- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NEWPORT, WALES (AP) - Talk of war filled the air Wednesday at the Ryder Cup.

For that, thank Corey Pavin and the British tabloids. The American captain served up a controversy ripe to be spun on a rainy day when controversy was needed the most.

The spat between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy? That was so yesterday’s fish wrap.

No need to go after just two players when the entire U.S. team can be trashed. And all because a motivational speaker had the title “Major” in front of his name.

Military madness quickly ensued.

Can you explain, Phil Mickelson was asked, “the Americans’ apparent fondness for associating sport with war?”

Well, no. But give Mickelson a few minutes and he might have mentioned a fondness for associating this Ryder Cup with a charity that provides scholarships to children and spouses of U.S. military members disabled or killed in action.

Not much fun in that, though. Not when there’s a chance to dredge up the “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup of 19 years ago and conjure up images of the U.S. team reporting to the first tee Friday in camouflage fatigues.

Pity poor Jeff Overton, a Ryder Cup rookie, who was set to talk about how much he liked the golf course when one of the first questions was about the speech Maj. Dan Rooney gave the night before. Rooney is a National Guard F-16 pilot who runs the Patriot Golf charity.

“Yeah, I just hate to hear of anybody who ever has to go to war,” Overton said. “It’s just an awful thing.”

Sorry, Jeff. Let’s try that one again.

“Going back to Major Rooney for a second, and I know everybody thinks war is bad,” a reporter opined to Overton. “But I’m not sure he was brought in to give you the message war is bad.”

And Overton thought the driveable 15th hole might be the trickiest part of his week. Winning a few points in the Ryder Cup might be easier than going 1-up on the British tabloids.

Pavin, of all captains, should have seen this coming. He spent the better part of the last two years preparing every detail just so to try to retain the cup. Yet somehow he thought the ever vigilant tabs wouldn’t link a military speaker to Pavin’s much-criticized decision as a player to wear a camouflage hat at Kiawah Island in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm.

Would it not, one reporter asked, have been wiser to avoid a military connection altogether so that no one would confuse golf with war?

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