SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — In an argument as acrimonious as any Ryder Cup match, a Golf Channel reporter pointed his finger at Corey Pavin’s chest and accused the U.S. captain of lying about comments that Tiger Woods will be picked for the team.
Jim Gray approached Pavin after a news conference Wednesday, and they stood no more than a foot apart, facing off as if they were in the middle of a boxing ring. Pavin’s wife, Lisa, pulled out her mobile phone and recorded the conversation.
Pavin said Gray called him “a liar” and said, “You’re going down.”
As Gray turned to walk away, Pavin barked at him, “You’re just going to walk away?” They continued to argue, although not loud enough that their words could be heard by about a half-dozen reporters.
By golf’s gentile standards, this was quite the rumble.
Gray reported Tuesday evening that Pavin told him he would pick Woods for the Ryder Cup if he didn’t make the team on his own at the PGA Championship. He quoted Pavin as saying — it was not on camera — “Of course I’m going to. He’s the best player in the world.”
Pavin was so angry when he heard about this Wednesday morning that he tweeted while on the golf course that “Jim Gray has misquoted me re: picking Tiger. I never said such a thing and will not say a thing until 09/07.”
Pavin is to announce his four captain’s picks on Sept. 7 in New York.
The Golf Channel said in a statement that it stands “100 percent behind the accuracy of Jim Gray’s report. As far as any subsequent conversation between Jim and Corey Pavin, it was meant to be private and should remain as such.”
Gray had said on air earlier Wednesday after Pavin’s tweet that there was “not one part” of what Pavin said that had been misquoted.
“And quite frankly, I happen to like Corey Pavin,” Gray said. “I’ve known him an awfully long time, and in this instance, he is being disingenuous and is not telling the truth.”
Pavin said in his news conference that he spoke with Gray outside the locker room at Whistling Straits on Tuesday.
“He asked me a few questions and his interpretation of what I said is incorrect,” Pavin said. “There’s nobody that’s promised any picks right now. It would be disrespectful to everybody that’s trying to make the team. I’ve got quite a few people I’m looking at. I would not disrespect any of the players that are potential players on the team, and obviously there was a misinterpretation of what I said. And that is an incorrect quote.”
Pavin became even more angry after Gray had left the room.
“He called me a liar, which is one thing I don’t do,” Pavin said. “I said he was full of something. I’m not going to have someone call me a liar.”
Pavin noted that he has been asked about Woods and the Ryder Cup since the start of the year, and he had never revealed any of his plans.
“Of all the people I know in the media business, he would not be my first choice to tell that to,” Pavin said. “He wouldn’t be my second, third or fourth choice, either.”
As for Woods?
He can make this a moot point at Whistling Straits by playing well enough to earn his way onto the team. Woods likely will need to at least finish in the top 10 in the PGA Championship, where the points are worth double.
“I think Tiger would be an exceptional addition to the team, and he’s certainly under considerable consideration,” Pavin said. “There’s a lot of guys that I’m looking at. Like I said, he’s definitely high on the list, and I’ll be looking at it for the next three weeks after this week.”
European captain Colin Montgomerie tried to offer his two pence.
When the Scot was asked what he would do if he were in Pavin’s position, Montgomerie took the high road — briefly.
“Oh, that’s a very difficult, dangerous and undiplomatic question,” he said. “But of course I’d pick him, yes.”
The Associated Press