Change of Plans For Verplank
Strange, the 2001 United States Ryder Cup captain, chose Verplank and Paul Azinger as his two captains selections to round out his 12-man squad.
In addition to a trip to The Belfry, Verplank also earned a spot in this weeks $5 million NEC Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH.
I would have played in Reno, Verplank said. But when I got the call, he told me I couldnt go to Reno. I had to come here. So, okay, Ill sacrifice for you.
This will be Verplanks first Ryder Cup experience. It will be Azingers third, but his first since 1993, the year he was diagnosed with lymphoma.
Azinger made the team in 1989, 91 and 93. Both the 89 and 93 Cup matches were contested at The Belfry.
Im really excited about the opportunity to return to that level of competition. Thats the main thing, Azinger said Tuesday.
You know, Im happy Curtis decided I was worthy. I recognize that he jumped me ahead of several very good players, to pick me.
Azinger finished 22nd on the Ryder Cup points list following a tie for 22nd at the PGA Championship. Verplank tied for seventh at the PGA and finished 14th in the Ryder Cup standings.
Like Azinger, who has a 5-6-2 career Ryder Cup record, Verplank has had to battle a series of setbacks.
Aside from numerous injuries, Verplank is a diabetic. He is forced to wear a MiniMed insulin pump on his back, which regulates his blood sugar on a daily basis.
Im humbled that he picked me to represent the United States, Verplank said. Other than winning a major or maybe player of the year or something, to be a captains choice for the Ryder Cup, its right up there at the top of the list.
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Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.