DALLAS (BP)–As Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin leads the American team in 2010’s matches at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, he acknowledges it: “My faith as a Christian is who I am, that’s what I do with my life, it’s private and personal.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be a better captain,” Pavin noted. “It doesn’t mean you’re a better golfer.”
Pavin joins a line of former U.S. Ryder Cup captains who are active Christians — Tom Lehman in 2006 and Paul Azinger, who helped engineer the dramatic U.S. upset at Valhalla Golf Club in 2008. Azinger declined a request prior to the competition to talk about his faith with Baptist Press.
In similar fashion, Pavin said, “If somebody asks about it, then I’ll talk about it, but this is the first time you’ve asked me about my faith. I didn’t bring it up.”
In the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club course in Ireland, the U.S. team was led by Lehman, an outspoken Christian, with several other Christians on the team. The Americans were routed by the largest margin ever on European soil.
In 2008, Azinger, a somewhat quieter Christian, guided his team to a historic upset at Valhalla in Kentucky.
The message is clear: Having God in your life does not automatically translate to international golfing success.
“I don’t want people to think that because I’m a Christian I will be better captain or more successful,” Pavin said, explaining that he simply wants to quietly live his life of faith in the international spotlight.
Regardless of the outcome of the Oct. 1-3 matches in Wales, Pavin will have plenty of Christian support.
PGA Tour chaplain Larry Moody from Search Ministries, who is close with Pavin and many of the players, is making the trip. Lehman returns as an assistant captain while fellow Christians Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink are part of this year’s team.
The world’s No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods claims Buddhism as his faith; others like Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan have made no outward expression of a personal faith.
Pavin said he will work with everyone the same — with their golfing abilities.
A recent Wall Street Journal article spotlighted the fact that the last few American Ryder Cup captains were Christians and noted the number of Christians on this year’s team, speculating whether they were picked for their personal faith, not their golfing skills.
“That has nothing to do with it,” Pavin said. “It mentioned one guy on the team [Rickie Fower] was a Christian and a regular at Bible study and that was news to me.
“It’s a personal faith and a regular walk,” Pavin said. “That’s who I am all the time.”
Art Stricklin is a Baptist Press sports correspondent based in Dallas.