The fiery 5-foot-9 man leading the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team played in just three Cups, but Corey Pavin was memorably tenacious, racking up eight points in 13 matches. His chip-in on the last hole to beat Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer in 1995 at Oak Hill remains one of the most indelible shots in recent Cup history.
Colin Montgomerie, Europe's captain, was undefeated in eight singles matches (6-0-2), amassing 23.5 points in 36 matches over eight Cups. Point to a painful recent Ryder Cup moment for Team USA — say, Tiger and Phil flaming out in the Friday morning fourball in 2004 — and Monty was likely there. (He and partner Padraig Harrington won that one, 2 and 1.)
How will the pair fare as captains at Celtic Manor in Wales? We won't know until Oct. 1-3, but the following interviews throw light on their strategies, feelings for one another, and what they absolutely, positively must have at their disposal in their respective team rooms.
What do you most admire about the other captain?
Pavin Says: Monty's playing record is unbelievable. I believe he won seven money titles in a row in Europe, which is amazing. His passion for the Ryder Cup is incredible. I think he'll be a very good captain because he loves the Ryder Cup so much.
Monty Says: He's a great guy, but I really admire his passion for the Ryder Cup. We certainly share that passion. We get on very well, and I think we're both of a similar mindset with regards to the spirit in which we want the match to be played. We will enjoy the week and ensure a great atmosphere.
What made you a good Ryder Cup player?
Pavin Says: I love match play. To me it's the highest level of competition. There's more pressure in the Ryder Cup than any major I've ever played in. I love the one-on-one nature of it, playing for your country.
Monty Says: I love the Ryder Cup, and I also enjoy being part of a team, which doesn't happen too often in an individual sport. And it feels pretty inspiring to stand on the tee representing the whole of Europe.
When you were a Ryder Cup player, who was the toughest opponent to play in singles?
Pavin Says: Peter Baker beat me at the Belfry in '93 — he putted great. That was the toughest match because I lost. I played Bernhard [Langer] in '95, and he was probably the toughest player I played against. I won the match, 3 and 2. I knew he'd be tough.
Monty Says: The toughest I've played against personally was Payne Stewart. [With the U.S. comeback already secure and hostile fans bellowing at Montgomerie, Stewart conceded a lengthy birdie putt on 18 to give the Scotsman a 1-up victory at Brookline in 1999.]
What shot do you most remember from your Ryder Cup career?
Pavin Says: The chip-in at Oak Hill in '95 was the most exciting shot I've ever hit. The fans were chanting "USA! USA!," it was the last match on Saturday, and we beat Faldo and Bernhard to go up 9-7 going into the singles.
Monty Says: Holing the winning putt in 2004. [Montgomerie made a par putt to beat David Toms 1-up.] I was a captain's pick that year, and I hadn't been playing well, but Bernhard believed in me, and his decision helped revive my career.
What's one thing you'll make sure to have in your team room?
Pavin Says: Some TVs [with] American satellite feeds so we can watch shows from the U.S.
Monty Says: My vice-captains. [Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley.]
You've taken younger players under your wing at the Ryder Cup. Who did that for you?
Pavin Says: Dave Stockton was a good first captain and did a lot to calm me down. I was so excited to play in '91. I won the money title that year, so my game was in great shape, but it took me a couple matches before I got in a good rhythm.
Monty Says: Bernhard in my first Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island [in '91] — he was a senior partner, and I felt flattered that Bernard Gallacher had enough confidence to pair me with him. I first played with him on Saturday in the four-?balls, and we won 2 and 1.
Ryder Cups are famously nerve-wracking. When were you most nervous?
Pavin Says: Watching Hale Irwin and Bernhard play the last hole at Kiawah. [Langer missed a six-foot par putt to give the U.S. the Cup.] As far as playing, it was the last hole Saturday afternoon [at Oak Hill in 1995], the one I chipped in on.
Monty Says: Usually on the first tee, not wanting to let my partner down — or in the foursomes, putting him in a tough spot. The most nervous was my first tee shot of my first Ryder Cup in 1991.
Who was your favorite playing partner?
Pavin Says: Tom Lehman and I were paired in alternate-shot in '95, against Monty and Faldo. On 18, I drove it into the rough. Tom asked me what to do on the next shot. I told him, "Just hit it at the pin!" So he hit it right at the pin, and we won the hole and the match.
Monty Says: I have enjoyed fabulous partnerships, from playing with Bernhard to Padraig Harrington to six-time major champion Nick Faldo. [Faldo and Monty won 2Â½ of a possible 4 points at the Belfry in '93, beating, among others, Pavin and Wadkins, 3 and 2].
Who was the best for Ryder Cup team spirit?
Pavin Says: Payne [Stewart] loved the Ryder Cup. In my first Cup at Kiawah, at our condo building, which both teams shared, he blasted "Born in the USA" ? out the window so all could hear.
Monty Says: Lots of guys for different reasons, though three Spaniards spring to mind: Seve [Ballesteros], Jose-Maria [Olazabal] and Sergio [Garcia].
What makes you most anxious about being captain?
Pavin Says: The hardest thing is to watch the guys play and not control hitting a shot — especially if it comes down to one match.
Monty Says: The opening speech!
What's the most nervous you ever saw another player?
Pavin Says: Hale Irwin and Bernhard [in 1991]. Those were two very nervous guys. It's not often the whole thing comes down to one match. They had to be quaking in their shoes.
Monty Says: Everyone is so professional that they pretty much internalize it, though obviously I have seen some pretty shaky first tee shots.
Which of your Ryder Cup moments do you most treasure?
Pavin Says: When we threw [Dave] Stockton in the ocean at Kiawah. Watching Davis [Love] make his clinching putt in '93 at the Belfry was fun too. [Love made a six-foot par putt to beat Costantino Rocca.] Those two were pretty cool.
Monty Says: Sunday at the Belfry [in 2002] with Sam Torrance as my captain. He put me out first in singles against Scott Hoch. The atmosphere was amazing. My mission was to put blue on the board, and I defeated Hoch on the 14th hole.
Which Ryder Cup moment do you most regret?
Pavin Says: I don't regret anything about the Ryder Cup. Win or lose, it's been a great experience.
Monty Says: Tricky. Anytime I didn't win! I still don't like to think back to the 1993 match at the Belfry. Nick Faldo and I against Chip Beck and John Cook. We lost by one hole, and on Sunday, [U.S. captain] Tom Watson referred to John and Chip's win as the heart of their victory. A tough loss.
Which former captains have you consulted, and what advice have they offered?
Pavin Says: I've talked to everybody. The best piece of advice is to just go with my gut instinct.
Monty Says: All the captains I have played under I have taken lots of tips purely from the experience of playing under them. I've been storing it up over the years.
What will make you a great captain?
Pavin Says: Leadership, passion, knowledge, and a willingness to bring people in around me who will help Team USA win.
Monty Says: I hope everything I have learnt from past captains during my eight Ryder Cups will help me tread the right path. I am a relatively young captain , so I know my players well, as I see them on tour. The result will decide whether or not I am "great."