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
     
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.