Captain's pick Verplank wants to play more

Published September 24, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland - Scott Verplank must be wondering why Tom Lehman picked him for the Ryder Cup.

After not playing on the first day of the matches, Verplank - an alternate-shot specialist because he is among the straightest hitters in golf - was sent out in a fourballs match Saturday morning. He and Zach Johnson produced the only U.S. victory.

Then Verplank returned to the bench.

"I would be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed and feel like I shouldn't have another chance or two," Verplank said. "But I'll have another chance (today), and hopefully . . . we'll still have a chance as a group to win. That's what we're all here for."

Verplank finished 20th in the Ryder Cup standings, so it was considered a bold move for Lehman to take him.

"One of the things that I think our team needs is somebody who can really putt and really can chip, who can drive the ball, put it in the fairway, who is a tough, tough, tough competitor, who will never quit, never give up," Lehman said of Verplank the day he picked him.

Apparently, that didn't come with a guarantee to play.

Verplank said ultimately he cared only about winning. A captain's pick in 2002, he played both foursomes matches and went 2-1 in another U.S. loss.

"If we win the Ryder Cup, Captain Lehman is going to look like a genius," Verplank said. "And that's what I'm hoping."

DRESS CODE: Ian Woosnam and Lehman have to guess how the other captain is going to arrange his team for each session of matches. Apparently, they don't trade secrets on uniforms, either.

Both teams arrived on the first tee Saturday morning wearing dark slacks and blue shirts, and the only way to tell them apart was when the Americans put on their black sweaters.

The Americans kept their same uniforms for the afternoon, while the Europeans switched to a lavender top.

MILLER TIME: NBC commentator Johnny Miller might have been getting on the nerves of U.S. players without even knowing it.

Ryder Cup officials made available NBC Sports' raw feed, which included the chatter during commercial breaks. Miller had no shortage of material, whether it was Tiger Woods' sloppy game or Verplank needing to "wake up" because his partner, Johnson, was making all the birdies.

Once it was pointed out the raw feed was going to the U.S. team room, it mysteriously ended.

There was talk the U.S. players decided not to speak to NBC, but Chris DiMarco said that wasn't the case and that players weren't even listening.

"We don't flatter him that way," he said.

on a roll: Sergio Garcia might never win a major championship, but he has the market cornered when it comes to Ryder Cup success.

Garcia picked up two more victories Saturday to run his winning streak to nine matches. He and fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal dominated Phil Mickelson and DiMarco 3 and 2 in the fourballs. Garcia then paired with Luke Donald in the foursomes to beat Mickelson and David Toms 2 and 1.

"A good partner helps," Garcia said.

"Luke and I make a very good couple."

DIVOTS: Johnson made seven birdies as he and Verplank won their fourballs match Saturday morning. That's more birdies than DiMarco and Mickelson made combined in their two fourball matches at the Ryder Cup. ... Mickelson is 1-7-1 in his last nine Ryder Cup matches. ... Europe's captains picks (Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood) have contributed half of Europe's 10 points.


6:15 a.m.: David Toms, United States vs. Colin Montgomerie, Europe

6:27: Stewart Cink, United States vs. Sergio Garcia, Europe

6:39: Jim Furyk, United States vs. Paul Casey, Europe

6:51: Tiger Woods, United States vs. Robert Karlsson, Europe

7:03: Chad Campbell, United States vs. Luke Donald, Europe

7:15: J.J. Henry, United States vs. Paul McGinley, Europe

7:27: Zach Johnson, United States vs. Darren Clarke, Europe

7:39: Vaughn Taylor, United States vs. Henrik Stenson, Europe

7:51: Brett Wetterich, United States vs. David Howell, Europe

8:03: Phil Mickelson, United States vs. Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe

8:15: Chris DiMarco, United States vs. Lee Westwood, Europe

8:27: Scott Verplank, United States vs. Padraig Harrington, Europe