words: cold, windy and wet. The forecast calls for gusts of up to 25 mph during the morning, gradually clearing by the last afternoon, with a high of 60 degrees and a low of 53.

But despite weather that would be considered the dead of winter in Florida and the Southeast states, where most of the American players live, the Welsh weather could give long-hitting Team USA an edge.

All eight players Pavin chose to play Friday morning fourballs hit the ball far. (“Fourballs” means every player plays his own ball and the best score wins, while in “foresomes” players alternate shots.) Not only does the weather help the long-hitters stay in the fairway, but Pavin said he expects that if weather conditions are bad then Ryder Cup officials will play under “preferred rules” or lift-clean-and-place, which means great lies for those wedges and short irons into the green.

That perceived advantage might explain the puzzling final morning pair of Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, which Team Europe captain Colin Montgomerie initially called “strange,” then downgraded to “unexpected.” Watson is second on PGA Tour driving distance at 309 yards per poke, behind only Robert Garrigus.

However, Pavin insisted that he put the big hitters together to make a lot of birdies in the fourballs format, not to take advantage of the weather.

“I mean, how often do the weather men actually get the weather right?” Pavin said. “I just wanted to send out guys who I thought were very good at better ball [fourballs] and send them out and have at it and the weather is not a factor at all.”

The forecast is supposed to ease up a little for the weekend. However, the morning fog might be especially thick on Saturday, when a mix of clouds and rain is expected. Sunday’s forecast is for morning showers followed by a mix of clouds and sun in the afternoon.

Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag: Dream Ryder Cup matchups, McIlroy-Tiger dustup, more

Posted at 10:15 AM by Alan Shipnuck

Dear gentle reader: If you're not burnt-out on the whole Q&A thing I will be hosting a Twitter chat at 2:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Oct. 1, coming to you live from Celtic Manor. Be sure to tune in, because it's never too early to begin second-guessing the Ryder Cup captains and speculating as to whom will be the biggest goat.

Your pairings?

—Ivan Bulic, Viena, Austria

I salute Ivan for his brevity. Actually, he had a good editor, as I lopped off a few paragraphs of his prattling. Anyway, from the practice rounds it seems that each captain has identified a couple of powerhouse teams. I love the Flying Molinari Bros., the Irish Big Macs, Tiger/Stricks and the shock and awe of air-headed bombers DJ and Philly Mick. I expect this Cup to be tight heading into singles, so let's focus on that. Here's my dream matchups, in this order:

1. Tiger-Rory. Think this leadoff match would send a charge through the golfing world?

2. Phil-Westwood. Two team leaders in a huge momentum decider.

3. Dustin-Francesco Molinari. Big guns who can overpower a golf course and have a profound effect on the crowd.

4. Zach-Kaymer. A pair of clever, creative, scrappy players with world-class resumes.

5. Overton-Poulter. Lotsa fire in both of these cats. It would be an upset if this match stayed civil.

6. Bubba-Peter Hanson. Middle of the draw is the place to hide weak links.

7. Cink-Ross Fisher. Ditto.

8. Rickie-Luke Donald. Fire and ice. It would be compelling to watch the clash between their different styles and personalities.

9. Koochi-Edoardo Molinari. Putting wizards who come in as two of the hottest players in the world.

10. Stricker-McDowell. Rock-solid all-around talents who quietly are fiercely competitive.

11. Mahan-Jimenez. Stylish swingers sure to make a bunch of birdies. Each is cocky enough to want to decide the Cup.

12. Furyk-Paddy. This Cup could very well go down to the last match, so best to save a couple of studs for the 12-hole. Both of these gritty warriors will fight to the death.

Any suggestions for guys who would be good captains but won't ever get the job (too fun, too honest, too drunk)?

