For Corey Pavin, the Right Club for the Win

The United States Open, which begins Thursday at the Los Angeles Country Club, has featured plenty of memorable shots over the years. One was the 4-wood struck by Corey Pavin on the final hole of the 1995 Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southhampton, N.Y.

Pavin, clinging to a one-stroke lead, knocked his approach from about 2225 yards away to within five feet of the pin. He missed the birdie putt but prevailed by two.

“The shot of his life,” Johnny Miller of NBC called it at the time.

Pavin, 63, who played on the golf team at U.C.L.A., recently reflected on what happened in 1995 and on the course that players will encounter this week.

The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Where’s the 4-wood these days?

The 4-wood is in a nice case in storage at the moment. I had it in a house on display. When we moved, we didn’t have enough room for it.

Did you use it after the Open?

I used it for a couple more years and then switched to a different club.

What options did you consider for the shot?

I was carrying a 2-iron in my bag, as well. I said, [to his caddie] “Do you think I can get a 2-iron there?” He said, “No, I don’t. I think it’s a 4-wood.” I said, “I agree.” That was our conversation. It was very short, to the point, with no doubt on what club I should hit.

Did you know right away that you were on target?

When I made contact with the ball, I knew it was really good. I hit it just the way I wanted to. I had the exact same shot on Friday and hit a 4-wood onto the green, as well. So I had a good picture in my head because I did it on Friday.

Did the shot receive so much attention because it was hit with a 4-wood?

A fairway wood is somewhat unique to hit a second shot on a par-4 on the 72nd hole. I was 35, had won 12 tournaments at that time and hadn’t won a major, that was a factor as well.

“If I had gone my whole career and hadn’t won a major, I would have been bothered by it,” Pavin said.Credit…Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto, via Getty Images

Was it eating away at you that you hadn’t won a major?

It was one of my goals, certainly, at that point in my career. I don’t know if eating away is the right way to say it, but I wanted to win a major very badly. If I had gone my whole career and hadn’t won a major, I would have been bothered by it.

How do you assess your career?

When I started on tour, if somebody had told me, “You’re going to win 15 tournaments with one of them being a major,” I would have told them they were probably crazy. I never had a long-term goal like that. My goal every year was to win at least one tournament, play consistent golf at the highest level I could.

Did you play the Los Angeles Country Club when you were in college?

We played just a couple of times. It’s a beautiful golf course. I think it’s going to hold its own pretty well.

Is there a unique challenge for the guys or is it a typical Open layout?

One challenge is that nobody has ever really seen it in tournament conditions. I’m not sure how it’s going to be set up. Chipping out of [the Bermuda rough] is very difficult. And hitting full shots out of it is very hard.

Why did the Ryder Cup bring out the best in you?

I love the Ryder Cup. The pressure there is 100 times stronger than anything I’ve ever felt. When I feel that pressure it makes me concentrate and focus even better. You don’t get a chance to represent your country very often.

Any regrets about your time as captain in 2010?

It was a fantastic experience. Of course, I wish we would have won, but I have no regrets on how I went about it. I was as thorough as I could be, gathered as much information as I could and made decisions based on that information.

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