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Ryder Cup captains tee up at Celtic Manor

Those expecting this week’s Celtic Manor Wales Open to signal the start of a Ryder Cup war of words between the respective captains may have to wait a little longer.

European skipper Colin Montgomerie and his American counterpart Corey Pavin will both tee it up on the Twenty Ten course when the event gets underway tomorrow, offering an intriguing sub-plot as the field chase the £295, 000 first prize and valuable points in the Race to Dubai.

Both are very much on a charm offensive, in contrast to the tension and frostiness which usually exists between Ryder Cup captains.

Of course, that may well change in the next 16 months.

But for now at least, the pair positively radiate politeness and platitudes.

“The Ryder Cup is the most dynamic and intense experience a competitive golfer will ever have and for me personally, the dream will begin to become reality with my trip to Wales in June,” said Pavin, who took over the reins from Paul Azinger last December.

“I have heard a lot of great things about the Twenty Ten course.

“I can’t wait to see how it is set up for the Celtic Manor Wales Open, as well as imagining how it may be for the Ryder Cup itself.

“Colin and I have met each other on three occasions in the Ryder Cup and it will be great to see him again.

“We are both passionate guys with a genuine love for the game.

“It will be fantastic to play in the same tournament together on the same course where we will both have the honour of being captains in what I believe is the greatest event in golf.”

And if the 1995 US Open champion is to be believed, there is unlikely to be a repeat of the mind games between Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo which characterised the build-up to last year’s event in Valhalla, Kentucky, where the United States triumphed 16.5-11.5.

“I’m determined to lead the USA with passion and determination, but in the spirit of great sportsmanship and camaraderie,” said 49-year-old Pavin.

“We need to keep this wonderful event in perspective, particularly in these tough global economic times.

“I look forward to bringing my wife, Lisa, to Wales and connecting with the people. Don’t be surprised to find us hanging out in pubs this week at the Wales Open enjoying friendly banter about the possibilities of 2010.”

And Montgomerie was equally generous with his bonhomie.

“It’s tremendous news that Corey is playing,” said the Scot.

“Throughout his career, Corey has shown himself as a great competitor and I’m sure, like me, he will be striving to win the Wales Open as well as looking ahead to his own plans for next year’s Ryder Cup.

“It is set up to challenge the best and, being a course with a whole host of tempting options and punishing hazards, there will be much for Corey and I to examine.”

If the pair carry last weekend’s form into tomorrow, it will be the Californian who will gain the upper hand, on the course, at least.

Pavin shot a final-round 65 at the Colonial in Texas three days ago – his lowest round of the year – to finish joint-18th.

Montgomerie, by contrast, could only card a closing 75 at the European Open, leaving him 12 shots adrift of winner Christian Cevaer.

His ended the tournament with a triple-bogey seven on the final hole, after which he lamented that he had “no confidence at all.”

 

June 3, 2009




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