Drama aside, expect Tiger at Ryder Cup

Tiger Woods has told Corey Pavin he will accept a captain's pick to play on the United States Ryder Cup team.

Translated into simple English, that means that come October in Wales, Woods will be at Celtic Manor in the red, white and blue.

All any captain would need to hear from the world No. 1 is that his heart's into representing his country and that he wants to play.

So Woods, one way or another, will be on the team.

Not that Pavin is going to say that.

Why?

Because, as he noted Wednesday ahead of the PGA Championship, "it would be disrespectful to everybody that's trying to make the team."

Fair enough.

He won't say it, but let's not pretend that if Woods doesn't make one of the eight automatic qualifying spots after this week -- he's currently placed tenth -- that Pavin wouldn't use one of his four captain's picks on him.

So ignore all the soft-shoe shuffling Pavin's doing now, which led to a heated altercation with Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray on Wednesday.

The genteel world of golf was turned on its head after Gray reported late Tuesday that Pavin told him Woods would be chosen.

Pavin responded on Wednesday that "there was a misinterpretation of what I said, and that is an incorrect quote."

The combustible Gray confronted the feisty Pavin after a news conference Wednesday, pointing his finger at the American captain and calling him a liar.

"You're going down," Pavin later said Gray told him.

I'm not sure how Gray thinks he's going to bring him down, though let's not forget the interviewer was most recently the genius behind LeBron James' unbearable made-for-TV special, "The Decision."

So I'm guessing Pavin's captain's picks aren't going to be turned into a one-hour special on Golf Channel.

Pavin and Gray argued for about ten minutes in the media center at Whistling Straits, and at one point, Pavin swatted Gray's hand away when he felt the broadcaster was raising it at Pavin's wife, Lisa.

It got ugly, which in the big picture is bizarre because, as I've said, it's really much ado about nothing. Even the European captain Colin Montgomerie was surprised at the hysteria over Woods.

When Monty was asked if, in Pavin's shoes, he'd choose Woods, he didn't feel any need to be diplomatic.

"That's a very difficult, dangerous and undiplomatic question," said Montgomerie with a mischievous smile. "But of course I'd pick him, yes."

Pavin, who was on the podium next to the Scot, shot him a sideways look.

"Let me make a note of that," he said wryly, "Thanks for the help. Appreciate it. He's very helpful in that way, Colin is."

But Montgomerie made perfect sense.

"He's the best player in the world," he said of Woods, "So therefore, he's the best player on the (U.S.) team."

"The Ryder Cup is a better, bigger event with Tiger Woods playing in it than without when he was injured last time (in 2008). So I hope that he is playing."

He said despite Woods' struggles this season, he still carried "a huge aura" around him.

"It's the one name that all our team will be looking for if they are going to play against him," he said. "It's the first name that would spring to mind for any of my team. It's a huge aura playing against ... the best player of our generation.

"How can any team possibly be weaker with the No. 1 player playing? He's a wonderful, wonderful player. No team would be weaker with him on it, believe me."

After a while, even Pavin seemed to tire of his own enforced neutrality.

"I think Tiger would be an exceptional addition to the team, and he's certainly under considerable consideration," he said. "He's definitely high on the list, (but) out of sheer respect and admiration for every player that's out here on the Tour and trying to make this team, I have to give everybody a fair shake."

It was interesting, too, that Pavin thought a point Monty had made a few months ago -- that the wives of the American players wouldn't warmly welcome Woods -- wasn't going to be a barrier to the American team bonding.

"I think it's a non-issue really," he said. "I think whoever is on the team is going to be welcomed and we are going to be a team unit when we are there, which includes players, wives, caddies, assistant captains."