Pavin made mistake by passing on Kim

Anthony Kim celebrates after Team USA's victory at the 2008 Ryder Cup.

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Podcast episode

PGA Tour

Miceli: Pavin avoids controversy with picks

Alex Miceli explains why Corey Pavin went with safe picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

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Final Ryder Cup points

1.) Phil Mickelson (6,095.06)

2.) Hunter Mahan (4,095.62)

3.) Bubba Watson (3,894.32)

4.) Jim Furyk (3,763.64)

5.) Steve Stricker (3,697.98)

6.) Dustin Johnson (3,573.80)

7.) Jeff Overton (3,533.15)

8.) Matt Kuchar (3,415.85)

DID NOT QUALIFY

9.) Anthony Kim (3,274.68)

10.) Lucas Glover (3,052.87)

11.) x-Zach Johnson (3,051.90)

12.) x-Tiger Woods (2,902.58)

13.) Bo Van Pelt (2,662.23)

14.) x-Stewart Cink (2,644.83)

15.) Ben Crane (2,629.80)

16.) Ricky Barnes (2,610.17)

17.) Nick Watney (2,557.44)

18.) Sean O'Hair (2,417.57)

19.) J.B. Holmes (2,390.71)

20.) x-Rickie Fowler (2,353.32)

21.) Ryan Palmer (2,276.38)

22.) Ryan Moore (2,136.10)

23.) Jason Bohn (1,817.24)

24.) Kenny Perry (1,790.83)

25.) Scott Verplank (1,756.60)

Note: x-captain’s pick

To borrow a phrase from Jack Nicklaus, I think U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin needs a brain scan.

That was Nicklaus’ comment in May in reference to whether captain Corey would skip picking Tiger Woods. Pavin wasn’t that stupid. But I think it was as much an oversight not to take Anthony Kim with one of four captain’s picks.

Sure, Kim did himself no favors by missing his last four cuts, and for all intent five (he finished T-76 in the no-cut WGC Bridgestone Invitational). He never proved that his game is in form after a three-month layoff for surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Since Pavin gave an inscrutable non-answer when questioned about Kim’s absence on the team during a news conference, one can only guess that Pavin wasn’t convinced that Kim is fully healthy.

But Kim brings an unmatched enthusiasm to the Ryder Cup. With a winner’s swagger, he was the heart and soul of the 2008 team, bringing a youthful enthusiasm. He was more than a cheerleader. He won. He set the tone on the final day, steamrolling Sergio Garcia in singles to win the first match out of the gate and went 2-1-1 overall. He went 3-1 on last year’s victorious Presidents Cup team, too.

I watched him win the Shell Houston Open in April without his “A’’ game, something which only the great players tend to do. The next week, he shot a final-round 65 at The Masters and finished third. He’s a big-game player, the type of guy you’d want on the mound in Game 7.

“I know a lot of people are excited (about the Ryder Cup),” Kim told Golfweek at The Barclays. “But I don’t think people care more than I do.”

How much did he want to make the U.S. team? He played through the pain until getting surgery May 5, when he thought he had sewn up enough Ryder Cup points to make the squad. He skipped The Players Championship, U.S. Open and British Open so he could be back in time for Wales. In contrast, did Tiger Woods factor in the Ryder Cup in scheduling his ACL surgery heading into the 2008 matches? I don’t think so. Woods refused to miss the Masters and U.S. Open and shut it down knowing full well he would be sidelined.

It also should be noted that Kim finished ninth in the standings, and didn’t get bounced from the top-8 automatic qualifiers until the PGA Championship, the final point-counting event. Pavin chose Zach Johnson (No. 11), Tiger Woods (No. 12), Stewart Cink (No. 14), and Rickie Fowler (No. 20).

Kim still would’ve had 24 days to heal his thumb and find his game. I consider him the type of player who rises to the occasion, the way Garcia suddenly starts holing putts in the heat of the Ryder Cup battle. Make no mistake: It would’ve been a riskier pick than Stewart Cink (who is suffering a classic post-first-major slump), but isn’t that why they call them wild-card picks? He may not be as sexy of a pick as Rickie Fowler (Remind me, what tournament has No. 20 in the Ryder Cup point standings won?), but Kim’s the guy I’d want in my corner.

At last year’s Presidents Cup, International captain Greg Norman rolled the dice with Adam Scott. Pavin should’ve gambled on Kim. He’s a winner.

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