The Ryder Cup was never far from the Pavin's minds during the holiday season. (The Pavin Family)
Captain's Blog: Piling up the frequent flyer miles
It was a busy holiday season for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and his family. After returning from a goodwill trip to Iraq, Pavin packed for trips to New York, London, Vail, Colo., and Hawaii. In between, he and wife Lisa completed one important part of their pre-event responsibilities.
Is it really February 2010, already? That means I have eight short months until the 38th Ryder Cup! You might think that I have a calendar to scratch off each day, as golf's grand stage gets nearer, and you would be right -- I do! However, my wife does a better job of keeping her calendar up to date than I do. No big surprise there.
The last time I wrote, I spoke of my memorable trip to Iraq to visit our troops. So much has happened since then. In fact, I'm not sure if I've sat still since my return trip.
A day after returning home from Iraq, my wife, Lisa, had me on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, where we planned to surprise Joe Steranka, the CEO of The PGA of America who was being honored by the March of Dimes with its annual Sports Leadership Award on Dec. 2. The surprise suffered a little hiccup when, the night before the ceremony, the Steranka's accidentally ran into Lisa in the hotel lobby while on their way to dinner! From my understanding, Lisa deserved a nomination for "Actress of the Year" as she quickly recovered and said that she was in town for some Christmas shopping. Of course, they believed her because if any of you know my wife, when she says "shopping," we all know she is NOT joking!
A special father-daughter trip to Vail, Colorado, for New Year's gave Alexis her first taste of sledding.
We returned back to New York one week later to interview several clothing vendors for the players' Ryder Cup team uniforms. Since it has been publicly released, I can finally say that we are thrilled to be working with Hickey Freeman and Peter Millar. But don't be fooled, these "uniforms" aren't going to be your normal golf look. Lisa is working full-time and creating a "special" look for this year's 2010 team. Of course, ahem, I will have final approval on the designs and colors before they are released. I am the captain, after all. LOL.
We hadn't been home from our New York trip but a week when found ourselves on another plane headed to London. This trip was a very special one as I am sincerely touched that the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland has bestowed upon me their 2009 PGA Recognition Award. (The first American to accept the award, too!) The awards luncheon was held on Friday, Dec. 18, in collaboration with their charity, The PGA Benevolent Fund. It was an extraordinary several days for Lisa and me. We could not have asked for a warmer reception from the people of London. And of course, I have to add that the PGA of GB&I took such wonderful care of Lisa that they treated her to a private Harrods experience for a day. I'm still not sure whether to thank the PGA or not for that act of kindness!
So, after three weeks of various traveling, we finally found ourselves in Los Angeles for two weeks to celebrate Christmas, our daughter Alexis' second birthday and New Year's Eve. Christmas was great this year! Lisa and I decided that with all of our December traveling, we were going to spend a very quiet family Christmas Day together, just the three of us. Well, make that the four of us, including our older four-legged daughter, Juicy.
Alexis turning 2 was another magnificent milestone in our lives. I cannot believe it's been two years since she entered our world. I still vividly remember the phone call Lisa made to me telling me she was pregnant! My, how time flies.
Over New Year's, Alexis and I took a father-daughter trip to Vail, Colorado, where she got her first taste of sledding while I skied every day. It was so refreshing to get away for a while and mentally recharge for the year ahead.
Then we left for Maui on Jan. 6. Lisa and I always go to Maui before the Hawaii tournaments because the island holds a very special place for us as we were married on Jan. 8, 2003, in Makena, Maui, just south of Wailea. Seven years later and here we are -- and to think they said it wouldn't last!
On Jan. 11, I officially started my 27th year on the PGA Tour. WOW!! I am so thankful for the longevity of my career. I love playing competitive golf and I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Of course, there have been so many ups and downs in my career, but that's what certainly keeps me motivated. My first tournament of 2010 was the Sony Open on the island of Oahu at Wailea Country Club. I have a special history, a special bond with this tournament. I won it twice, back to back, early in my career and have always felt a special closeness to people of Hawaii. In 27 years, I have only missed two tournaments at Wailea. The beauty of this tournament is not just the golf course but also because it has always been so family oriented. I remember taking my two sons, who are now 23 and 16, when they were little babies and now I am able to experience it again with Alexis. I'm not sure when I'll stop playing this tournament. I love the tournament staff, the Sony sponsors, the fans, the golf course, the hotel -- everything that is related to this tournament.
While in Hawaii for the Sony Open, Corey Pavin and Alexis shared a special moment on the beach.
Following the week of Sony, I thankfully received an exemption into the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, where I made my Champions Tour debut. It was so cool to see my fellow pros and their wives and families for the first time in many years. Of course, some of them had their grandchildren with them who were the same age as my daughter ... but, oh well, I guess we could be the new face of the Champions Tour! All the players were so gracious and made me feel very welcome and I look forward to calling the Champions Tour my new home. My play wasn't quite as sharp as I would have liked -- I finished tied for the 13th -- but we had a great time and I am looking forward to spending a lot of time on the Champions Tour this year. And as Lisa said, "we will be going back to Hualalai, right?" Now, that's some pressure-packed inspiration!
On Feb. 3, at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, I announced my four assistant captains: Paul Goydos, Tom Lehman, David Love III, and Jeff Sluman. I have known these four men for most of my career. I have great respect for each of them, on and off the golf course. Their experience and longevity of their career speak for itself. None of us is afraid to express our opinions to each other and if there is a difference of opinion, I'm confident we will work it out without holding anyone in judgment. There will be many roundtable discussions in the upcoming months and especially the week of the Ryder Cup. These are the kind of men I want on Team USA. I also chose my assistants based on an environment that Lisa and I want to create for the 2010 team. We want a fun, friendly, relaxing, team-bonding atmosphere while also creating a cohesive competitiveness for the week. I needed assistants who would be present on the PGA tour. And most importantly, as I chose my assistants, I wanted four individuals who respect the history and game of golf, understand the tradition of the Ryder Cup, share my passion for this great event, and be able to pass it onto prospective players. If there is a team member who doesn't understand the rich tradition of the Ryder Cup and the importance it should mean to them, then they will be very well versed by the time we get to Wales.
As we have seen so far, there has been so much variation on the Ryder Cup point list during just the first four weeks of the season. Playing on both Tours and fulfilling my roles as a Captain can, at times, make it difficult for me to gauge potential players. However, I have great help from the PGA. They sending me weekly notices and I often receive emails from the support team down in Florida. I've become much more proactive with watching golf tournaments, too. Thank goodness for DVR!
My wife is helping me keep up with the players and their thoughts on an an array of subjects by using social media such as FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube. She has found that many of the potential players' wife also use these sites, so, consequently, their husbands do, too. But if the husbands aren't, my wife is still able to use these social media resources to keep up with the "new," the "old," and the "can't mentions." LOL! Since Lisa is a little more proactive in her timing and, honestly, has a much better sense of the technical world, I have enlisted her to help me decipher online articles, blogs, or just even getting daily feeds with certain key subjects, names, topics, etc.
I'm also keeping a "discrete" eye on watching these potential players practice and interact with their peers, whether it be on the golf course, in the locker room, or simply having breakfast and/or lunch in the player dining room. I'm trying to get an overall sense of who they are because all of these factors -- along with the style of their game, of course -- will play a big part in how we put together our lineup. I am finding myself on the phone a lot more, making calls and texting players each week, and I anticipate this will become more frequent over the next seven months.