Sore is rib is no worry for Verplank, but putting is
Scott Verplank missed the cut at the 84 Lumber Classic, but the good news is that a bothersome recently injured rib feels much better. The veteran is eager to tee it up at the K Club, and likes the U.S. blend of youth and experience.
September 17, 2006
FARMINGTON, Pa. (AP) -- Scott Verplank is certain he is ready for the Ryder Cup, even if his golf game didn't look like it at the 84 Lumber Classic.
Verplank, one of five U.S. Ryder Cup team members playing in the 84 Lumber Classic, missed the cut after a 6-over 78 Friday left him the bottom third of the field. He blamed his putter rather than a recent rib injury, saying, "I can't read the greens here.''
Verplank insisted an injury that occurred Aug. 22 while a chiropractor was working on his back was not a factor. However, U.S. Captain Tom Lehman was concerned enough that he has called Verplank repeatedly to make sure he was ready.
During a late August scouting trip to the K Club, Verplank was limited to a couple of holes because of the injury. That's one reason why Lehman wanted Verplank to play in at least one tournament before flying to Ireland.
"I wasn't looking forward coming to this tournament but, honestly, Tom wanted me to play since my back had been hurt there for a little bit,'' Verplank said. "So I did it. I hit it good. I just putted awful.''
When Verplank got hurt, Lehman urged Davis Love III and Corey Pavin to be ready in case they were needed in Ireland.
"I don't know what's going on, but I would think they [Love and Pavin] don't need to worry about it,'' Verplank said. "I'm glad to put this behind me and I'm ready to go.''
He is certain the rest of the Americans are, too, despite a 18 1/2-9 1/2 loss in 2004 at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit, their most one-sided defeat since the Ryder Cup began in 1927.
Despite that embarrassing loss, the United States will roll out a team next week that includes the world's top three: Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson.
"I think everybody will be more than ready,'' Verplank said. "I think it's got a great balance. It's got some youthful enthusiasm and the veteran guys on the team like myself. I want to be there and I want to play, and there's only one thing that's important to me next week. You can't predict anything, but I think we will do well.''
Verplank, a four-time tournament winner whose last victory came in 2001, acknowledged he spent much of 84 Lumber Classic this week thinking about the Ryder Cup instead of the 84 Lumber Classic.
"It's the best event I've ever played in,'' Verplank said of the Ryder Cup. "It's quite the opposite of playing [the 84 Lumber Classic]. I wasn't really ready to play here mentally. Everybody will be ready to play next week.''
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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