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U.S. Senior Open: Scott Verplank's fairy-tale setup doesn't work out as planned

The Oak Tree National member was playing his first Champions Tour event, a major championship on his home course. But things didn’t turned out the way Scott Verplank wanted.
by Jenni Carlson Published: July 11, 2014

EDMOND — Scott Verplank wanted to helicopter his driver into the pond cutting across the ninth fairway.

But rather than whirrly birding it into water after another errant tee shot, he gave it away. Just handed it to a spectator in the gallery.

“I won’t have to mess with that one anymore,” Verplank said.

Won’t have to mess with this U.S. Senior Open either.

This week’s tournament was supposed to be the perfect setup for Verplank. After turning 50 the day before the tournament started, he was playing his first Champions Tour event, a major championship on his home course. Surely he would contend. Maybe he would win.

But sometimes, fairy tales don’t come true.

Verplank shot 4-over par in each of the first two rounds and failed to make the cut by one shot.

Thursday, he nearly broke down after his round.

Friday, he was emotional again, but this time, he sounded like a guy more ready to retire than keep playing. There were lots of long pauses in his press conference. Lots of “I don’t know.” Lots of head shaking.

“I just have no idea where I’m going to hit the golf ball,” he said.

Verplank hit shots in places that he’s never been before at Oak Tree National — and that’s saying something. This has been Verplank’s home course for 25 years. He’s played thousands of rounds here, and yet, he found himself in foreign lands Thursday and Friday.

“You know, I’m going to have to figure out a way to play (consistently) if I want to keep playing,” he said, “because whatever I’m doing isn’t working.”

What Verplank did on No. 5 and 6 Friday is a microcosm of his struggles. He birdied the par-4 fifth, and it was textbook. Drive down the right-center of the fairway. Approach to 6 or 8 feet. Knock home the putt.

Verplank, who went to 1-over for the day with that birdie and was in great shape to make the cut, had a little spring in his step as he walked to the tee at the sixth. Maybe he could get on a roll, string together some birdies and make a little run.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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