ATLANTA — After nearly two years of not knowing when he would be able to play, Scott Verplank decided to have surgery to rebuild his left wrist and will be off the PGA Tour for about five months.
The surgery last Friday in Cleveland came one month after Verplank was in contention on the back nine of the PGA Championship until his tee shot came up a fraction short on the 17th green and led to a double bogey.
Verplank said that was one of the few weeks – and there weren’t many – when his wrist felt strong enough for golf.
“For three or four weeks, it was OK and I played good,” he said Wednesday from his home in Edmond, Okla. “The rest of the time, it was a massive struggle.”
Out of 15 tournaments, he withdrew three times and missed the cut three times, and there were two tournaments – The Honda Classic and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial – when he never made it to the first tee.
He also went down the stretch with Phil Mickelson in the Shell Houston Open and was a runner-up, had all four rounds in the 60s at The Greenbrier Classic and tied for fourth at the PGA Championship. He still earned nearly $1.2 million.
“If my tendon was staying in the groove on its own, I could play,” he said. “If it was moving around, it was tearing the sheath away from the bone. Those are the weeks I couldn’t play. They’ve got it all secured down now. Hopefully, it will heal the way it’s supposed to. Even though I’m in a soft cast, I can already feel a difference.”
Verplank was at No. 75 to start the FedEx Cup playoffs. He missed the cut at The Barclays and withdrew after one round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, ending his season.
“I knew when I went to New York (for The Barclays) that I needed to get something done,” he said. “I spent the last two years going to tournaments not knowing if I could play until I teed it up.”
Verplank, who won the first of his five PGA Tour titles when he was an amateur, hopes to return to competition as early as February. At 47, he thinks he has four or five good years left in the big leagues, and “there’s a lot of room to do some good stuff.”