US Places Hopes on Verplank Tway


04 WGC-EMC World CupThe last time the United States had gone three World Cups without winning, they employed the services of Tiger Woods, who went on to win the team title along with Mark OMeara.
Woods returned the following year with David Duval, and the U.S. repeated as champions.
That was four years ago. Woods hasnt since competed. And the U.S. hasnt since been victorious.
This year will mark the 50th playing of the World Cup. The Americans have won 23 of the 49 previous tournaments, with plenty of powerhouse combinations.
There was Ben Hogan and Sam Snead; Snead and Arnold Palmer; Palmer and Jack Nicklaus; Nicklaus and Lee Trevino; Nicklaus and Johnny Miller; Fred Couples and Davis Love III; and Woods and Duval.
Now, they will turn to Scott Verplank and Bob Tway to reverse the current tide, or for the first time since the inception of this tournament in 1953, the U.S. will have gone four World Cups without winning.
Verplank and Tway got the nod because so many others shook their heads no. The World Cup is on offer to the top-ranked player from select countries. That player then gets to choose his partner. If that player declines the offer, the invitation goes to the next player from that country in the rankings.
So, as it was, Tiger Woods was the first man asked to represent the U.S. He deferred. As did Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Chris DiMarco, Chad Campbell, Kenny Perry and Todd Hamilton. Hamilton wanted to play, but has to be in Hawaii the Monday after the World Cup for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
It eventually got down to Verplank, who finally said yes, and chose Tway as his partner.
Verplank and Tway may not be the most notable names the U.S. has to offer, but they could prove to be a formidable team. The two are best friends and neighbors at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla.
Verplank is making his second World Cup appearance. He played alongside John Daly in New Zealand in 1998. They tied for third as a team, but Verplank did capture individual medalist honors.
Then the World Golf Championships stepped in and changed everything.
The world rankings were used to determine teams in 99, and No. 1 Woods choose OMeara as his partner. The next year (when it officially became a WGC event), the criteria stayed the same, but the format changed. It went from combining both players score to two rounds of better ball and alternate shot; thus eliminating an individual medalist. In 2001, they altered the criteria again, where the top two players from each country had to play with each other. That would have meant Woods and Phil Mickelson would have had to be teammates ' Woods declined.
This year, the PGA Tour made another change to where the top-ranked player could again choose his teammate, as long as he was in the top 100 in the world.
Verplank would love to make a statement this week. He was left off the U.S. Ryder Cup team, when Hal Sutton bypassed him as a captains selection. He has been bothered with foot problems this year, but it wont keep him from representing his country in this event.
This years tournament will be contested at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla in Sevilla, Spain.
Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez will represent the host country, who is seeking their fifth team title, and first since 1984.
South Africans Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini are the defending champions. They won at Kiawah Island a year ago with a 275 total.
There are 24 two-man teams in the field, 18 of which were automatically exempt and six others qualified.
The teams will play two rounds of four-ball (better ball) and two rounds of foursomes (alternate shot).
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