Aggressive U.S. rookies give Pavin extra hope

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

NEWPORT, Wales (Reuters) - United States captain Corey Pavin has been very guarded in the build-up to this week's Ryder Cup but his eyes lit up on Tuesday when he spoke about the five rookies on his team.

"I like these rookies," the 50-year-old told reporters after the first official day of practice at Celtic Manor. "They are aggressive, positive players ... and they are going to come out firing."

In Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, Pavin has two prodigious hitters while 21-year-old Rickie Fowler is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in the game.

Fellow rookies Matt Kuchar and Jeff Overton have been among the most consistent players on the PGA Tour this season while racking up 17 top-10 finishes between them.

"It's kind of a different breed from back in the old days when I was playing," said former U.S. Open champion Pavin. "These guys are aggressive, positive ... and there's not really much to tell them.

"I just want to make sure they are emotionally under control. I watched some of them today and they seemed quite fine out there, very relaxed."

Although Pavin's five rookies will be making their Cup debuts on foreign soil, he had no concerns about any possible negative reception by the fans at Celtic Manor.

"The rookies will be prepared because we've talked about it but I don't see a situation happening out there where the people will applaud for bad shots or missed putts," he said.

RESPECTFUL FANS

"Being at the K Club (in Ireland) in 2006, there was a polite pause if an American missed a putt or hit a bad shot before there was applause. The fans are very respectful of both sides and I expect the same to happen here."

With his players having taken their first look at Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten layout, Pavin was satisfied his counterpart, Colin Montgomerie, had lived up to his promise and not 'tricked up' the course.

"What he (Montgomerie) said yesterday is what's out there," Pavin added. "The rough is thick and it's hard to get out of but the fairways are the same widths as they were for the Wales Open when I played a year-and-a-half ago.

"It's set up very fairly. It's going to reward good play and shots that are off the fairway in this rough, you're going to be penalized. It kind of reminds me a lot of the way the U.S. PGA Championship is set up."

The U.S. holders will be bidding to win the Ryder Cup for the first time on European soil in 17 years but Pavin felt past encounters had no bearing on this week's edition.

"There's a lot of new blood on our team, we have a lot of aggressive, positive players and they are just going to go out and play," he said.

"I don't think they look at the history books in that regard. I want to have them look at it as a challenge and go out there and try to win for the first time in 17 years."

The 38th Ryder Cup starts on Friday with the opening fourball matches.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)