Can't fault Captain Pavin for lack of Crenshaw-esque bravado, U.S. big guns are misfiring
NEWPORT, WALES – On the verge of certain doom, captain Corey Pavin is quickly becoming the fall guy for the U.S. Ryder Cup team after a near sweep yesterday in Session 3. Team Georgia, Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar, managed to salvage the U.S.’s only half point. The rest of the matches were mostly blowouts for the Europeans, who sent Celtic Manor into a frenzy.
Heading into Monday singles, both sides are on Pavin for his apparent indifference. He hasn’t exactly “rallied the troops” as much as he’s shrugged his shoulders and giggled from time to time.
“His dull and introverted performance at Celtic Manor now sounds like he was preparing for failure,” wrote Paul Mahoney of The Independent this morning. His response to whether he had a Crenshaw-type confidence in him has both the U.S. and European media calling him cowardly.
“Ben’s Ben and I’m me,” was his feeble reply to whether he felt a 1999-type surge.
“We know,” sighed a couple million American golf fans…
2008 hero Paul Azinger and Pavin couldn’t be more different. Azinger was both animated on the golf course and confident in the press room. He had a consistent message and the players believed in him. “Zinger in ‘10!” Justin Leonard exclaimed following their triumph, and most team members agreed.
Instead, Pavin has shelled up completely. His post-match skewering by the fans and media is certain to rival Nick Faldo’s from 2008. On the other side, the Europeans seem especially rallied around Monty, who has been engaged and confident. He even had the scoreboards modified going into Sunday so that the flags showing which teams were winning their match would be prominent for fans and players to see. He also appealed, unsuccessfully to get fans with Friday tickets entry Monday.
It may just be that Pavin is a bad faker. His best players are misfiring.
Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, two of America’s aces in the hole for their power and shot-making, have been no-shows. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, after winning two matches, were blown out in foursomes, setting the tone for a disastrous Sunday. When you’re hoping Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton can bail your team out again and again, how confident would you be in your team?
Pavin’s pairings, in truth, haven’t been all that bad. Mickelson has been lobbying to play with Johnson for awhile now, and it’s their own fault they turned in goose eggs. His most controversial selection was pairing Overton with Watson in the opening session, and that resulted in a 3 & 2 win. Burying Stricker and Woods in the first two sessions also earned them points. Considering Stricker and Woods were thumped versus Europe’s best Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, Pavin actually made the right moves.
Heading into Monday, the best thing that could possibly happen to Johnson and Mickelson is to let them play their own ball. Mickelson has an especially beatable opponent, Ryder Cup rookie Peter Hanson. Johnson should have some fire in his belly going after Martin Kaymer, who stole Johnson’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits earlier this year.
Tiger Woods (who has a pretty funny picture in The Independent, haplessly slouched up against a wall looking like his mom is late picking him up from school) should prevail in his match versus Francesco Molinari. If Stricker, who seems to be the only American who can putt at Celtic Manor, can manage a draw or win versus seemingly unbeatable Westwood in the opening match tomorrow, there may be cause for Pavin to change his tune.
As for me, Pavin doesn’t have me energized enough to cancel my tee time on the sandy links of Pyle & Kenfig and watch an American miracle Monday. I’ll catch the end in a pub - if the match even makes it that far.
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