Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Ian Woosnam of Wales (right) and Vice-captain Peter Baker (left) pose with the Ryder Cup trophy at The Smurfit European Open on June 29, 2005 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo: Getty Images)

Baker relishing renewal of rivalry with Pavin

Ryder Cup Vice Captains Peter Baker and Corey Pavin are set to renew their rivalry at The K Club 13 years after their singles match at The De Vere Belfry, when the Englishman defeated the American 2-up in the final-day singles competition.

04 August 2006

While the technical and strategic battle between Captains Ian Woosnam and Tom Lehman will be one of the main focuses of the forthcoming Ryder Cup, Vice Captains Peter Baker and Corey Pavin will resume their own personal tussle at The K Club.

Baker and Pavin's Ryder Cup rivalry began 13 years ago at The De Vere Belfry when the Englishman took on and defeated the American two up in the final day singles.

Baker made a big impact on his Ryder Cup debut, pairing up with Woosnam in the fourballs to beat Jim Gallagher Jnr and Lee Janzen on the final green on the first day and then combining again with devastating effect to beat Fred Couples and Paul Azinger 6 and 5 the following afternoon. While Baker then defeated Pavin by two holes in the singles, Europe still walked away empty handed as the United States won The 1993 Ryder Cup 15-13.

The pair are set go head to head once more in their roles of supporting the respective Team Captains, with Baker hoping to once again get the better of Pavin as Europe look to secure a third successive Ryder Cup win for the first time in the history of the event.

Pavin, of course, proved he is still a force to reckoned with on the playing front with his victory in the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee on the US PGA Tour last week, ending a ten year title drought.

That followed Loren Roberts's play-off win in the Senior British Open, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management, at the Westin Turnberry Resort earlier in what turned out to be a very successful day for Lehman's two Vice Captains.

"I know Corey Pavin really well because I beat him in the singles in 1993," said Baker. "He is a really nice guy and I'm looking forward to seeing him again.

"Corey's a good guy and we had a great match. Of course that's easy for me to say because I beat him, but we both played very well and I just managed to sneak it two up. That day, in fact, that whole season was the highlight of my career. I managed to win a couple of times that year to get into the Team, and then to go on and win my Ryder Cup singles match against a fierce competitor like Corey was very special."

Baker has been a regular visitor to The K Club in recent weeks, helping Woosnam devise every aspect of his match strategy, from the quickest buggy routes around the course to discussing potential partnerships and the order in which to send out his Team.

The 39-year-old has also been keeping a watchful eye on the players most likely to feature in Lehman's American Team, but warns that, even though Europe will be favourites to retain Sam Ryder's trophy when the competition starts on September 22, that there will be no repeat of their record breaking 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 victory of 2004.

"There is expectation on the Team after Detriot but I think they can handle the fact that we will be favourites. Everyone knows that once the competition gets started it doesn't matter who the favourites are. Who plays the best over the three days will win. It's going to be tough. It was tough for them the last time as well. Okay, they won by a huge margin but I know that the guys who played in Detroit will tell anyone that is was very difficult and it will be again.

"It's always going to be tough to beat the Americans. If you look back in history, certainly since we made the switch to a European Team, the matches have always been close and I don't think that will change this year. It'll be hard work, but I think we have the players and the strength in depth to do it. They have to perform over the three days, and I think they will do that."

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