Scott Verplank had waited what seemed like forever for this moment.
He talked up the U.S. Senior Open coming to Oak Tree National for months. He said his game was finally going in the right direction.
Then, when the moment came, he fell apart. Verplank shot a 4-over 75 Thursday in the opening round. He double-bogeyed three holes and practically duffed a tee shot
After his round, he was clearly shaken, but when talking with the media, he managed to handle it like a pro.
Q: It was a tough day today. What went wrong?
A: “Yeah, it was fairly embarrassing, to be honest with you. Unfortunately, I have not reached back to the level that I used to be, and I could have shot 90 today. I actually putted great on my last nine holes and made a long one on the last hole. I'm going to have to be a lot different player tomorrow and the rest of the day than I was today.”
Did being injured play a role?
“I'm hitting shots like I'm hurt still. I don't feel horrible. Unfortunately, I've been doing that for two years. I was sure hoping that all the hard work I put in was going to be a little bit better, but it wasn't today. Maybe it will be tomorrow.”
Maybe pressure isn’t the right word, but did being on your home course make a difference?
“No doubt. Yeah, I mean there's no question. I haven't been nervous on the first couple holes in a long time. I was a little nervous here, but I think most of that was because I really knew that I wasn't ready to play good enough to play like I want to play.
“But we'll see. You know what, I may get a good night's sleep and come out tomorrow and things feel better. I know I can still play. It's been a hard road. I just haven't gotten back to the level that I want to be at. So, we'll go from there.”
What happened on the tee shot you duffed?
“I topped it. Yeah. I put a 3-wood down on the dirt. I was trying to hit a low little punch shot, which I've been able to hit for the previous 50 years and I just — I just topped it.
“I mean literally — I mean, it didn't like dribble off. It got in the air for a second. I just hit it. My foot was hurting, I couldn't turn, I couldn't hit through it. I'm afraid to hit it because of my wrist. But I made a hell of a par.”
How are you handling it?
“Unbelievably for shooting a gazillion at my home course I actually had fun. It's great being out here and the golf course is awesome. It's great having people out and watching us play.”
Do you think it’s physical or mental at this point being hurt?
“I think it's a little bit of both. I guess the hard part is I'm thinking I'm going to have to fix it mentally because I don't know if I can get any younger or stronger or all that. We'll see what happens.”