SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin thinks the Europeans’ tweak this week of their 2010 qualifying system is a good move. Colin Montgomerie, Pavin’s opposite number, will now have three captain’s picks, instead of two as previously.
“It’s a different deal this year,” Pavin said at the Valero Texas Open, where he tied for 32nd at seven under. “Last time, we were the ones trying to break a losing streak. Now, they are trying to win.
“Changing to three picks must have meant we did something right [in 2008]. They are [now] trying to do something to help them.”
The 2010 Ryder Cup Matches are set for Oct. 1-3 on the 2010 course at Celtic Manor Golf Club in Newport, Wales.
Before the last matches at Vallhalla Golf Club in Louisville, U.S. captain Paul Azinger asked for and was granted by PGA of America the right to have four captain’s picks, instead of the customary two.
“When I became captain, I asked if I could have 12 captain’s picks. They just kind of laughed,” Pavin said. “I was serious— the more the better. But I also think there is some merit to playing your way on the team.”
Pavin, a fearsome Ryder Cup competitor with an overall 8-5-0 record in three matches as a player, said he has not yet had an in-person meeting with Montgomerie.
The two have traded brief phone messages, and of course are well acquainted after years of golfing clashes.
“I called him when he was named captain and left a message and he called me and left one a couple of weeks ago before the [qualifying] announcement,” Pavin said.
“The European PGA Tour had made the decision to expand [the captain’s picks], but I’m sure Monty had a lot to do with that.”
Pavin will make his first-ever trip to Wales this summer to play in the Wales Open at the newly opened 2010 Course. He knows he already has his work cut out for him as U.S. captain next year.
“Going overseas is always harder in general,” he said. “We haven’t won since 1993. It’s a big advantage to the home team. Especially [at] a place we haven’t played before.
“They will have the crowd, they will have the weather and the conditions on their side. That’s why I have started to encourage as many Americans as possible to come over to Wales next fall.”
Pavin said the American team faces one particular problem every other year, and it’s one he doesn’t see getting corrected any time soon. The 2010 Course in Wales is now the site of the Wales Open on the European Tour. The PGA of America almost always chooses courses not on the PGA Tour schedule—in other words, courses that the American pros rarely play.
The 2012 Ryder Cup is scheduled for Medinah Golf Club outside of Chicago, a longtime U.S. Open venue, but rarely played any other time by U.S. pros.
“By the time we get over [to Wales] they will have three years experience playing there and we will have none, unless some of our guys go over there,” Pavin said. “It’s a bigger advantage for them [even] than it would be for us if we played Tour courses.”
One advantage Pavin does figure to have next year will be the appearance of World No. 1 player, Tiger Woods. “Provided he makes the team,” the captain deadpanned.
Woods missed the U.S. victory last year because of his knee surgery after the U.S. Open, but Pavin said he talked with him last fall at Woods’ charity event.
“I know how bad he wants to win the Ryder Cup. I’ve seen it in his eyes,” Pavin said. To those who might say the U.S. team did just fine at Valhalla without Woods, Pavin has a ready reply: “There is no doubt the team has got to be a better one with Tiger on it, are you kidding me?”
While in Wales in July, Pavin said he will be checking out the team hotel, the transportation from the airport and the course layout.
“Plus, I want to play well and win,” he said. “I can’t wait to get over there and get started.”