SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and Golf Channel contributing reporter Jim Gray got into a heated, finger-wagging exchange for 10 minutes Wednesday in the PGA Championship media center at Whistling Straits. Gray confronted Pavin after the captain, in a mass news conference, rebutted Gray’s report quoting Pavin as saying on Tuesday that Tiger Woods would be picked for the team.
“He made it up,” Pavin said of Gray’s report. “I did not say that. I was trying to take the high road on the whole deal. He wasn’t, and isn’t.”
Said Golf Channel spokesman Dan Higgins, “We 100 percent stand behind the accuracy of Jim Gray’s story.” Gray was not immediately available for comment.
Gray confronted Pavin after a regularly scheduled Ryder Cup captains’ news conference. According to Lisa Pavin, Corey’s wife, who was there and taped the audio on her phone, Gray told Pavin, “You lied and you’re going down.”
A day earlier, Gray quoted Pavin as saying, “Of course I’m going to (pick him). He’s the best player in the world.”
Pavin said he first heard about the quote at Whistling Straits on Wednesday morning, and immediately Tweeted to his followers on Twitter: “Jim Gray has misquoted me re: picking Tiger. I never said such a thing and will not say a thing until 09/07.” Sept. 7 is Pavin’s deadline for his four wild-card selections to the Oct. 1-3 matches at Celtic Manor, Wales.
Pavin said he and Gray had a brief conversation as the captain was registering Tuesday for the 92nd PGA Championship. Earlier on Tuesday, Woods, who is outside the top eight point-earners who will earn automatic selection to the Ryder Cup team, was asked by Gray if he’d accept a wild-card pick.
“Yes,” Woods said.
Gray then found Pavin later in the day at Whistling Straits.
“He asked me who I’m picking. I said I’m not answering that; I don’t know,” Pavin said. “I don’t know how he got from Point A to Point B. . . . I looked at the quote and said, ‘Where did that come from?’ I didn’t say that.’ He can argue until he’s blue in the face, but I did not say that. He said I’m full of ‘something.’ I’m not going to let somebody call me a liar.”
Continued Pavin on Gray, “His eyes looked odd . . . he put his hand in front of Lisa, and I said, ‘That’s my wife; keep your hands away from her.’ ”
“When a man points a finger at me, I have a problem with that,” Lisa Pavin said. “That’s classless.”
At one point, Gray went to leave and Corey Pavin interjected, “You’re just going to walk away?” At that point Gray returned, and the two raised their voices.
The two briefly continued before Gray stormed away and exited the media center.
“He called me a liar,” Corey Pavin said. “One thing I don’t do is lie.”
Gray, a veteran reporter who has worked for CBS, NBC, ESPN and won numerous Emmy Awards, addressed the matter on a mid-day report on Golf Channel, saying, “There is absolutely not one part of what Corey Pavin said to me that has been misquoted. Quite frankly, I like Corey Pavin and I’ve known him for an awful long time, but in this instance, he’s being disingenuous and not telling the truth … there was no misquoting.”
Gray said the conversation between Pavin and him lasted 60-90 seconds and that Pavin “is backtracking.”
Pavin said he’s considering as many as 20 players for the four captain’s selections he will make early next month, and to hand away to Woods now would be unfair to all the others in the mix. Coming off Woods’ last performance – he was 18 over par at the WGC-Bridgestone – Pavin said the timing of selecting Woods now would be “counter-intuitive.”
“I know a lot of you guys for a long time,” Pavin told a small pack of reporters afterward, “and I wouldn’t tell any of you guys that. He asked me if I was going to pick him (Woods), and I said, ‘I’m not going to answer that question.’ Are you kidding? . . . He would not be my first choice (to tell); I’ll tell you that. He wouldn’t be my second, third or fourth, either.”
“He threw a quote out there as a quote of mine that is totally misrepresentative of anything that I said. He asked me if I was going to pick Tiger. All of you guys have asked me that. . . . Obviously he’s just trying to get a story out there. But if you start making stuff up, it makes me mad.”