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August 13, 2011

Scott Verplank


Q. How would you describe -- if you had a name for the last four holes, how would you name it and how would you describe it?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, man -- can I cuss? (Laughter).
They are hard. There's no -- I really, the last five holes are very difficult. The whole golf course is difficult but the last five holes are really, they are a stretch where you really cannot afford to miss a shot. You have to hit it in the fairway on all of the par fours, 14, 16 and 18, and obviously 15 is a bear.
And 17, you know, 17 is, too. But you know, 17 is kind of almost like the -- it's almost like the breather hole; not that it's a breather, because, you know, it plays 200-some yards. It's a big time shot. But it is a tough finish, there's no question about it.

Q. Within the context of the leaderboard, you are a grizzly veteran having made dozens of major championship appearances. How can that serve you tomorrow against guys that don't have that experience?
SCOTT VERPLANK: I don't know, the last time we played here in 2001, I played a really good last round and I think I finished about sixth or seventh. But it was huge, because I got picked for The Ryder Cup that night, and obviously I knew that Sunday was a huge round; that if I played good, my chances went up, and I had never been on a Ryder Cup and they had never picked a rookie. So I went out and played very well on that Sunday.
So even though they have changed a golf course a lot, I've had pretty good feelings around here.

Q. Do you think the tomorrow the guy who wins the tournament is going to be the guy that can survive 18?
SCOTT VERPLANK: More than likely. Yeah, 18 is a very difficult hole. I mean, it's a tough hole. Like I say, you have to hit two near-perfect shots. You have to shape a tee shot, regardless of what club you hit, you have to shape your tee shot in there, and then the second shot, you've got to hit a really nice -- whatever you're hitting in there, it better be good.

Q. Is it almost impossible, when you're putting your round together, to feel good; hey, I'm having a nice round here, I'm at 15, 16, I'm okay, and then to realize it can all go away that quickly at the very end?
SCOTT VERPLANK: No, it's not impossible. You just play one shot at a time. You know, this golf course, as difficult as it is, will make you play one shot at a time. So there's good and bad on every hole, so you just kind of go with the flow.

Q. With all of the peaks and valleys in your career, at 47, how does it feel to be in such good position to have a chance to win a major at your age?
SCOTT VERPLANK: It feels great. I don't feel a day older than a hundred. (Laughter) it's fantastic. I have had -- my year is just starting. My wrist has been bothering me for over a year; and just to be here, I didn't even know if I was going to be in the PGA until like a week ago, two weeks ago, because I still am in the top 100 in the world and that got me in the tournament.
Was excited to get to play here, and you know what, I hope that I can turn back the clock a little bit, and go back to when I was about 21 when I won everything I played in. Maybe that will happen overnight (smiling).

Q. You and Stricker are probably the two most familiar names on that leaderboard to golf fans; do you feel like a headliner right now on this show?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, well, thanks a lot. No, I don't know. This golf course is hard enough that you know, there's just, it can -- it obviously doesn't really favor one kind of player. There's guys that bomb it and obviously I'm not that long. If I'm hitting it good, I'm plenty long for this golf course; so if I hit it solid, because it plays short with the heat and it has not rained. But yeah, you know, I would expect Steve to play well tomorrow, and I'll just try to do the same.

Q. Considering how hard this finish is, you have guys in front of you playing their first major; do you expect that nerves will be a bigger factor than usual?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Oh, I don't know. I would sure think that if you stand up on the last hole, with the lead, you're not going to be -- you're not going to be like Whistling Dixie like it's no big deal. You're going to have to suck it up and hit a couple of really quality golf shots. Not that you don't have to do that everywhere, but I think the way the golf course is, it emphasizes that coming down the stretch.

Q. You touched on this, but how did it change the tenor of the final round, as opposed to a major like Augusta where there are some birdie chances coming down the stretch?
SCOTT VERPLANK: You know what, Strick shot 7-under the first morning, conditions were good, he played great, and since then, things haven't moved much. So it just tells you how hard the golf course is and how difficult it's playing. You've got to be there, and you've got to be there on every shot.

Q. How long were the putts on 17 and 18, and your yardage into 18?
SCOTT VERPLANK: Well, 17, I don't know. It had to be at least 40 feet. But I hit it like a 60-footer. But it hit the middle of the hole and popped up and went right in.
So you know, that evened out a couple of the really sorry breaks I got earlier on the back nine when I, you know, plugged it in the lip with a perfect shot. Anyway.
And 18 was about, I don't know, it was probably 18 feet, something -- I drove it in the bunker. Had to lay up. Got it down there to 100, or 102 or whatever and kind of a sidehill lie and I pulled it a little left of the hole. Made a nice putt there yesterday for par, so kind of thought about that, saw the good line, made a very nice stroke, and in it went.

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