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.
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.
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.
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
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    Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

    Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:

    Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.

    At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.

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    Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

    Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

    It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  

    Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    “I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

    After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

    Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

    “It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

    Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

    In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

    Made Cut

    Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

    U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

    Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

    “What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

    Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

    #MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

    Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

    Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

    Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

    “I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

    The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

    During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

    “Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

    The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

    Stay tuned.

    Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

    The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

    On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

    That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.

    Missed Cut

    West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

    J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

    Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

    But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

    Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

    It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.