Notes Verplank May Skip Next Month

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2004, 4:00 pm
KILKENNY, Ireland -- Tiger Woods isn't the only guy coping with an injury at Mount Juliet. Scott Verplank has been battling a severe foot problem since April. He has been grinding it out all year, and some weeks he can get by just fine. This isn't one of those weeks.
 
Verplank shot an 82 in the second round. Walking with a noticeable limp Saturday, he showed plenty of grit with an even-par 72 that still left him 65th in a 68-man field at 9-over 225 at the American Express Championship.
 
'After yesterday, if I wasn't in Ireland, I'd have gone home,' Verplank said. 'I'm just beating my head against the wall here. But I'll tell you why I'm playing. I wake up every day hoping I'm going to be better.'
 
But Verplank might not be playing much longer.
 
He decided not to play next week in Las Vegas, and might not play the rest of the year until the Tour Championship.
 
'I called my wife and said Vegas was not looking good,' Verplank said. 'She said, 'Can't you just come home and get a cortisone shot?' That's her favorite tournament of the year.'
 
But the Tour Championship means a lot, and that was another reason for Verplank to keep grinding.
 
He is 22nd on the money list with just over $2 million, which might be right around the cutoff for top 30 to make the Tour Championship. Verplank stands to earn about $32,000 this week. If he were to withdraw, money from the no-cut tournament would not count toward his official earnings.
 
'Last-place money here might be enough to get me in the Tour Championship,' Verplank said. 'It could be a mistake. But I want to play.'
 
Just his luck, Verplank found out he might be eligible for the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth in two weeks, a tradition-rich tournament he has always wanted to play.
 
'I have a history of bad timing, bad breaks,' said Verplank, a diabetic since he was a kid. 'I don't know if it's bad breaks, just bad health. But it just knocks you down.'
 
Still, Verplank manages to keep getting up.
 
FREDDIE AND THE KIDS
Fred Couples can work an autograph line better than anyone.
 
After a 2-under 70, Couples walked over to the iron fence and started signing, looked down a 100-yard row of fans and realized his day was far from over. But instead of walking briskly past the crowd, he bantered with the kids, treating them like long-lost nephews.
 
One of them asked Couples for his visor.
 
'I'll trade you for this one,' Couples replied as he signed the boy's New York Yankees cap. 'This is cool.'
 
A few yards away, he spotted another Yankees cap and asked how many New York fans grew up in Ireland.
 
'I like the White Sox,' an Irish boy said with a smile.
 
'They didn't make the playoffs,' Couples replied.
 
Several kids asked him for balls, tees, a glove, anything he had on them. Couples stepped back, grinned and showed his empty pockets, hamming it up.
 
Another kid asked him to sign a ball.
 
'Whose is it?' Couples asked.
 
'It's yours,' the boy said.
 
'Great caddie I've got,' Couples said under his breath.
 
The one that really stumped him was the boy who said he was 'BEGGING' for his autograph. Couples took the program and noticed his name already at the bottom.
 
'I already signed this,' he said.
 
No matter. The boy wanted him to sign it again, and Couples obliged.
 
SUNDAY FORECAST
Hurricane Jeanne was the reason Nick Price and Vijay Singh stayed home from the American Express Championship. Leftovers from Jeanne might keep everyone else from leaving.
 
The forecast for Sunday is for heavy rain and strong wind - so nasty that the final round will be played in threesomes starting at 8:05 a.m. from both tees with hopes of finishing.
 
Otherwise, the final round will be completed on Monday.
 
DIVOTS
The most erratic round of the day belonged to Yong-Eun Yang of South Korea. He didn't make a par until the eighth hole, went nine straight holes without a birdie and still shot 71. Yang opened with a birdie, made back-to-back bogeys, then reeled off an incredible stretch of birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to be 4 under through seven holes. But he gave it back with a bogey-bogey-double bogey stretch starting on the 11th. ... Justin Leonard, who was in fourth place going into the third round, opened with 12 pars before a triple bogey on No. 13, twice hitting in the water. He wound up with a 77. ... Tiger Woods has never finished worse than a tie for fifth in World Golf Championships that are stroke play. He was tied for eighth going into the final round.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-American Express Championship
  • Full Coverage - WGC-American Express Championship
     
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.