General Montgomerie and 'crazy' Pavin show hands
Two captains, two distinct styles. They have shown their first hands. Now it's the turn of their players.
Both are desperately trying to achieve the same goal. Yet they are going about it in very different ways.
Montgomerie is a student of the Ryder Cup, a deep thinker and a planner who reads nuances into everything. Pavin, no less astute, is more matter of fact and plays it as he sees it.
Take the American's faux-pas in forgetting to introduce Stewart Cink as he went down his team line-up, in an otherwise slick performance in the opening ceremony. Realising his mistake, Pavin added the former Open champion at the end, and later laughed it off, saying at least it wasn't two players he forgot.
Ryder Cup captains Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie - photo: Getty
His error was endearing, not in the same league as Nick Faldo cringingly calling Soren Hansen Soren Stenson, or asking Graeme McDowell which bit of Ireland he was from again.
But given the store set by speeches in the Ryder Cup, Montgomerie was asked whether that put Europe one up. He thought about it seriously, before saying, "Well, I suppose that was a mistake. I think he was very, very good at covering his tracks."
Then, finally joining in with the joke he beamed, "And yes, we are one-up".
Montgomerie, though, was baffled by Pavin's decision to send out world number one Tiger Woods in his third pairing with Steve Stricker, behind Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.
"I was expecting Tiger to go first or fourth. I think Tiger, being hidden, is a different move," said Montgomerie.
During the opening ceremony Pavin was asked why Woods was in the third group: "Well, the first two slots were already taken," he quipped.
Later Pavin denied he was hoping to "hide" Woods to prevent Europe building early momentum with a victory. "That type of thought doesn't even enter my mind," he said. "I wasn't hoping for anything. I just put Tiger and Steve in that slot, just thought it was a good slot for them, so I put them there.
"Phil and Dustin are playing great golf right now and they love to play together. I thought it was s pretty strong team to send out first."
What was Tiger's reaction? "He's fine," said Pavin. "He's been saying the same thing to me since I asked him if he wanted to play in the team as a pick. He just said, 'Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it.'"
"Pairings are funny. When you start looking at them, you start thinking about it. Both of these teams are so good and so deep, you can just pull two names out of a hat for each side and put those guys against each other and you're going to have a great match."
As an aside he quipped: "Obviously I did not pull two names out of a hat."
Pavin added: "I wasn't trying to anticipate anything he was doing. To me, it was all about getting Team USA out there in an order I thought was good."
Montgomerie was perplexed at Jim Furyk's ommission from the opening session after the man with the twirly swing won $10m on Sunday in the Fed Ex Cup.
"Well, he was counting the money and he's tired," laughed Pavin. "You'll see him in the afternoon." Same for Hunter Mahan, the rookie who was unbeaten and won four points out of five in Valhalla. "Someone has to sit out," said Pavin.
Montgomerie said he was also surprised to see rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton down to play for America in the final pairings on Friday morning,
"Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald would not have expected that," said Montgomerie, trying to make sense of it all.
Pavin replied: "I felt like if I waited to play them that they would probably go crazy. They are just chomping at the bit to get out there.
"Both of those guys have a lot of firepower. They can both make a lot of birdies.
I wanted them to go last because I wanted them to experience some things that were happening with the first few matches."
Montgomerie admitted Friday morning's fourballs were crucial. "Momentum has to be gained early on and then continued through the afternoon to gain the lead on Friday evening and that's my goal. That's the plan of attack here."
Pavin just said: "You know where I think it's really important to have more points is after the Sunday matches are over. Obviously I'd love to get off to a great start, but you know, just send out the guys and then we'll count them up after."
The American captain has been criticised in some circles for bringing in a military man with experience of team bonding to talk to his players - a strange thing to get flak about given that sports people regularly give motivational talks to businessmen.
But it is Montgomerie who seems more like the general.
Celtic Manor may be his El Alamein. But Corey could pave his own path to US glory.