An Interview With: SCOTT VERPLANK
September 19, 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: Scott, welcome back to the Ryder Cup Team for the second time, and a pick, as well, the second time. Does that just add on to the intensity and the pressure to your role?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Yeah, I guess it could. I don't really think so. I think it's such an honour to me, for a guy or a group of guys to think that I'm worthy to be on their team. When you get a call that a captain says, "Well, I need you on the team," he's trying to shore up where he thinks he might have a weakness. You know, that's a nice pat on the back. It gives you a little it gives you a real good feeling that you're doing things okay.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you have a good feeling about this week, because the team seems really up for it this week.
SCOTT VERPLANK: I do. This is different than I've experienced in the past because Captain Lehman is really big on making sure we have a lot of fun together and do a lot of stupid things, just stupid, funny things. We're having to sing; I can't sing. It's sad, really. That little trip we made a few weeks back was one of the greatest little adventures and it was one of the greatest ideas that I've been a part of.
You know, it kind of gave us a couple extra days to get rid of all the, you know, to get through saying, well, you know, how are you guys getting along and get together. So we already did all that.
We're like 12 little kids just playing around, which I think it's made a nice atmosphere for everybody.
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay. We'll take some questions, please.
Q. So Tom talked a lot about bonding and all that and having fun out here and trying to sort of win over the crowd. What did you guys do; did you sign a lot of autographs today? Or Thomas Levet did some jumping jacks at Oakland Hills to help the Europeans.
SCOTT VERPLANK: We did, we signed autographs between every hole. If we stopped and signed autographs at every hole, we would still be out there. I was lucky, I was playing with Tiger and I just slid in behind him and nobody really wanted my autograph (laughing).
We all signed some, but when you play with Tiger, you definitely are a little bit of the background music. So that was fine. Brett and Jim and I weren't all that disappointed.
We signed autographs; the crowd's great. We had quite a few people at 7:30 and a lot of people when we made the turn. So it's a great crowd here. I think that the Irish people are awesome.
Q. A lot has been said by the previous guys up here about the strength of your captain already this week, and it's Tuesday. How important do you think the role of captain is, and do you have any feel of how Woosnam and Lehman's styles differ?
SCOTT VERPLANK: I don't know about all the behind the scenes stuff that Ian has done, but I've known him a long time, always got along well with him and enjoy being in his company, so I'm sure he's doing fine. He's been fairly successful in this event and he's been on the winning team several times, so I think he's got a good formula for them.
Tom has been amazing, really. He has bent over backwards, he has gone out of his way, and he's gone above and beyond what he really needed to do, I think, to get us all together. Like I said, coming over early, some of the stuff we've done together, and the time we've spent together, I think it's been very worthwhile. You know, we've had a great time together and we're all getting to know each other better.
I guess I'm the oldest guy on the team, so I know most of the guys and have been around them, but some of the younger guys, I wouldn't have a chance to get to know them as well. The things that Tom has done to bring us together have been a lot of fun, and it's been very helpful.
Q. Having said all of that and describing all of the bonding, all that, what does that mean? How can that possibly make a difference, do you think, once the competition comes along?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, I think it's a matter of kind of relaxation and less stressful. I think when everybody thinks, well, you know, I guess in the past we've always been, you know, "favoured" to win, whatever that means. But all I know is it doesn't matter whether you're playing golf, writing an article or driving a bus; if you're having fun doing it, you're going to do a better job. If you're dreading doing it or uptight about doing it, got big time butterflies and knots in your stomach, you're probably not going to do as good and have as much fun. I know when you're having fun doing something, the stress level is greatly reduced.
I really appreciate his approach. I think it's the right way to do it.
Q. Can you expand on some of the stupid things and your singing misadventures?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, man, my singing sucks, I can tell you that right now (laughing).
Last night we all had to sing our college fight song, and it was really embarrassing and it was worse because some of us, including myself, didn't really know all the words. You kind of exposed a few guys that they think they are pretty good fans and they don't even know the words to the fight song at their school (laughter).
