— Believe it or not, the European press is preparing to pounce when the U.S. team travels to Celtic Manor in Wales for the Ryder Cup Oct. 1-3, and the main course is not going to be Tiger Woods. OK, it probably is; but another big target for them will be the religious makeup of the American squad. And in that regard, Tiger is kind of a fifth wheel. The majority of the U.S. squad, you see, -- as well as three of Corey Pavin's four captain's picks -- are all born-again Christians. And that's not surprisng to some, being that Pavin is as well.
From the Wall Street Journal:
European attitudes toward America have improved slightly since 2006, but this year's Ryder Cup team, which travels to Celtic Manor in Wales for the Oct. 1-3 event, is no less religious than its predecessor. The captain, Corey Pavin, and several of the players (not to mention Mr. Lehman, who returns as an assistant captain) are born-again Christians. Three of Mr. Pavin's four discretionary "captain's picks"--Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler--are regulars at the PGA Tour's weekly Bible-study sessions. Messrs. Pavin and Lehman are also frequent attendees, along with team members Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. (The fourth pick, Tiger Woods, claims Buddhism as his religion.)
No one but stray bloggers has alleged that Mr. Pavin made his decisions based on religion--as golf picks they're fairly unassailable. But the subject is close to the surface.
"It's going to be an issue, for sure. The British tabloids will hop on it and hit it hard," predicted Paul Azinger, the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup captain and himself a born-again Christian.
Mr. Pavin declined to comment about how or whether his religious beliefs will be a factor in how he captains the team. Through a spokesman, he said it was a private matter.
A private latter? Where have we heard that before? Anyway, I guess you can count me a s one of the stray bloggers who at least is bringing up the question. Isn't it a coincidence that all the captain's picks, save Woods, are born-agains who attend the PGA bible study group?
Pavin himself was raised Jewish, and didn't convert to Christianity until 1991, after he was already on the PGA Tour. He\said he did it because there had been "a void in his life." The press here may let him skate without discussing his religion, but the European press is not that delicate.