Corey Pavin: No automatic invites

Updated: August 12, 2010, 8:33 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Saying it would be disrespectful to other potential members of the team, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin on Wednesday denied that Tiger Woods will automatically get one of the squad's four at-large selections if he fails to make the team on points.

This week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits is the last qualifying event to determine eight team members. Pavin then will select four more players Sept. 7 to fill out the 12-man squad that will take on Europe, Oct. 1-3, at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Pavin I would not disrespect any of the players that are potential players on the team, and obviously there was misinterpretation of what I said.

-- U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin

"There's nobody that's promised any picks right now," said Pavin, who later got into a heated exchange with Golf Channel contributor Jim Gray. Gray had first reported that Pavin, while in the Whistling Straits clubhouse Tuesday, said he had assured Woods a spot. "It would be disrespectful to everybody that's trying to make the team. I've got quite a few people I'm looking at.

"I would not disrespect any of the players that are potential players on the team, and obviously there was misinterpretation of what I said."

Pavin described Wednesday's incident with Gray in detail. Gray approached Pavin after a news conference Wednesday, and they stood no more than a foot apart, facing off. Pavin's wife, Lisa, pulled out her mobile phone and recorded the conversation.

"He went nuts when he came in here," Pavin told reporters. "He said, 'You're going down,' then he turned around and walked away and I'm like, 'Down for what? You making stuff up?'"

Gray is a former ESPN employee who was involved in, but not hired by ESPN, for "The Decision," a program in which LeBron James announced he was joining the Miami Heat as a free agent.

Gray reported Tuesday evening that Pavin told him he would pick Woods for the Ryder Cup if he didn't make the team on his own at the PGA Championship. He quoted Pavin as saying -- it was not on camera -- "Of course I'm going to. He's the best player in the world."

Pavin was so angry when he heard about this Wednesday morning that he tweeted while on the golf course that "Jim Gray has misquoted me re: picking Tiger. I never said such a thing and will not say a thing until 09/07."

The Golf Channel said in a statement that it stands "100 percent behind the accuracy of Jim Gray's report. As far as any subsequent conversation between Jim and Corey Pavin, it was meant to be private and should remain as such."

Gray had said on air earlier Wednesday after Pavin's tweet that there was "not one part" of what Pavin said that had been misquoted.

"And quite frankly, I happen to like Corey Pavin," Gray said. "I've known him an awfully long time, and in this instance, he is being disingenuous and is not telling the truth."

Woods, who missed the U.S. victory in 2008 due to injury, has played on five U.S. Ryder Cup teams, with his only victory as a team member coming in 1999.

Although he has played in just eight PGA Tour events this year, Woods is 10th in the standings and could still make the team on his own, depending on how he fares at Whistling Straits, where he tied for 24th in 2004. Woods, however, is coming off the worst 72-hole tournament of his professional career.

Pavin said he spoke with Woods on Wednesday, although he did not disclose the content of the conversation. Several weeks ago, Pavin said he hoped to talk to Woods to gauge his interest and made clear that he wanted Woods on the team.

When asked if he would accept a captain's pick, Woods on Tuesday said he would, but added: "Hopefully I won't be a pick. I would like to be able to play myself onto that team."

Players are awarded one point for every $1,000 in earnings, but earn double points at major championships. All of those in contention for the final spots are in the field, so there is the chance for plenty of movement.

"It would be great to see Tiger coming back into some form this week and actually making the top eight for the U.S. team," said Colin Montgomerie, the captain of the European squad. "As I've said many times before, the Ryder Cup is a better, bigger event with Tiger Woods playing in it than without when he was injured last time.

"So I hope that he is playing ... Of course it's a huge aura playing against him, and something that my team will relish the opportunity of playing against what we will all believe is the best player of our generation."

Bob Harig is a golf writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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