Corey Pavin seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Smart guy. Competitive. Should make a fine Ryder Cup captain.
On Sunday, however, Pavin told Reuters that Tiger Woods is no shoe-in for his Ryder Cup team in October. In fact, Pavin added, "I'm not going to treat him different than any other player."
Woods is currently 11th on the list of Ryder Cup points for the Americans. The Top Eight get a spot, and the captain picks the next four.
"I'd love to have him on the team," Pavin said. "But he needs to be playing well."
Okay, Corey, sure, I'll give you that, we don't want Tiger to be playing less than well. But does that mean less than well for him, or less than well for any golfer?
Meaning, Tiger Woods, even when he is playing poorly, is playing better than most golfers in the world.
Some of the Americans currently ahead of Woods in the Ryder Cup standings include Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, and Matt Kuchar. Good golfers all around.
Is there a great golfer there? Somebody who would scare the crap out of Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter?
Is perhaps Mr. Pavin reacting to the Tiger Woods image right now more so than the Tiger Woods golfer? I believe Tiger Woods is still the No. 1 ranked player in the world—and that is with hardly playing at all this year.
He missed one cut this year. If we start excluding golfers who have missed cuts this year, well, we won't have a team.
Corey might want to check the records of American golfers in match play over the last dozen years. After doing that, would you really consider not adding Tiger Woods to your team?
When Tiger struggles, it is magnified 100 times more so than any golfer, except maybe Phil Mickelson. When these guys struggle (Tiger and Phil) it really means they have come down, temporarily, to everyone else's level.
But we all know with a flip of a switch they can elevate themselves back up to the top. Would you really want to be without that capability in a Ryder Cup, on European soil?
Do you really want to exclude our best match-play guy because he is not playing up to the standards of the world's best player?
Obviously, there is a lot to be decided between now and September, and this thing will probably work itself out. Tiger will either make the Top Eight or not be healthy enough to play.
The other scenario just doesn't make any sense.
If Tiger Woods is, let's say, 11th or 12th in points right before the Ryder Cup, yet healthy, and Pavin leaves him off the team, well, let's just say it would be a decision Corey Pavin may have to live with for the rest of his life.
There is quite a separation between the Top 11 golfers on the list (Mickelson through Woods) and the next group, so it is very unlikely Woods would slip any lower than 11th.
But watch out! Because that next group is filled with some legendary names, like Nick Watney, Jason Bohn, Bill Haas, and Jeff Overton.
I'm sure these names make the Euros lose sleep nightly.
Two years ago the U.S. reclaimed the Ryder Cup from Europe, and they did it without Tiger Woods, who was injured. They can win without him, they've proven that, but using that as an excuse to leave him off the team is absurd.
You want your best team. Period. Two years ago the U.S. won because they had a captain who had courage and the smarts to outwit his counterpart.
Let's hope Corey Pavin can be at least half the captain Paul Azinger was and make the tough decisions. In this case, the tough decision would not be leaving your best player off the team, but putting your best player on the team, despite his image away from the golf course.
The Ryder Cup is played on the golf course, not in the magazines.