Grizzled veterans that are what the top of the leaderboard of the 93rd PGA Championship is missing, with one exception.
At 47, Scott Verplank has never won a major championship, but in a career that started in 1992 on the PGA Tour, Verplank has won five times and had his chances down the stretch in majors, but maybe his best chance was here at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.
“I played a really good last round and I think I finished about sixth or seventh,” Verplank said of his final round 67 when he finished seventh. “But it was huge, because I got picked for The Ryder Cup that night, and obviously I knew that Sunday was a huge round; that if I played good, my chances went up, and I had never been on a Ryder Cup and they had never picked a rookie. So I went out and played very well on that Sunday.”
Of course the Ryder Cup is next year, so Verplank is only playing to win his first major of a career that has been very profitable. With career earning of over $27 million, but no significant wins in that stretch.
With a 2011 season that Verplank could easily forget, with only two top 10s, a runner-up finish at the Shell Houston Open and a 9th at The Heritage, the journeyman is 93rd in the FedEx Cup points list and the PGA Championship is the first major he has played in this year.
The Oklahoma State University graduate didn’t even know until two weeks ago he was going to be eligible for the event, benefiting from being in the top 100 in the world rankings.
“I was excited to get to play here, “ Verplank said after recording his third round in the 60’s. “And you know what, I hope that I can turn back the clock a little bit, and go back to when I was about 21 when I won everything I played in. Maybe that will happen overnight.”
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.