US Ryder Cup team captain Corey Pavin went from declaring Tiger Woods wouldn’t receive an automatic spot on the team to saying he’s got a place saved for him if he doesn’t make it by merit. Now, Pavin plans to meet with Woods at next month’s PGA Championship for a serious captain-to-player talk, which is receiving more hype than a UN summit between world leaders to discuss an international peace treatise.
Pavin will sit-down Woods to gauge his interest in playing in this fall’s Ryder Cup. In typical Woodsian-style, Tiger has been cryptic over whether he’ll play. Even though Tiger hasn’t been known to adore team competitions, he dominated at the Presidents Cup last fall when teamed with Steve Stricker. With the significance of the Ryder Cup and the strength of Team Europe, Woods’ participation would be beneficial for the Americans and his public image. Even if he’s not playing his best and he’s lost his “mystique,” he’s always been a strong matchplay contender.
I have not spoken to Tiger yet about the Ryder Cup,” Pavin stated at the British Senior Open. “But I do plan to talk to him about it during the PGA Championship. All I know is what Tiger said at the Masters – I don’t think he has said anything to change that position.”
When asked about the Ryder Cup at the Masters, Woods said ambiguously, “Would I like to play in it? If I qualify.”
Currently, Tiger is eighth in the Ryder Cup points standings that will provide eight automatic berths to the team. Captain Pavin will use his discretion to pick the remaining four members. But should Tiger under-perform at the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, the likes of Hunter Mahan, Ricky Barnes (yes, seriously) and Jeff Overton (again, yes, seriously) could pass him in points.
In any scenario, Captain Pavin likely wants to know where Tiger’s interest level in playing for Team USA stands before making any decisions or announcements that could make anyone look misinformed or stupid. Or, he just wants to prepare for picking another player to replace Tiger’s spot on the team — since it’s already been established Pavin has saved him a spot.
Either way, the Americans better get their games together unless they want their asses handed to them in what could be an embarrassing rout by Team Europe. That said, choose wisely, Captain Pavin.
[Photo by Associated Press]