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Pavin's decision on Tiger could have shade of Gray

by | CBSSports.com Columnist

Dustin Johnson will have a fascinating tale to tell on Ryder Cup media day, the one about how a road is a bunker and a one-stroke lead is a one-stroke loss all at the same time.

Tiger or no Tiger? Corey Pavin has an unenviable decision to make. (US Presswire)  
Tiger or no Tiger? Corey Pavin has an unenviable decision to make. (US Presswire)  
But Corey Pavin will have an even better one -- what to do with Tiger Woods, and how to make it look like Jim Gray didn't have anything to do with it.

Pavin technically has another 23 days to decide which four golfers to choose to fill out of Ryder Cup dance card, and Woods will either be one of those four or Pavin will the proud recipient of a king-hell second guess that will be matched only by the morality police who will say he did the Lord's work.

Both prospects stink with equal aroma, and Gray's contribution -- swearing that Pavin told him Woods was going to be on the team while Pavin denied saying such a thing -- only makes the choice weirder.

In truth, of course, this looks like a non-story in the making because it seems unlikely that Pavin will omit Woods. He might never have been a factor at the PGA, but he was better than he had been, and finding four players who would replace him will be harder than it looks.

And that's the last and most important thing to remember: Pavin has to find four golfers he would rather have than Woods, and knowing the hailstorm of abuse he would take from people who pay attention to the Ryder Cup would turn the American experience into an enormous and painful distraction.

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And the American Ryder Cup experience in Europe has traditionally been painful enough without distractions.

It is Pavin's bad fortune Woods chose his year in charge to lose his game (among other things), and it is to his further detriment that Gray turned the selection process into a severe game of gotcha.

Omit Woods, and he looks like he did so in part to spite Gray, even if he didn't. Include him, and Gray gets to say he got it right, even if he didn't. Either way, Pavin gets to relive that special day over and over again, and if there's more fun to be had than that, it includes a knee in the throat.

The PGA will go down in history as a bizarre and largely very entertaining event. Like the British Open winner, Martin Kaymer was largely unknown before Sunday, and Bubba Watson is about to become widely known as the next great long-distance hitter in the game.

But as ever, Woods loomed at the horizon, and even if he says not one more word about the Ryder Cup, Corey Pavin will be living Woods' dream for him.

And wishing he had been given another to try and do it the way his predecessors did -- without a month of migraine lead-ins.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast Sports Bay Area


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