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[IP] fyi... NY Times article

Verplank Makes Ryder Cup Captain Look Good

LE BIZARD, Quebec, Sept. 9  Scott Verplank made himself a
winner today and made Curtis Strange look good in the

A few eyebrows were raised last month when Strange selected
Verplank, who has never played in the Ryder Cup, as a
captain's pick for the United States team. No Ryder Cup
rookie had ever been named a captain's pick, and Strange
could have played it safer by choosing a veteran like Tom
Lehman or Brad Faxon.

Verplank muted many doubters at Royal Montreal Golf Club,
however, holding off a pack of pursuers that included John
Daly and Sergio Garcia to win the Bell Canadian Open.
Building a three-stroke lead with three holes to play and
then overcoming a double-bogey at No. 16, Verplank endured
for a three-stroke victory that will send him to England
for the Ryder Cup Sept. 28-30 with enormous confidence.

Verplank finished at 14-under-par 266 with a final-round
67, outlasting Bob Estes (68) and Joey Sindelar (65), who
tied for second place at 11 under par. Daly, coming off a
victory in Germany last week, shot a final- round 66 and
finished fourth at 10 under par, while Garcia, Paul Gow and
David Morland IV tied for fifth at 9 under par.

The fourth victory of Verplank's PGA Tour career came at an
ideal time. Though he tried to ignore the whispers about
his worthiness for the Ryder Cup team, Verplank was keenly
aware that he had not won this year, giving his critics
more fuel. Daly and Garcia drew the larger galleries and
most of the attention, but Verplank earned a triumph that
was especially gratifying.

"Not that it matters to me, but maybe to everybody else,
this makes Curtis look a little smarter than they thought
he was," Verplank, who earned $684,000 and jumped to No. 7
on the Tour money list, said. "I'm happy he picked me. If I
play like this in two weeks at The Belfry, he's going to
look a whole lot smarter."

His peers believe Verplank will handle the situation.

"I have been playing against Scott since I was about 12
years old, so I know how good he is," Estes said. "I have
been chasing him since I was a teenager. Scott knew that
he's good enough to represent the United States on the
Ryder Cup team, and I'm glad he's on the team. 

"No loud, drunk, obnoxious Brit," Estes said in reference
to possible Ryder Cup fans, "is going to bother Scott.
He'll just stick it in your face."

Verplank started the day with a one-stroke lead over Gow,
and they were tied at 12 under par through eight holes,
with Daly just a stroke behind. Verplank took sole
possession of the lead for good with a 10-foot birdie putt
at No. 9. Then, after another birdie at the par-5 No. 14,
Verplank rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 15 that
ballooned his lead to three strokes over Estes, who was
playing one group ahead.

At that point, Verplank had not bogeyed all day, and he
appeared poised for a cruise-control victory. The
atmosphere got tense, however, on the very next hole, the
par-4, 433-yard No. 16, where Verplank made a hideous
double-bogey. After blasting a poor tee shot into the right
rough, his next shot landed well short of the green. After
hitting his next shot into the green-side rough, Verplank
hit a terrible chip, forcing him to two-putt for a nasty 6.
Suddenly, Verplank's cushion was reduced to one shot, but
Verplank shrugged off the blunder.

"I didn't say anything, other than `you dummy,' " Verplank
said. "I just said, `Get up there and hit a good shot on
the next hole.' "

Obeying his command, Verplank hit a solid tee shot at the
par-3, 161-yard No. 17 that landed 20 feet from the hole.
While Verplank was making the birdie putt at No. 17, Estes
failed to get up and down from a bunker and bogeyed the
par-4, 448-yard No. 18. That gave Verplank a three-stroke
lead heading to the final hole, and though he hit a poor
tee shot, he ended the tournament splendidly by making a
25-footer to save par.

The Canadian crowd cheered warmly for Verplank, a
37-year-old who has coped with diabetes since age 9 and who
has overcome two major elbow surgeries during the
mid-1990's to recapture his place among the game's best.
Verplank was one of the most heralded amateur players in
history, winning the United States Amateur championship in
1984 and the N.C.A.A. championship at Oklahoma State in

In 1985, Verplank became the first amateur in 29 years to
win a Tour event, but by the early 90's, elbow woes
threatened to end his career. Verplank made only one cut in
both 1990 and '91, but by 1998, he was once again one of
the Tour's best players, and the insulin pump he wears
during tournaments has helped him maintain his energy

Verplank talked about his respect for the Canadian Open, in
which Jack Nicklaus was a runner-up six times but never
won. And for those worried about his place on the Ryder Cup
team, Verplank had given a response. "I didn't lobby for
the pick," Verplank said. "If people are really worried
about it, maybe today will help them sleep better."

Katherine Korol
(734) 673-8160
email @ redacted


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