Pavin was born in Oxnard, California, and attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He won two gold medals at the 1981 Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics in Israel and turned professional the following year. He quickly established himself in the sport, with three international victories in 1983, and his first PGA Tour victory at the 1984 Houston Coca-Cola Open.
1984 New Zealand Open: Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club after a twelve-year wait held the championship on December 6 to 9 and provided an immaculately prepared course.
In excellent weather conditions, the New Zealand Open again provided a springboard for a player who would become a top name in world golf. Corey Pavin was able to show that a player with fine putting skills on top-quality greens will provide excellent scoring.
His 269 was 19 under par and included only five bogeys and one double-bogey at the difficult par 4 seventeenth hole. Riley on the first day, and Gale, Davis and Stanley all showed signs of making a challenge at various stages, with Gale more prominent finally for second place.
The young Canadian Kelly Murray provided the Wellington galleries with spectacular inconsistency. In his first-round he scored eight birdies in nine holes and only finished one under, and in his final round managed to drive pin high on the par 4 fifteenth, only to three-putt!
1985 New Zealand Open: Played at Russley Golf Club on 5 to 8 December, the titleholder Corey Pavin scored 67 in each of the first two rounds and with 70 on the third day had taken a seemingly unassailable lead.
On the final day, torrential rain caused delays and disruption. It was only the determination of the officials who with the assistance of many saw play continue. Pavin’s lead was reduced to one stroke at the fourteenth which he birdied and regained the composure necessary to successfully defend his title.
He did, however, miss his return flight home. The final round 65 by Roger Davis, which won for him the Jellicoe Cup, contrasted with the scoring achieved on the par 73 course on the final day.
He won at least one event on either the PGA Tour or the international tour nearly every year for the next decade, and topped the PGA Tour’s money list in 1991 when he was the last man to achieve this without winning at least one million dollars in prize money. Pavin’s success culminated in his only major victory, the 1995 U.S. Open.
After Pavin won the Bank of America Colonial in 1996, he did not win another PGA Tour tournament for ten years. His 89th-place finish on the 2004 money list was the first time he had made the top one hundred since 1998. Pavin finally won his 15th career title in 2006 at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, ending a streak of 242 consecutive tournaments without a win.
Pavin played on three Ryder Cup teams: 1991, 1993, and 1995. The 1993 edition was the source of some controversy: the majority of the squad was unwilling to meet with President Bill Clinton before the cup owing to their differing political views. Pavin stated that he had voted for Bush, and so was not particularly excited at the prospect of meeting Clinton.
In 2002 he was named to the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame.
On July 27, 2006, during the first round of what would become his 15th tour title, Pavin broke the record for the fewest strokes needed to complete nine holes at a PGA Tour event, with an 8-under par score of 26. The previous record of 27 strokes was held by Mike Souchak, Andy North, Billy Mayfair and Robert Gamez, with Mayfair and Gamez’ scores being 9-under par. His 36-hole total of 125 also tied the record for fewest shots taken in the first 36 holes of a PGA Tour event held by Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia, and Tiger Woods.
In December 2008, Pavin was named captain for the 2010 Ryder Cup U.S. team by the PGA of America. In October 2010, the U.S. Ryder Cup team lost 13½ to 14½, against the European side.
Pavin made a cameo appearance playing himself in the 1996 movie Tin Cup starring Kevin Costner. In the movie, Pavin tells Fred Couples, “It’s hard to believe that a guy named ‘Tin Cup’ might have his name beneath mine on the trophy.”