EDMOND — Scott Verplank was sitting in his home office sorting through a stack of unopened mail earlier this week when he came across a plain-looking envelope.
Its contents: an AARP membership application.
“Oh, my gosh,” he thought.
The longtime professional golfer laughed as he recounted the tale Tuesday.
“But I was like, ‘Well, I guess it’s real,’” he said.
Happy 50th birthday, Scott.
On Wednesday, Verplank celebrates this milestone birthday, and even though he’s told his wife that he wants no parties this week, there’s quite a shindig happening in his Oak Tree neighborhood — the U.S. Senior Open.
The final practice day is Wednesday, and the four-day tournament starts Thursday, with the first groups teeing off at 7:15 a.m.
Players have to be at least 50 years old to play in Champions Tour events, so this is the first tournament that Verplank will be eligible to enter. What are the odds? A major championship. A tournament on his home course. A chance to make a statement in his senior debut.
“Any time you get to play … on the golf course that I live on, that I practice at every day, that I love,” Verplank said, “it’s a great deal.”
Verplank has played on the PGA Tour since 1986, and while he’s won more than $27 million during his career, the past few years have been tough. A number of injuries have hampered him, most notably a wrist injury that required surgery in 2011, but Father Time has also made it increasingly difficult to compete on tour.
“Actually, I was kind of joking the other day, and I said, ‘Yeah, I think I’m about ready to start playing with kids my own size again,’” Verplank said, laughing. “You know, pick on somebody your own age or your own size because the kids on the PGA Tour are getting out there.”
It’s not just the younger generations’ age. It’s their stature, too.
“Kids that play football and baseball and basketball, they play golf now,” Verplank said. “They’re 6-4, 6-5, and I’m standing on the range looking up at them going, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’”
At 5-foot-9, Verplank will be one of the more diminutive players on the Champions Tour, too, but his talent will stand up well. Just last week at the PGA Tour stop in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., he shot 68 in the second round.
He’s playing well enough that some are picking him to win this week.
“I’m going to have to play as good as I can play to have a chance,” Verplank said. “I’m not going to be able to just roll out of bed and show up on the first tee and expect to beat everybody.”
He’ll have some pretty stiff competition in his group alone. Verplank, who won the 1984 U.S. Amateur at Oak Tree, will be playing the first two days with other guys who have won here, too. Jeff Sluman won the 1988 PGA Championship on the course, and Jay Haas won the 2006 Senior PGA Championship in the last major event that Oak Tree hosted.
The threesome will tee off at 1:52 p.m. Thursday and 8:07 a.m. Friday.
And Verplank is sure to hear some teasing about being the young guy. He’s been getting ribbed all week about not even being 50 yet.
That changes Wednesday, of course.
Now, about that AARP application …
“I didn’t fill it out yet, OK?” he said. “I know I’ve got to start eating dinner at 4:30 and stuff like that.”
He smiled and laughed again.
If this is what Scott Verplank looks like at 50, everyone else at Oak Tree this week might want to look out.