—Anonymous, via Twitter

You would think that golfing acumen and leadership qualities would be the only qualifications to be a Ryder Cup captain but the PGA of America has made it clear that it wants the shot-callers to be around 50 years old with long resumes that include multiple Ryder Cup appearances and a mandatory major championship victory. This knocks out a bunch of intriguing candidates. I'd love to see Brad Faxon as captain–no active player is as passionate about the game's history and traditions, and he's a cerebral guy who'd make all the right calls. But Faxon hasn't been relevant for years and he lacks that major championship. Paul Goydos's record is even skimpier but he'd be a hoot as captain; definitely the press room MVP and Sunshine would surely keep the troops loose. Rich Beem would be good fun, too, and he's charismatic in a goody, Freddyesque way. There's no more fiery personality on Tour than Jerry Kelly and he bleeds red, white and blue. Downside: he would definitely create an international incident by cross-checking the opposing captain. Among this current batch of Ryder Cuppers my personal choice would be Bubba Watson. He brings a dewey-eyed patriotism and his aw-shucks naïveté plays well with the European press. Put it this way: he certainly won't outsmart himself.

Why the need for four vice-captains? It seems to me the Ryder Cup's gotten severely over-analyzed/micromanaged.

—Bert Stewart, Philadelphia

The Ryder Cup captaincy has become an arms race of accoutrements, with each captain trying to top the other in an effort to appear hyper-prepared. You have a sound-proof team room? I'll raise you a New Agey psychologist. You bring in an air force major for a rah-rah pep talk? I counter with a dying Spanish legend. And on and on it goes. Paul Azinger had three assistant captains because he wanted one to monitor each of his 4-man pods during practice rounds. I've heard Monty say he likes having four manservants so one can trail each of the matches during the team play. Surely someday we'll have 12 assistant captains, one to fuss over each player, like an overbearing wet nurse.

On the topic of Rory McIlroy saying he'd rather win a WGC event than a Ryder Cup, it brings up a couple of thoughts:

1. The reason Tiger Woods never gives a straight answer to the media is he'd get ripped like you ripped Rory. Soon young Mr. McIlroy will learn not to speak the truth either, and he'll become boring also. I wish you guys could show some self-restraint.

2. Golf is an individual sport. As much as it's fun for writers to rip golfers for wanting to get paid, they are creating all the value at the Ryder Cup and don't get compensated for it. It's one thing to play for charity, but when others are profiting it hardly seems like they should give their time for free.

- Dan McCann

Irvine, CA

I salute Rory for his honesty, just not his acumen. He's going to win many tournaments in his career, and a random WGC will not stand out. But the Ryder Cup can define a player's legacy, particularly for a Euro who doesn't play much in the U.S. Ask Seve, or Monty, or Sergio. Your second point is well-taken, given what a overhyped spectacle the Ryder Cup has become. Certainly the European Tour is not shy about prostituting the Ryder Cup to suck up every possible corporate dollar. But while the competitors don't get paid directly, the Ryder Cup has huge value for them, and not just in the $200K in charity money they get to disperse. Representing the U.S. gives each player tremendous exposure and stamps them as one of the best in the game. For an Overton or Fowler or Bubba this represents a major upgrade in their career, which can only help them in the marketplace.

Play this game please; you are only able to attend/view the action at East Lake or Celtic Manor. Which would you choose and why?

—Steven Hartung

It's particularly delicious that these two events are so close together on the calendar, highlighting their differences. The Tour Championship was pretty good fun but ultimately the FedEx Cup is nothing more than a monument to conspicuous consumption, a cynical exercise dreamed up in a corporate boardroom and lorded over by computer nerds who control the all-powerful logarithms that determine the winner. The Ryder Cup has its flaws but remains, quite simply, one of the greatest experiences in sport. I can still hear in my head the "Ole', ole', ole', ole,'oooolleee'!" chants from Valderrama, still remember that the closing moments in Brookline were so tense I was having trouble breathing properly. When the Ryder Cup is closely contested it produces intensity and emotion that is completely foreign to any other golf event. I woulda swam to Wales to cover this one.

