Will Pavin be named to Ryder Cup roster?

Updated: August 20, 2006, 2:42 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Throughout the season, much of the golf world was under the impression that if Tom Lehman made his own Ryder Cup roster he would compete on the team. This assumption wasn't based on nothing; Lehman said as much while reaching the semifinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship back in February.

Being Tom Lehman
Tom Lehman
Lehman
Let me play the role of Tom Lehman. For the past year, ever since the United States' thrilling Presidents Cup victory, I've looked at my team and found one underlying trend: teams within the team. That's why Scott Verplank and Justin Leonard are my captain's selections for this year's roster.

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As the year progressed, Lehman's putter starting failing him and after losing in a playoff at last week's International, he announced that he would not play at The K Club, whether he made it on points or not.

That's old news now, as Lehman missed the cut at the PGA Championship and will not qualify for the team, but it remains relevant just hours before he announces his two wild card selections for the team. After all, Lehman said the captain wouldn't compete in the Cup, but he never said a captain wouldn't play.

Enter Corey Pavin, a three-time Ryder Cup participant (1991-'93-'95), who along with Loren Roberts is one of Lehman's assistant captains on this year's team. When asked earlier this week whether Pavin was on his short list of candidates -- and Lehman has repeatedly stated that there is indeed a short list from which his selections will be found -- the captain responded with a resounding, "Yes," even adding that if it were to happen, Pavin would be relinquished of his assistant's duties and another name is already in place to step in.

Sounds like a lot of advanced planning for something that may not happen, which means don't be surprised if Lehman names Pavin to the roster on Monday morning. It wouldn't be a terrible selection. Though it's been 11 years since Pavin last played in the Cup, he does have an 8-5 career record in the event. And he's coming in on a hot streak, having recently won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.

Lehman has repeatedly told anyone who will listen that despite the likelihood of four rookies on the roster, finding two experienced captain's selections isn't a priority. Instead, he is seeking players who can keep it in the short grass and roll some putts. Pavin certainly fits the bill -- in theory. He ranks 24th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour, but the man known as one of the better rock-rollers around is only 151st in putting average this season, giving cynics even more fodder for criticism should Lehman name his buddy to the team.

Though Fred Couples, Jerry Kelly, Lucas Glover and Arron Oberholser are all potential selections, each is probably on the outside looking in. Others on the captain's short list likely include Stewart Cink, Scott Verplank and Davis Love III. However, with Love's struggles this week after climbing atop the leaderboard early, just another in a long line of inconsistencies he has displayed this season, the six-time Ryder Cup player would be a dubious selection.

That leaves Cink and Verplank, both of whom, their peers acknowledge, would be worthy choices for the team. Each is a solid putter, gritty competitor and owns Ryder Cup experience -- nothing not to like about either one.

Will those attributes be enough to garner a spot on the roster? Or will Pavin -- or another dark horse candidate -- block the way to Ireland for one or both of these guys?

For now, only Tom Lehman knows for sure. On Monday morning, he'll tell the rest of us.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.