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Weary Pavin back on course after Ryder Cup thrills

It was a long flight back to the United States for Corey Pavin, giving the Ryder Cup captain plenty of time to wonder "What if?" after his team's narrow loss to Europe.

A slow start, nasty weather, wardrobe malfunctions and questionable pairings gave way to a rousing finish that nearly saw the U.S. team pull off an unprecedented comeback Monday.

But Pavin didn't stew about missed opportunities on the way home from Wales.

"I'm not one of those guys. I did the best I could with everything, all my decisions," Pavin said Wednesday. "The Ryder Cup is over. It was great, but it's time to move on."

He now has the difficult task of trying to regroup from one emotionally draining experience by stepping into another — a major championship.

Despite his Ryder Cup commitment, which included an extra day overseas, Pavin stayed in the field for the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, the final major of the Champions Tour season.

From his perspective, the tournament, held at the recently renovated TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm outside of Washington, offers him a chance to decompress from Ryder hysteria and get back to the place where he is most comfortable — on the course.

"It's probably good I have a tournament to play this weekend," Pavin said. "It keeps my mind occupied on something else rather than having nothing to do and thinking about last week so much. It was a hard week, it was a great week and it was an emotional week."

Fred Couples, who has served as President's Cup captain and will return to the role in 2011, said that Pavin will have to make a mental and physical shift to get back into the swing of things.

"To be honest, I'm sure it's ... I don't know what the word would be, not a letdown, because even if they won, he'd be coming here with a high — but he probably hasn't played golf in a week," Couples said.

Indeed, Pavin said that because of his preparations for the Ryder Cup, he hadn't swung a club for six weeks before Wednesday's Pro-Am round.

"There was a lot that happened — there were a lot of hours of the day that were filled with things to do," he said. "It was fun, it was a challenge and that part of my life is over now. It's time to move on and get back to playing golf."

Pavin enters the Senior Players at No. 13 on the Charles Schwab Cup points list and No. 19 on the money list. But several players said now that Pavin's duties as Ryder Cup captain are over, he will become more of a factor in the Champions Tour's homestretch.

"Now he can shift his focus strictly to his own play and being as much of a bulldog as he is, a tough competitor, he'll be focused on the Champions Tour and playing well right here," Fred Funk said. "He'll be a force to be reckoned with, especially at a lot of the venues we play here."

Avenel, which hosted PGA Tour events from 1987-2004 and again in 2006, might be a familiar location for many of the players in the field but the course, which was completely rebuilt at a cost of $25 million, remains a tournament unknown.

"I'm real curious to see what we're going to shoot out there," said Funk, a Maryland native. "It's going to beat a lot of people up. It's a tough par-70. I'll take even par right now."

Points leader Bernhard Langer thought the field was going to be in for a long weekend, especially if the cool and wet weather continued.

"It's really, really tough. It's a difficult test of golf," Langer said. "The ball's not rolling whatsoever. You've got to drive the ball, you've got to hit some good iron shots. It's going to take a complete player to win here. You can't have a weakness and expect to win."

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