September 27, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Monty denies dissing Tiger

Posted at 1:02 PM by Mike Walker

Team Europe captain Colin Montgomerie quickly distanced himself from a report in the British press that said Montgomerie would not want Tiger Woods on his team at the Ryder Cup.

“I don't know where that came from,” Montgomerie said Monday. “I never spoke to any press yesterday, and I don't know where that came from. I've always said that ‑‑ I've always said that Tiger, the best player in the world, and in my opinion, the best player who has ever played the game. Of course he would be on my team. I said that at the U.S. PGA.”

Montgomerie was in damage-control mode over a story in The Sun UK on Monday with the not-so-subtle headline: “Monty: I’d Snub Tiger.”

Euro captain Monty insists he would pick other Americans ahead of Woods as he still has a lot to prove after the sex scandals that destroyed his marriage.

Monty said: "Tiger hasn't been himself on or off the course and it's a matter of seeing what he does." World No 1 Woods and the rest of the US team land in Cardiff today ahead of the clash which starts on Friday.

Asked who he would have if he could have the pick of the US players, Monty said: "Someone like a Jim Furyk or a Steve Stricker.

"They might not be household names but they're very steady.

"It's interesting I didn't mention Tiger. Obviously Tiger hasn't been himself."

At the PGA Championship last month, Montgomerie said he hoped Woods would be on the U.S. team because it would be a “bigger, better” event with the world's No. 1 player teeing it up.

“Of course, it's a huge aura playing against him, and something that my team will relish the opportunity of playing against what we all believe is the best player of our generation,” Montgomerie said last month.

Montgomerie is choosing his words carefully this week. Everything he does will be to gain some strategic edge, so it’s likely Montgomerie sees Tiger as a vulnerable spot for Team USA and wants to increase the pressure on him.

Sometimes it feels like Montgomerie is playing chess while Team USA captain Corey Pavin is playing checkers.

Camilo Villegas to appear naked in sports magazine
Following the trail blazed by the LPGA’s Christina Kim, Camilo Villegas will appear nude in ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue,” according to The New York Times.

Villegas’s body will be on display in all its naked glory in ESPN The Magazine’s coming Body Issue. The photo shoot took place a few months ago, in and around Villegas’s home in Jupiter, Fla.

“I haven’t seen the pictures,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I’m also a little anxious.”

Villegas, the 2008 Tour Championship winner, is used to being photographed, from close range, in awkward positions.

On Friday, as he hit his ball from a side hill lie in the rough, three photographers knelt on the ground or lay on their stomachs a few feet away, their lenses trained at him. Having nowhere to hide from the cameras is not the same as being fully exposed.

“It was uncomfortable,” Villegas said. “Getting naked in front of a camera is not what I do for a living. In those moments when it was really awkward, I kept thinking I’ve worked really hard to accomplish these results, and that helped me to relax.”

Proof once again that the most intense romance on Tour is the one between Villegas and himself.

Rocca screams for ice cream
Tom Kington of The Observer (UK) files a nice profile of Constantino Rocca, whose 4 & 2 victory over Tiger Woods is the only time a European player has ever beat Tiger in Ryder Cup singles. However, the best part of the story has nothing to do with Tiger or Rocca’s hurt feelings about not getting a nod for vice captain this year. It’s about what happened after John Daly beat him in a playoff at the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews.

"I said afterwards: 'No one remembers who comes second,' but strangely enough people remember the competition more for me than John Daly, as if I had won not him." When asked why he collapsed to the ground instead of leaping in the air, Rocca grins. "I was coming up the slope, it was just easier."

The fact Daly beat him makes him no less fond of the American. "The following week we played together in the Dutch Open and Häagen-Dazs sent ice cream to John and me at our hotel. I went down to get it and the receptionist said: 'John Daly took it all.' He beat me in the Open then stole my ice cream."

