Pavin brings quiet determination to Ryder Cup

By Doug FergusonSeptember 25, 2010, 6:54 pm
Ryder Cup

NORTON, Massachusetts – Corey Pavin never saw Jim Furyk sneaking up behind him, nor did he flinch when Furyk slammed the back end of a golf club into the vinyl cushion on the locker room bench where Pavin sat.

Pavin slowly turned to see Furyk smiling at him.

“Wait until Friday of the Ryder Cup,” Furyk said to his American captain. “You’ll be jumpy.”

“I think I’ll be all right,” Pavin said with a grin, but barely a pulse.

Pavin is not one to get flustered easily, whether he’s hitting a 4-wood from the 18th fairway at Shinnecock Hills with the U.S. Open on the line, staring down a TV reporter in an awkward argument, or standing over a tough chip on the final hole of a Ryder Cup match.

He’s been that way his whole career.

“The oxymoron is he’s kind of quiet,” said Paul Goydos, one of Pavin’s assistant captains at the Ryder Cup. “Here’s this unbelievably aggressive, self-confident guy – and he’s quiet. He scraps and battles, but he never yells. He plays as this tough-as-nails linebacker in the mud. His game is like a bulldog. And his demeanor is quiet.”

That’s what Pavin brings as U.S. captain to the Ryder Cup, which starts Friday at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. Few others have played with so much determination and self-belief when it was all they had.

The Americans are underdogs at this Ryder Cup, which is only appropriate considering whom they have as a captain, the ultimate underdog. In a game that can resemble a battle of bazookas, Pavin carried a pop gun. His ammunition was confidence, and he never ran out.

To look only at his abilities led to questions of how he could survive on tour.

“I’ve got a limited amount of talent,” Pavin said. “But I use everything I have to play the game. There’s certainly guys who are more physically gifted than me. What I like about me when I play golf is I never give up. I’m always looking for a positive thing to happen.”

Despite being one of the shortest hitters, he managed to win 15 times on the PGA Tour including the 1995 U.S. Open. He made the first of his three Ryder Cup teams in 1991, the year he led the PGA Tour money list.

Without prompting, Tiger Woods referred to him as “one of the greatest players ever, considering what he had to work with.”

Goydos has heard that line before. He recalls comments earlier this year by John Mallinger and John Merrick, who were paired with Pavin in tournaments about a month apart. Both went to their swing coach and said, “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen play golf.”

“Where he shoots 67 and 68 from compared with where I’m shooting 70 from is unfathomable,” Goydos said. “At Hartford this year, Bubba (Watson) hit it 100 yards past him in the playoff, and Corey still didn’t think that he couldn’t win. He’s got that mentality of ‘I’m going to win with what I’ve got. You try to beat me.’

“What others see as a shortcoming, he sees as the ultimate challenge.”

Pavin has heard that about as long as he has been playing. Not long enough off the tee. Not good enough for the PGA Tour.

Only once did he think about quitting, as a teenager when he wasn’t shooting the kind of scores he expected. His father encouraged him to not be so hard on himself and to stick with it. The next year, Pavin won enough to get the attention of UCLA.

“I think I learned a good lesson back then,” he said. “I just have to believe in myself. That’s a huge thing for me.”

Even when he failed to get his card right away and had to play overseas, he found confidence not in where he played but whom he beat. The first victory was the South African PGA, where he held off a rising star named Nick Price. That got him onto the European Tour, where he closed out his summer by winning the German Open over Seve Ballesteros.

“We all have a certain amount of ability, and you can only maximize what you have,” Pavin said. “If you take me on paper and put me on tour, you’d think I would be off tour in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t last out here. But we don’t play on paper. We play with our hearts and our minds. I’ve just worked hard and played hard. And my career has been OK.”

Pavin played in only three Ryder Cups, but he took to the matches immediately. He made his debut at Kiawah Island, beating Steven Richardson in singles on a day every point mattered.

He won three of his four team matches in 1993, none of the matches reaching the 17th hole. His Ryder Cup moment came at Oak Hill in 1995, when he and Loren Roberts were all square against Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. Pavin chipped in for the birdie that won the match.

“My favorite memory of him in the Ryder Cup is Oak Hill – and watching him running up the dunes to see where he was aiming at Kiawah,” Davis Love III said. “He was always having to chip over hills and bunkers, but he just kept fighting away.”

Pavin gets dwarfed at the Ryder Cup by his European counterpart, Colin Montgomerie, whose personality is everything Pavin’s is not. Montgomerie has a quick wit. Pavin has dry humor. Montgomerie can switch from self-deprecation to disgust within minutes. Pavin never loses his cool.

He came close at the PGA Championship, then TV reporter Jim Gray stormed into the media center to challenge him. Gray had reported that Pavin told him he was taking Woods as a captain’s pick. Pavin countered that he never said such a thing. As Gray poked his finger at Pavin’s chest, Pavin never took his eyes off his opponent. He never so much as blinked.

Still to be determined is whether Pavin can use the feel and instincts he relied so much upon as a player in his role as captain. He has five rookies, including two players who have never won on the PGA Tour. He has Woods, who hasn’t won this year while trying to return from the chaos in his personal life.

Typically in a Ryder Cup, players get the credit when they win, captains get the blame when they lose. Pavin expects that, and will treat it as he has in his nearly three decades on tour.

“If I play my best and someone beats me, that’s OK,” he said. “If I’ve done everything I can do, then I’m satisfied.”

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.