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Pavin focusing on Champions Ryder Cup

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HONOLULU – Corey Pavin sat in the chair next to me, about to be interviewed on television after he’d completed his third round at the Sony Open. Up came a clip of his 1986 win at Waialae, and Pavin broke into a big smile.

“That’s way before I had gray hair,” he joked.

That was also well before 320-yard drives and 7,400-yard golf courses, a time when a man like Pavin could successfully plot his way around a course.

“There are still courses where I guy like me could still win,” he said. “But it’s getting tougher.”

Pavin won twice at Waialae, twice at Colonial and twice at Riviera, all considered old school, classic venues that don’t favor the bomber. But Pavin is not so nostalgic that he’d stick around longer than he should, so he’s planning to play primarily on the Champions Tour beginning next week in Kona, his debut on the 50-and-over circuit. He’ll play six on the PGA Tour as a way to stay in touch with prospective Ryder Cup players. Plus, as the Cup nears the captain may pop into a few more tournaments just to meet with players.

“I’m looking forward to the Champions Tour,” he said. “It’s a chance to be competitive and a chance to win again.”

As for the Ryder Cup, Pavin said he’s actively looking for assistants. “I’ll take four assistants,” he said. “I’d like a couple around my age and maybe a couple younger.”

Asked if he’d take a page from Paul Azinger’s “pod” strategy – matching similar styles and personalities – Pavin said that that is what most captains have done in one way or another.

Pavin’s wife Lisa is handling clothing and some other logistics. He said there are no plans to take a trip over for a few days of practice at Celtic Manor in Wales. It just doesn’t make much sense with only eight automatic qualifiers.

Pavin played on two winning Ryder Cup teams (1991, 1993) and despite his heroics at Oak Hill, was on the losing end in 1995. He posted an 8-5-0 record and was considered a bulldog for America.

With 15 wins including the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Pavin got the most out of his God-given ability as a player. There’s no reason to believe he won’t do the same in his role at U.S. captain.