You can see the passion in his eyes
and hear that intensity in his voice. The
patriotism – however misplaced it may
have been – that inspired Pavin to wear
that Desert Storm hat still burns brightly.
The pride he feels at captaining his coun-
try is palpable. It’s his strength. It may
also be his weakness. Pavin is charming
and approachable with a sense of humor,
too, but lately he has begun to take this
biennial battle of ball and stick rather
He is so desperate to win, he has begun
to speak in politicians’ mumbo jumbo lest
he might let slip his secret battle plans.
Perhaps the pressure is getting to him.
Perhaps he has forgotten that he said
recently the captain’s influence is limited.
“I can’t make the ball go in the hole,”
he said. “The players win the Ryder Cup
but the captains lose it. That seems to be
the way it is … which is fine.”
It doesn’t feel fine any more. Competi-
tive little devil, isn’t he?
THIS COULD GET ROWDY.
too rowdy if Hunter Mahan gets his way.
Captain Pavin almost fell off his chair
when he found out.
“You know, you almost want the crowd
to boo us,” Mahan said to Pavin’s horror. “I
love that edgy atmosphere with the spec-
tators almost being like a football crowd.
In certain situations, it’s fun to trash-talk.
Sometimes I wish I was good at basketball
because that sport is so one-on-one. You
just look at the guy in front of you and
work out how to beat him. I love that it’s
mano-a-mano. That’s why it’s great when
we play match play.”
Mahan can expect to receive a quiet
word from his captain. Or maybe Pavin will
simply present him with that old Desert
Storm cap, wind him up, and send him out.
Mahan speaks quietly and hides behind
his wraparound shades but underneath
“You almost want
the crowd to boo
– Hunter Mahan
his mild manners there clearly lurks a
cold-blooded gunslinger. Think David
Duval meets Dirty Harry. He’s the USA’s
It’s been quite a Ryder Cup conversion
for the 28-year-old from Orange, Calif.
It’s second only to St. Paul on the road to
Damascus. Before the 2008 Ryder Cup at
Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., Mahan courted
controversy without ever having played in
“The whole week is extremely long,”
. “You’ve got dinners
every night. You’re just a slave that week.”
Oops. Call for Captain Zinger. Paul
Azinger picked him as a wild card and
Mahan saw the light. He was one the stars
of the victorious U.S. team, playing all five
matches and winning three-and-a-half
points in an undefeated debut.
“I love the Ryder Cup,” he says now.
“It’s incredible. The history. The passion.
The energy. I’ve been to great sporting
events like the Super Bowl but there’s
nothing cooler than the Ryder Cup.”
That’s more like it.
Mahan was desperate to play his
way onto the team this time. He did so
with victories at the Waste Management
Phoenix Open and the WGC-Bridgestone
THIS COULD GET IRISH.
be well advised to download the unofficial
All-Ireland sporting anthem and blast it
through his players’ iPods to get them
used to it before they arrive in Wales. “Ole,
ole-ole-ole, ole, ole.” And pack the Advil.
There will be eight from the Repub-
lic and the North standing shoulder to
shoulder at Celtic Manor: Rory McIlroy,
Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington,
vice-captains Darren Clarke and Paul Mc-
Ginley, and caddies JP Fitzgerald (McIl-
roy), Ronan Flood (Harrington) and Colin
Byrne (Edoardo Molinari).
The smart money is on best pals Mc-
Ilroy and U.S. Open champion McDowell
leading Europe out as Monty’s No. 1 pair-
ing on Friday morning. So, Big Macs for
breakfast for the Americans.
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