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April 25, 2000

Scott Verplank


LEE PATTERSON: Maybe just a couple of thoughts about your round today and then we will entertain questions.

SCOTT VERPLANK: Okay. Obviously, I played really well. I hit the ball pretty straight off the tee which is, obviously, key around here; particularly since we are getting to play, lift, clean and place. It is really a big advantage to be in the fairway. I actually hit the ball quite bit better than I did I the first two days; really didn't play all that great, physically, the first two rounds. However, I scored okay. So, that is kind of part of the game. And today, I actually played quite a bit better. Hit more solid shots and putted pretty good. Actually, didn't putt as good today. It just kind of makes you feel that way because if you hit a lot more greens, 10-footers and you miss a few of them, you know -- the other days, I was hitting it ten feet and making it every time because those were the few chances I had. But, so, obviously, very pleased. I made a nice putt on 2 and then birdied 5 and 7 and then -- so I have been playing pretty good. That shot I had -- just saw on that (pointing to TV replay) holed it from the fairway on 9. That kind of moves me from 3-under -- is playing pretty good; all of a sudden, I shoot 5-under on the front. Now I am on the brink of playing pretty well; something exceptional. So that was definitely the motor to my round today.

Q. The leaders weren't able to go out and shoot the low numbers that everybody else was today. I mean --

SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, sometimes they do; sometimes they don't. I mean -- I guess Bob Estes, you know, was leading and Hal Sutton, I don't know what he is doing, but they played great. Golf is a game that you don't play great everyday. You have you have got to kind of still shoot a score when things aren't going great for you. So, generally, out here, you will play pretty good three rounds. If you win a golf tournament, you play pretty good three rounds and one round you might, you know, just get it in. I don't know. I guess these new guys play good everyday, so.....

Q. Give us the history on that elbow thing, just sort of -- what caused that? Is that a wear-and-tear injury or throwing too many sliders or what? Synopsis?

SCOTT VERPLANK: Yeah, I just had a degenerative joint in my right elbow; don't know how I got it. Nobody seems to know. But that knocked me out for a year and a half of playing and really knocked me out about three years of playing the Tour. And, actually had left elbow surgery about two years ago just from overuse and bearing the burden of my right elbow not being any good, my left elbow got a little messed up. But, it wasn't as serious of a physical problem. It turned into a more serious mental problem. I wasn't too happy -- these -- I felt like when I had surgery on my right elbow, I felt like I had a solution to my problem: I couldn't play. So, I said: Fine, I finally got an answer why I am playing so poorly. So I kind of turned it into a positive deal, said, yeah, I will get over this and I will be okay; I will get back to playing like I know how. Then my left elbow in '96 -- I was playing very well first two, three months of the year. It started bothering me. I had to have surgery, so I was in a bad mood for eight, ten months with this other one. That took me a little longer to get over mentally. Like I said, I was not real happy about it and I am kind of like -- so I think I have turned the corner now.

Q. You are out of elbows, anyway.

SCOTT VERPLANK: That's right.

LEE PATTERSON: Just go over the details for us real quick.

SCOTT VERPLANK: 2, I made about a 25-footer for birdie. 5, I hit a sand wedge on 5 about six feet. Made that. 7, I hit the 9-iron about ten feet. Obviously, I holed it from 85 yards on number 9; that was an L-wedge, 60 degree wedge. 11, I hit a sand wedge about ten feet. And then bogeyed 17. I hit it pin-high. I was only 20 feet from the hole, but I was just into the -- not into the real thick stuff, but into the first cut of rough which is extremely sticky and, actually, almost worse than the thick stuff for a little short chip and I kind of -- I was afraid it was going to come out hot and the ball kind of died coming out of the rough. I left it about seven, eight feet of the short and hit a great putt and I thought -- and it actually broke up at the hill, in my opinion. And then 18, I hit 8-iron about probably 12, 15 feet, I guess, and made that.

Q. Can you redefine your goals since the second elbow surgery? Do you have different goals now than you had, say, six years ago?

SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, no. They are pretty similar. Like I said, just taking me a lot longer to get back to this point. I was back at this point in the end of '95 and first of '96. Then like I said, I had this little problem with my left elbow and instead of just being the eight months it took me to heal up, it took me a year and eight months because I didn't have -- I was a little bit down about it and I struggled quite a bit like last year. I really was playing okay, but I just said -- I lost confidence there. My body -- to be honest with you -- that is kind of what happens. You keep getting hurt, you lose confidence in your body. I don't want to get a real job. I want to keep playing golf. And, so, that is why I was in a bad mood for quite a while. My wife and kids are pretty strong to put up with me.

Q. What kind of round is it going to take for you to win tomorrow?

SCOTT VERPLANK: A good one. I don't know. I mean, I don't know what the scores are. You are going to have to shoot under par - 3-, or 4-, 5-under par, at least, I would think. The weather forecast looks good, doesn't it?


SCOTT VERPLANK: The greens are in good shape and I guess a lot of that might depend on if we put the ball in our hand or not, too. I think that is -- that makes it a little bit easier - no question.

Q. We all know that you are very, very capable of throwing up a lot of red numbers when you are ready. You say you feel right physically. How about mentally now?

SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, I am better. There is no question. I wouldn't be sitting right here if I wasn't better. I still haven't quite, you know -- I don't know -- to me, when I know I am back is when I win a golf tournament. So, obviously, I am close. I was tied for the lead going last round of Phoenix, for example, this year, and actually, if I had putted any good, I would have had the lead going to the back 9 because I just hit it as good as I have ever hit it on the front 9 that day and made 9 pars. And I ended up having not finishing all that great. But it was a good experience because I played well and I actually could have won that golf tournament. So, here I am. Tomorrow, I am going to be -- I don't know what the lead is going to be. I might be tied. I might be a couple back; I don't know. But, you know, if I play well, I am going to have a chance.

Q. Physically how is your game different than, say, six or eight years ago? Longer? Shorter? Putting better? How has your game changed since --

SCOTT VERPLANK: I think -- here in the last six months, I have -- I am hitting the ball further with the -- I finally went to one of these big headed drivers with a longer shaft and I definitely hit the ball a little bit further; just makes it easier to drive the ball straight and far. It is pretty much the same. All I can tell you was, you know, when I won the Western Amateur 1985, I had a lot of confidence in my ability to win the golf tournament. That is what I am trying to build back up to right now. I figured if I was in the lead, I was going to win, so that is where I am trying to get back to now.

Q. Have you wondered, you know, speculated about if the feeling would come back in the hunt tomorrow? Is that something you thought about or just a matter of playing well enough to get there?

SCOTT VERPLANK: I think it is just -- well, I don't know how to answer that. All I can tell you -- the front I was tied for the lead playing the last group in Phoenix this year and I -- in the past, if I would have been real nervous or upset -- uptight about it, I wouldn't have hit the ball very good. I might have been saving myself by getting up-and-down all that. For the first nine holes, I striped it. And I just could not make a putt. The greens were kind of sorry there on the front 9, and I couldn't make a putt. Then I actually 3-putted 10 and missed a little short one on 11; all of a sudden I am out of the tournament, I can't win. But, if I would have just done what I was supposed to do there, I would have been leading going to the back 9. I think that would have been another kind of -- putting a little bit more foundation under my feet. So, I just go out and try and play as good as I can tomorrow. I am going to -- I am going to try to win. That is still a long way off. If I play good -- if I play good, I should have a chance, put it that way. If I don't play good, I am not going to have a chance.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?

End of FastScripts....

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