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With all this commotion going on, clouds gathered over the PGA Championship on Wednesday, the final day of practice, and pounded Whistling Straits with rain so hard that Anthony Kim went barefoot on some holes.

And then another black cloud arrived _ or maybe it was Gray.

The Golf Channel’s Gray reported Tuesday evening that Pavin told him he was picking Woods for the Ryder Cup if he didn’t make the team on his own. Pavin saw this Wednesday morning while playing a practice round before the rain arrived, and he put on Twitter that he never said that.

Minutes after Pavin’s news conference, Gray walked into the interview room for a heated exchange with Pavin, and pointed a finger at his chest. According to Pavin _ his wife taped the argument on her cell phone _ Gray called him a liar and said, “You’re going down.”

In the entry way to the media center, reporters were buzzing over the spat. Pavin was in the back of the room with Colin Montgomerie to sign the Ryder Cup captain’s agreement.

In walked Woods‘ chief spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, and hardly anyone noticed.

And it was Woods himself who had sparked the Ryder Cup debate.

Even in such strange times, Woods drives just about every topic of discussion. And to think that just one year ago, at the PGA Championship in Hazeltine, the biggest shock was that Woods finished in second place.

The focus should shift to golf when the tournament gets under way Thursday. What’s missing is a clear favorite, and that can be attributed to Woods, too.

Graeme McDowell won his first major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, even though the Sunday contenders included Woods, Mickelson and Ernie Els. Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open at St. Andrews with a performance reminiscent of Woods, even though not many knew the 27-year-old South African, and even fewer could pronounce his name.

In some respects, Mickelson was a surprise at the Masters. He had not won a tournament all year, and has not won since. But his wife, Amy, made her first trip to a tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year earlier, and their embrace behind the 18th green at Augusta National remains among the most poignant moments of the year.

What will Whistling Straits deliver? Just about anything.

“The major championship have got a lot more wide open, it seems, in the past couple of years,” said 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who has as good of a chance as anyone this week.

He mentioned the problems Woods is having on the golf course _ Woods has broken par in only four of his last 20 rounds _ along with the 78 that Mickelson shot on Sunday when he had a chance to go to No. 1 in the world. The No. 3 player is Lee Westwood, who pulled out of the PGA with a calf injury.

“So there’s going to be a lot of guys here thinking that it’s the right time for them to break though,” McIlroy said. “And I’m definitely one of those guys. You can never write off the likes of Tiger and Phil.”

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