Pavin says he welcomes Tiger taunts

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Pavin says he welcomes Tiger taunts

NEWPORT, Wales - U.S. captain Corey Pavin said he welcomed remarks by European tyro Rory McIlroy about Tiger Woods’ woes - and warned they may have stirred the wounded world No. 1.

McIlroy, playing in his first Ryder Cup, raised eyebrows last month when he said he was keen to face Woods, who has struggled to rediscover his best form since returning from a self-imposed exile.

“I would love to face him,” McIlroy said. “Unless his game rapidly improves, I think anybody in the European team would fancy their chances against him.”

Pavin said he was happy for any remark that provides extra motivation for Woods and the rest of the American team as they attempt to win the Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 17 years.

“Anything that motivates players is great,” Pavin said. “You don’t need a lot of motivation on the Ryder Cup. If the players take it as motivation, it’s great.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, downplayed his comments here yesterday, emphasizing his comments on Woods had come after he had endured the worst 72 holes of his career at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in August. Woods has a history of making rivals pay for daring to suggest vulnerability in his game and he sounded an ominous note Wednesday when asked for a response to McIlroy wanting to play him.

“Me too,” Woods said.

Asked if he’d like to elaborate, Woods replied: “No.”

At the 2006 World Match Play Championship, Stephen Ames famously took aim at Woods’ erratic driving. The following day Ames suffered the heaviest defeat in the history of the championship, losing nine and eight to Woods in the first round.

In 2007, Rory Sabbatini paid the price for saying Woods was “more beatable than ever.” When the two faced each other a few months later, Woods turned a one-shot final round deficit against Sabbatini into a crushing eight-shot victory.

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