Its easy to enjoy yourself after shooting 65 and taking the lead into the weekend of the season-ending Tour Championship. Its even easier when you have Verplanks perspective.
Verplank, winner of this years Bell Canadian Open and member of the United States Ryder Cup, has come a long way since his golden days as an amateur; both professionally and personally.
His 6-under 65 in the second round at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, TX has him at 10-under-par 132, one shot clear of overnight co-leader Bernhard Langer and two removed from Mike Weir (66).
The golf course is perfect. And no wind, if you get going today, you can hit it at the hole and make some putts, Verplank said.
Langer followed an opening 65 with a 69. His fellow first-round leader didnt fare near as well. Frank Lickliter bogeyed four of his final five holes to shoot 2-over 73 and fall into a tie for 13th place at 4-under.
On a still Texas day, 24 of the 29 players in the field shot par or better. Mark Calcavecchia had the round of the day, a 7-under-par 64. Hes now tied with Justin Leonard (66) for fourth place at 7-under.
Check out Mark Calcavecchia's scorecard
Calcavecchias day consisted of two eagles, five birdies and a pair of bogeys. A three at the par-5 9th highlighted his round. For the second straight day, he hit the tree guarding the right portion of the green on his second shot. But instead of his ball caroming 40 yards backward ' like it did on Thursday ' it kicked onto the green and rolled four feet from the hole.
I hit a bad shot. I was hoping it would miss the tree and just end up in the bunker, Calcavecchia said. I had given up on it. I kind of looked down and all of a sudden I heard the crowd making some noise and I look up and its rolling over there toward the hole.
David Duval wasnt as fortunate Friday. Standing at 7-under for the tournament, his tee shot on the par-5 13th hit someone in the gallery and went into a hazard.
He re-teed, and once again his ball went right; this time it hit a tree and went into the same hazard.
Duval, who won this tournament here in 1997, eventually carded a triple-bogey-8 and finished the day at 4-under after a 69.
I played good. Im just really disappointed about my score, said Duval, who is still positive about his position. I started the day four (strokes) behind and it only took eight holes to tie (for the lead).
Hampered by a back injury, Woods shot a first-round 70. Friday, feeling better after some physical treatment, he shot 67 to move to 5-under-par.
Its not painful. Its just a little sore, Tiger said of his ailment.
Tiger was also feeling a little sore after finishing with a three-putt bogey on the final hole.
I felt like I hit the ball well today, said Woods. Just to make a silly mistake at the end like that, just not the way you want to cap off your round.
This is Verplanks fourth appearance in the Tour Championship. He first played in 1988 and tied for eighth. He won the Buick Open that year, three years after winning the Western Open as an amateur.
Little could he imagine ' or anyone else, for that matter ' that it would be 12 more years before he would reenter the winners circle on the PGA Tour.
A series of injuries, combined with frustration and self-doubt led to a trip to Q-School in 1997. After earning medalist honors, he made a strong return to the tour, earning a pair of runner-up finishes and over $1.2 million in 1998.
Then came another setback. Verplank learned he was a diabetic. He said he spent the 1999 season feeling sorry for himself and dipped to 82nd on the money list.
Now that I have got that straightened out and I am so much better it just makes golf so much easier, said the 37-year-old.
Recharged, reinvented and wearing a MiniMed insulin pump on his back while playing, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy won the 2000 Reno-Tahoe Open and climbed to 22nd in earnings.
I have a lot different attitude now. I look forward to playing, Verplank said. When you have something that you like to do and you have it taken away from you, it hits home, you know, it hits home a little bit deeper than, you know, if a guy is just playing bad and hes down in the dumps about his game.
This year, Verplank has seven top-10s. After a tie for seventh in the PGA Championship, captain Curtis Strange chose him for the Ryder Cup team. Two starts later, he won in Montreal.
I never really got a chance to let that soak in, he said of the victory. I got home late on Sunday. I played an outing on Mondaythen the next morning I am trying to get up and go to St. Louis, and you know, the world changed.
Verplank will have to wait another year before competing in his maiden Ryder Cup.
I will be as excited as anybody to be there at that time, he said. But right now, it just pales in comparison to what has gone on around the world.
Just another bit of perspective for Scott Verplank.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Verplank and Langer will tee off Saturday at 10:35 a.m. local time.
*Thursday, only Hal Sutton (at the par-5 10th) made an eagle. Friday, 14 players accomplished that feat. There were seven eagles on the par-5 9th and five on the par-5 5th.
*Thanks to a lack of wind, the course played to a 68.759 scoring average in the second round; compared to an average of 70.034 in round one.
Full-field scores from the Tour Championship