Scott Verplank is quickly approaching his 47th birthday, and admits to feeling old. Pain associated with an arthritic left wrist has plagued him for about a year.
He arrives at this week’s Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., having played a sparse 2011 schedule, but he is hopeful of regaining some of the successful mojo of seasons past.
“It’s just one of those deals getting old, I guess,” said Verplank, who has played nine events this season with erratic results. He has a pair of top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the Shell Houston Open, a pair of missed cuts and three finishes outside the top 25.
“My biggest problem with it is I haven’t been able to be consistent. I’ve been able to play some weeks and feel okay and I’ve played some other weeks and just been terrible.”
Verplank, though, is not one to dwell on the ailments that go along with being in the profession for so long, which for him has been since 1986 after a heralded amateur career in which he won the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1984 and the NCAA Championship in 1986 while playing for Oklahoma State University.
A year ago at the Travelers Championship, Verplank tied for second, losing in a three-man playoff to Bubba Watson. While Verplank, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, could view last year as an opportunity lost, he was actually surprised to have even been in a playoff.
“I played very well, made two eagles on the back nine, and all of a sudden I’m playing up 17 and 18 thinking if I could birdie one of those two, then I’d have a really good shot at a playoff,” he said. “Well, if I would have birdied either one of them, I could have actually outright won. And I had two good looks at it.”
“I was really happy to even have a shot, to be honest with you. At the beginning of the day I would have never thought that I had a chance.”
“I’m really looking forward to coming back here,” he said. “I love this golf course. I’ve done very well around here and had a lot of good rounds, so I’m excited to be here this week.”
Now, if only his left wrist will cooperate.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.