Sep
13
2010
Will This Ryder Cup Be Holier Than Usual?
By Stephanie Wei under Ryder Cup

Corey Pavin thinking deeply, probably about God, in Scotland

The quick answer is probably not since most members and captains of American Ryder Cup teams in recent history have been rather religious. John Paul Newport examines the player’s religious inclinations and wonders if it will play a part in this year’s matches. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Three of Mr. Pavin’s four discretionary “captain’s picks”—Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler—are regulars at the PGA Tour’s weekly Bible-study sessions. Messrs. Pavin and Lehman are also frequent attendees, along with team members Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. (The fourth pick, Tiger Woods, claims Buddhism as his religion.)

No one but stray bloggers has alleged that Mr. Pavin made his decisions based on religion—as golf picks they’re fairly unassailable. But the subject is close to the surface.

“It’s going to be an issue, for sure. The British tabloids will hop on it and hit it hard,” predicted Paul Azinger, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain and himself a born-again Christian.

Mr. Pavin declined to comment about how or whether his religious beliefs will be a factor in how he captains the team. Through a spokesman, he said it was a private matter.

But apparently a scantily-clad Captainess (otherwise known as America’s “secret weapon”) posing for magazine covers is open season. Anyway, now the line about bloggers jumped out at me. JP, you wouldn’t be referring to, I don’t know, me, would you?! Maybe! But I can’t remember if I’ve made a joke about Pavin picking the “God Squad,” as some dub the devout Christians on Tour.

Thing is, you’d be surprised how many players are just as religious as, say, Zach Johnson, but choose not to remind us any chance they get (not that there’s anything wrong with public displays of worship, of course). As Pavin might say, it’s a private matter.

In my humble opinion, the captain shouldn’t call for prayer or moments of silence in team gatherings — unless every single member is on the same page, but we already know Tiger calls himself a Buddhist — otherwise, it could make some players uncomfortable. My guess is Captain Pavin will abide by the standards set by his predecessors, like Paul Azinger and Tom Lehman, and keep his motivational speeches to the team secular.