September 24, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Monty surprises by divulging first day strategy, McIlroy wants Tiger

Posted at 2:23 PM by Michael Chwasky

Monty says all 12 will play 
The Ryder Cup hasn't always been about posturing, playing to the press, and psychological strategy, but these days it all seems to be part of the game. Exhibit A is European captain Colin Montgomerie's surprise move this week in which he made it known that all 12 members of his team will be competing on the first day of the event. For anyone not familiar with Ryder Cup tactics, this is an unusual approach, to say the least, as it allows American Captain Corey Pavin to optimize his own strategy. Why has the always interesting Monty made such a bold move? A post on sport.co.uk has an interesting take: 

Following the surprise announcement, several prominent golf pundits, and even ex-captains have expressed their surprise at his premature selection for the foursomes and fourball. It is almost certain that the captain and his background staff have an ulterior motive for the announcement. At this stage, mind games always come into consideration. Previous contests have seen captains and players snipe and jibe the press with such consideration that even Sir Alex Ferguson would stand and take note.

So is Monty simply playing games with the press? Is he trying to manipulate Pavin's strategy in some way, or just trying to confuse him? It's hard for anyone to say for sure, but when you consider that Monty has made other odd moves so far, including sound-proofing the European team room, excluding world class players like Justin Rose and Paul Casey from the squad, and making bold statements about former captain Nick Faldo's lack of passion in a losing effort, it's clear that the Scot has his own agenda, as always. 

Rory wants a piece of Tiger
There was a solid decade or so when not too many, if any, players made a peep about challenging Tiger's dominance. Once in a while the odd comment from the likes of Rory Sabbatini or Ian Poulter came out, but typically you didn't hear a lot of, "I'm taking Tiger out." Nowadays, of course, things have changed just a bit for the world's No. 1 player, who had to be selected as a captain's pick in order to make this year's Ryder Cup team. 

The latest indication that Tiger's stranglehold on professional golf has slipped are comments from 21-year-old superstar and European Ryder Cup team member Rory McIlroy, who recently said, "it would be great to take someone like Tiger Woods down." McIlroy, who made a similar remark to the BBC in August, also said that he didn't care who he played against, just that he wanted to earn points for his team. "Whoever I come up against on the American side, I'll be ready for them," he said.

Is McIlroy intentionally being brash for the European press, just showing the exuberance of youth, or brazenly calling out Tiger Woods? It's hard to say, but regardless of his intentions it's clear that the newest wave of superstars aren't all that intimidated by the player they idolized as kids. 

September 22, 2010

Rumors: The Captainess won't back down, Ian Poulter is 'bored' by environmentalists, Doug Barron is coming back

Posted at 11:22 AM by Steve Beslow

Much ado about Lisa
Between her part in the Corey Pavin/Jim Gray spat and her risque (though only by golf standards) cover shoot for Avid Golfer magazine, Lisa Pavin has definitely stepped into the spotlight this year. Now the only question is whether she'll become a sideshow in Wales next month. Neither of the Pavins seem to think so, but Robert Lusetich of foxsports.com doesn't seem as convinced.

Lisa Pavin’s become the most high-profile captain’s wife in the history of the Ryder Cup, and to hear her tell it, she has no idea why.

“It’s taken on a life of its own but I really don’t deserve this much attention,” the attractive 36-year-old says.

“I laugh because I think, ‘Wow, I haven’t done anything to have so many people talking about me.’”

For that to be true, however, would require a very loose definition of “haven’t done anything.”

The “captainess” — a term she and her husband both embrace — has been intimately involved in every detail of the American Ryder Cup campaign.

She speaks confidently of her “business mind,” of wanting to help “build the brand” of the Ryder Cup and of not wanting to be remembered as just a golfer’s wife.

While acknowledging that his wife’s garnered a lot of attention, Pavin doesn’t think she will turn into a distraction at Celtic Manor next week, even if he knows the Fleet Street tabloids will try their best to make her one.

“It’s much ado about nothing,” he says.