That was really fun. It was funny, I can tell you that. We've just done a lot of little things like that. Fishing, you know, taking pictures, playing these silly little games and stuff. You know, it's been really kind of a different atmosphere than certainly different than everyday professional golf life. He's made a real point to make sure everybody is relaxed, having fun together, including all the wives and actually all the people in the Official Party from the United States. I tell you what, his attention to detail has been immaculate.
Q. Firstly, one technical point, please, for those of us ignorant, could you explain to us what a college fight song is?
SCOTT VERPLANK: It's like a cheer.
Q. Just sing it for us.
SCOTT VERPLANK: No, I'll tell you right now, I'm not singing again. I'm not going to do that, okay (laughing).
GORDON SIMPSON: Who is the best singer?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, you know, Chad Campbell's wife, she sang a little bit. She can actually sing. She's somewhat of a professional.
GORDON SIMPSON: That doesn't count.
SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, Tom's a pretty good singer. He's pretty raspy but got up there and barked out the Minnesota Gophers song.
Q. Did Tiger sing, and what did he sing?
SCOTT VERPLANK: He kind of bailed out there when it got kind of rowdy. He came up, he snuck off and signed all the autographs for all our stuff, but when we all got back to the team room, we put him on the spot and made him sing to us.
Q. How was he?
SCOTT VERPLANK: He wasn't good (laughter), and he didn't like doing it.
GORDON SIMPSON: So he's not good at something.
SCOTT VERPLANK: No, I wouldn't recommend he go to a recording studio or anything like that.
Tom got him a little on the embarrassed side, which was good, and everybody had a good laugh.
Q. On Tiger, you said recently we're going to make him think that this is bigger than any other tournament, so how is that going this week and why did you feel the need to do that?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, I think I probably said that in jest, or you know, maybe wishful thinking.
He's less reserved and he's asserting himself a little bit more socially than I think he's done in the past. He's kind of buying into this having 11 buddies with him for a week instead of just, you know, me against the world. He's doing good. Like I said, he's more accessible, and he's actually a very good guy, but he's you know, I think he does a tremendous job in the position he's in of maintaining his priorities and keeping all of his stuff in line.
I could see how it's hard for him to let down some of his guards and fall under somebody else's schedule or plan, but I think he understands that to play well in this event, that's what he's got to do, and I think he's making some steps to do that.
Q. And how important is that for the American team for Tiger Woods to be on top of his game and winning?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, gosh, the guy is the best player in the world. He proves it over and over and over again. If he played five matches here like he plays in 95 percent of the major championships, he's going to win four or five points. Judging by how we've done here recently, that would be a nice boost.
Q. Could you tell us what your thoughts are on Brett Wetterich, mostly your thoughts on a guy that went from Q School to Ryder Cup in one year, and if you know who he was at the start of the year and if you could spell his name for us.
SCOTT VERPLANK: No, no, no, no (laughing).
No, I knew who he was at the start of the year but I didn't know him very well. He is I'll tell you what, the guy hits the ball so hard, it's incredible. He hits it past Tiger, and I would he hits it pretty darned accurate for a guy that hits it so far. He's a pretty good laugh in the team room. You know, he's pretty funny. He just kind of becomes a big goof, and everybody's having a good time with him, and he's having a good time with everybody else.
I think he's I wouldn't be surprised if he played very well here. He seems fairly relaxed, and he's got I'll tell you what, with his physical talent, he's got some game.
Q. You kind of alluded to this a couple of minutes ago; you said that you've always been "favoured." Does that feel any different, and really what difference does that make to you?
SCOTT VERPLANK: I don't really think it makes that much difference. To me personally it doesn't.
You know here that you're going to have to play well. You know, contrary to what some people say or believe, you know, there's not any chops in this deal, okay. Both teams have 12 good players, if not great players. In an individual match, you're going to have to play well to get a point for your team, and you know, I don't think as a team I think that if you don't stand on the first tee thinking you're going to win your match, then you're already behind.
So I think that the more relaxed and the more, you know, stress free and fun you're having, you've got a better chance of doing that. So I think everybody's going to be confident and happy and ready to go.
GORDON SIMPSON: Scott, glad you're in fine voice here anyway. Thank you very much for coming.
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