Ryder Cup: U.S. captain Corey Pavin doesn't have great options

Pavin has no standouts to fill out Ryder roster

September 02, 2010|By Jeff Shain

Now the spotlight turns squarely on Corey Pavin.

Colin Montgomerie had the honor of playing first, taking his share of heat for leaving a top-10 player and a PGA Tour double winner out of Europe's Ryder Cup lineup. It's a debate that won't truly be settled until Oct. 3 — and only if the Scotsman is clutching the trophy.

But the European team captain's storm — pick three of five players ranked among the world's top 22 — was predicated by what he aptly termed "an embarrassment of riches."

On Tuesday, U.S. captain Pavin will counter with four picks to round out the U.S. team — and "riches" isn't a position from which he is dealing.

Just three candidates have won tournaments this year — none more recently than May. One of those, 2008 Cup hero Anthony Kim, has broken 70 just once since returning from thumb surgery. The world's No. 1 player surprisingly is in the pool, but that just underscores Tiger Woods' bizarro year.

None finished in the top 10 at last week's FedEx Cup playoff opener.

"I think there's going to be many choices to be made," Pavin said after the first eight slots were determined two weeks ago. "There's going to be a lot of room for maneuvering."

Or dice-rolling.

Forget about whether Woods deserves to be selected. The freshly minted divorcee tied for 12th last week at the Barclays, easing concerns that his game had run upon the same rocks as his marriage.

Besides, name four eligible candidates with better credentials — even in 2010.

Former Masters champion Zach Johnson could lend some veteran stability. He won at Colonial in May and used a strong Sunday run to finish one shot out of the PGA Championship's playoff. But those are his only top-10s of the year.

For the rest, a good performance at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship could be enough to land an invitation.

Easier said than done. In contrast to the European roster, where Miguel Angel Jimenez, Peter Hanson and Edoardo Molinari all won tournaments to make the squad, Pavin's candidates haven't exactly stepped it up under pressure.

Nick Watney took a three-shot lead into the final round at Whistling Straits, then squandered it on the first hole. Lucas Glover got into contention at Greensboro, then shot 38 on the back nine.

Glover, Kim, J.B. Holmes and Bo Van Pelt all missed the cut last week. Ben Crane matched Woods for the best finish with a tie for 12th. It was Crane's first top-15 sighting since June.

"If guys come out and get hot and play well," Pavin said, "they are going to be looked at very, very seriously."

Is there any other choice?

jshain@tribune.com

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