Normally I'd say it's a bit of an overreaction to worry about how much of a distraction Mrs. Pavin could possibly be to the Cup team, but there is definitely some danger there. As we learned in 2006, the European tabloid press can be downright shameless (just ask Elin). If Lisa (or any of the other Tour wives, or for that matter any of the players themselves) does anything that could be considered remotely untoward, she's likely to end up, at best, on the wrong end of some brutally funny headlines. Should we be worried about that happening? Depends on how the Americans are received. Still, Lisa reminds me of those old WWF managers. She'll stand by the ropes and cheer on her husband, but if things start getting rough, she's not above grabbing a folding chair and hopping into the ring. And yes, that's a compliment.

Ian Poulter: Friend of the environment
Last week we gave you the ups and downs (mostly downs) of Ian Poulter's Twitter war with broadcaster Johnny Miller. This week Poulter is taking on an even more controversial opponent: the entire planet. His Twit-path by way of John Strenge:

Twitter continues to provide an endless source of amusement, to wit the grief that Ian Poulter apparently took for posting video of his flight, via private jet (a Gulfstream G4), from Atlanta to Orlando, apparently a five-minute flight.

"Be home in 5 mins I will post take off and landing when I'm on wireless loads of footage," he wrote.

Apparently, he began hearing about the carbon footprint he had made for the five-minute flight, to which he replied via Twitter: "Tree huggers stop it your boring me, I guess i should have set off 5 days ago and gone on my push bike."

Clearly Paul Azinger smelled blood in the water, because he decided the best idea was to throw in some extra chum:

Paul Azinger, who follows Poulter (and vice versa) on Twitter, weighed in with this: "AL GORE the ultimate hypocritical tree hugger set the standard high for private air travel. Friendly skies to you Ian."

Generally, I could care less what Poulter does with his time and money, but I'd recommend he tread a little more lightly with some of his comments. Hippies watch golf too, and, more importantly, golf course designers have a difficult balancing act with environmentalists, who see golf as a waste of natural resources. Poulter seemed to realize this with a followup Tweet, this one about the use of eco-friendly LED lights in his house, so hopefully he was just trying to razz his followers and went a half-step too far. I think the real answer to Poulter's latest PR problems may be even easier: stop Tweeting!

Barron on the comeback trail sans testosterone
Remember Doug Barron? Dan Wolken from Memphis' Commercial Appeal has an update on the first player suspended under the Tour's new performance-enhancing drug policy, who's now working his way back through the mini-tour circuit.

When Doug Barron wakes up for his 6 a.m. workouts, he does not jump out of bed like a 41-year-old man should. He works out religiously but does not hold muscle weight. He does not have the focus, energy or sexual function he believes a man his age should have.

He says he has lower testosterone levels than his 65-year-old father.

But for more than a year, Barron has ignored the advice of his physician to get a testosterone injection. He's ignored it and all the problems it would solve just so he could get to today, when he will officially resume a golf career that was put on hold last fall when the PGA Tour suspended him for violating its performance-enhancing drug policy.

"The only goal," Barron said, "is to get my PGA Tour card back."

In an era where golfers actually look like pro athletes and routinely crush 350-yard drives, it was a true shock when Barron became the first golfer to be suspended for use of a performance-enhancing drug. An exceedingly likable Memphian who has made more than $2.7 million in his career, Barron has never been a long hitter by PGA Tour standards. He was probably best known by casual golf fans for going into a water hazard shirtless at the 2006 Chrysler Championship, revealing a physique that wasn't exactly Tiger Woods-like.

And yet, by the letter of the law, Barron did violate the PGA Tour's anti-doping policy, which went into effect in July 2008.

I highly recommend reading the entirety of Wolken's profile, which rehashes why Barron was suspended and gives his outlook for the future. I can't really comment on whether the Tour has been unfair to Barron (at least not until we've seen the evidence from his trial that might explain what separates him from Shaun Micheel, who does have a use exemption for low-testosterone), but if nothing else, this story has been tragically under-reported. Hopefully as his suit against the Tour comes to a close and his career gets back on track, Barron can be even more forthcoming about what it's been like to play the role of scapegoat for a likely imperfect drug policy.





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