Verplank ready for Ryder Cup despite rib injury

Updated: September 15, 2006, 4:40 PM ET
Associated Press

FARMINGTON, Pa. -- Scott Verplank is certain he is ready for the Ryder Cup, even if his golf game didn't look like it Friday.

Verplank, one of five U.S. Ryder Cup team members playing in the 84 Lumber Classic, missed the cut after a 6-over 78 on Friday left him the bottom third of the field. He blamed his putter rather than a recent rib injury, saying, "I can't read the greens here."

Verplank insisted an injury that occurred Aug. 22 while a chiropractor was working on his back was not a factor. However, U.S. captain Tom Lehman was concerned enough that he has called Verplank repeatedly to make sure he was ready.

During a late-August scouting trip to the K Club, Verplank was limited to a couple of holes because of the injury. That's one reason Lehman wanted Verplank to play in at least one tournament before flying to Ireland.

"I wasn't looking forward coming to this tournament but, honestly, Tom wanted me to play since my back had been hurt there for a little bit," Verplank said. "So I did it. I hit it good. I just putted awful."

When Verplank got hurt, Lehman urged Davis Love III and Corey Pavin to be ready in case they were needed in Ireland.

"I don't know what's going on, but I would think they [Love and Pavin] don't need to worry about it," Verplank said. "I'm glad to put this behind me and I'm ready to go next week."

He is certain the rest of the Americans are, too, despite a 18½-9½ loss in 2004 at Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit, their most one-sided defeat since the Ryder Cup began in 1927.

Despite that embarrassing loss, the United States will roll out a team next week that includes the world's top three: Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson.

"I think everybody will be more than ready next week," Verplank said. "I think it's got a great balance. It's got some youthful enthusiasm and the veteran guys on the team like myself. I want to be there and I want to play, and there's only one thing that's important to me next week. You can't predict anything, but I think we will do well."

Verplank, a four-time tournament winner whose last victory came in 2001, acknowledged he spent much of this week thinking about next week, rather than the 84 Lumber Classic.

"It's the best event I've ever played in," Verplank said of the Ryder Cup. "It's quite the opposite of playing here this week. I wasn't really ready to play here mentally. Everybody will be ready to play next week."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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