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General Montgomerie and 'crazy' Pavin show hands

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Rob Hodgetts | 20:07 UK time, Thursday, 30 September 2010

Two captains, two distinct styles. They have shown their first hands. Now it's the turn of their players.

Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin's first pairings for Friday's fourballs, and the explanations they gave for them, say much about the men as individuals.

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    Frankly most of this Captain stuff is baloney, getting a good team spirit and making sure the players have what they need to play their natural focused game is all you need - over analysing all this can back-fire.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree that strategy does play a big part in the Ryder Cup but is it really necessary to get the military involved. The UK and USA are already seen as warmongering nations on the international stage, do we really have to bring it into golf?

    I agree that motivational speaking can be done by any high achiever but Pavin should have been a bit more savvy on the subject of involving the military after his gaffes in the 1991 RC at Kiawah......but he couldn't let it lie could he.

    Time to shut up and let the golf do the talking, the sooner they are back on their plane with 1 less piece of luggage the better.

  • Comment number 3.

    Love the Ryder Cup, Europe vs USA, there's nothing like it out there, only time you get to feel proud of being European.

    Can't say I'm feeling too confident. Corey Pavin seems to be one of those under-rated guys who have an annoying habit of winning. Monty is loveable enough, but comes across as a bit of a liability, I also can't see him being particularly motivational in the dressing room, Glenn Roeder springs to mind for some reason.

    For these reasons I'm tempted to back the USA. Win-Win.

    Go Europe! (or USA and win me some consolation money).

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm surprised by the reaction to the fourth game. Sky's pundits were asking if it was a foregone conclusion - that is ridiculous. These guys are Ryder Cup rookies, which may count for something, but it's still golf they're playing, and they're good players. In particular, it has to be a worry what Watson could do to the drivable par fours.

    The result is a match where all the pressure is on Europe. If the two rookies, who many are writing off, beat Monty's two wildcards playing together, it will be a big blow to the captain. Especially as Harrington should not have been selected in the first place.

  • Comment number 5.

    Cannot find anything in the "analysis" to confirm that "Montgomerie is a student of the Ryder Cup, a deep thinker and a planner who reads nuances into everything." In fact, if anything he comes across as being simply confused, while Pavin seems to have things worked out. "I felt like if I waited to play them that they would probably go crazy." and "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." That sounds like a man who knows his players. And what pearls of wisdom do we get to confirm Monty knows as much about his? "Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald would not have expected that." Deep thinker?

  • Comment number 6.

    Agree that too much is made of the Captains. They hinder more than help, Seve excepted. Pavin comes across more as one of the boys. Monty is more of a Captain only because his naturally aloof style. His VC's however, will not let him foul up. Much more impressive than the Yanks backroom boys. Like the idea of saving the Molinari's for the Foursomes...I hope that's his plan. Looks good. 3-1 Europe after the morning.

  • Comment number 7.

    Let battle commence and may the best team win. Hopefully Europe!!

    I don't have sky so will keep in touch via the BBC website and will watch the highlights at night.

    Hope you all enjoy the golf.

  • Comment number 8.

    This is going to be a very close Ryder Cup,some bookies have already paid out on a european win...that's insane..the only weak link in the American team I can see is Jeff Overton and he'll get to play on the first morning with the bomber Bubba Watson..I'd be happy with 2-2 after the fourballs.

  • Comment number 9.

    Far, far too much is made about who plays with who and who they will play against. I'm not quite sure why the media hype all this up so much either. 'Oh! look there's two rookies playing against two expereinced guys, what a mistake Pavin has made ha! ha!' and all this sort of talk.
    Golf is a game where you basically play against yourself and unlike tennis, football, boxing etc where the opponents tacics play a large part in the outcome, it matters little in golf if the other guy is playing well or badly, it is what you do on the course with your own clubs that counts.

  • Comment number 10.

    Far too much made of speeches and captains role. Some even suggesting Faldo's speech effected results in 2008.....tosh! In fact the overall criticism of Faldo,s captaincy was way over the top. There were times on that last day in 2008 when if a couple of tight matches had gone the our way, then it would have been very close, but we had no chance of winning did we because Azinger had made such a good opening speech.


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