PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Like much of the eastern seaboard, it was snowing at Riviera’s 10th hole on Thursday morning. Well, the 315-yard risk-reward par 4 wasn’t covered in the white stuff like in the photos circulating of Augusta National and Pinehurst No. 2, but Scott Verplank was busy making golf’s version of a snowman, a quadruple-bogey 8.
It’s been a tough season for the 49-year-old Verplank, who has made just one cut in seven starts and failed to meet the terms of his major medical extension. He’s elected to use a career earnings exemption to play the remainder of the season.
Verplank’s tee shot at the 10th hole landed in the left side of the fairway. Yes, he made 8 the hard way – without a penalty stroke. The trouble began when his approach to the back-left pin position from 77 yards landed in the right green side bunker. In a quick check of his stats, Verplank has typically been below-average from the sand but in 2001 he did rank No. 2 on Tour, getting up-and-down 66 percent of the time. On this day, his performance at Riviera’s 10th was more reminiscent of a rank amateur. Verplank’s first bunker shot flew long into the left greenside bunker. After leaving his fourth in the bunker, he then knocked it back into the right bunker where he had started. He made the shameful walk across the green and finally splashed out 34 feet from the hole and two-putted for the snowman.
Tough day for Verplank and his caddie, Shay Knight, who was on Verplank’s bag for the first time. Verplank made two doubles and a bogey and was 10-over-par when he withdrew on the ninth hole citing a bad back. By then, you could say his chances of making the cut had melted away in the California sunshine.