- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2008

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) | The wife of PGA Tour rules official Dillard Pruitt died Friday from complications of cystic fibrosis, news that hit Scott Verplank particularly hard after he finished his second round of the British Open.

Fran Pruitt and Verplank’s wife were sisters.

“She’s the one who introduced us,” he said quietly as he sat in the locker room at Royal Birkdale, so numb over the news that he wasn’t the least bit interested in his round of 67 that brought him back into contention, five shots out of the lead.

Pruitt’s death touched many PGA Tour members.

Her husband played on the PGA Tour from 1988 to 1996 before he decided to become a rules official. He is the younger brother of Jan Haas, who is married to Champions Tour player Jay Haas. And she set up her little sister, Kim, on a blind date in Dallas with Verplank.

Fran Pruitt, who was 46, had been awaiting a double lung transplant and took a turn for the worse earlier this week. Verplank, who brought his son with him to Britain and celebrated Scottie’s 16th birthday Monday, said he considered withdrawing Thursday, but his wife and Dillard Pruitt insisted he play.

“My wife said the only good news she had today was getting a text that I was playing good and that someone saw Scottie on TV,” Verplank said.

Links to the booth

Four straight bogeys late in his round kept Tom Watson from making the cut. He followed his 74 in miserable weather with a 76 in slightly better conditions, missing a weekend tee time by one shot.

Next up for Watson is the Senior British Open at Royal Troon, one of five links courses where he won the British Open.

But he won’t be leaving Royal Birkdale just yet.

Watson reluctantly agreed to try broadcasting this weekend and will join ABC Sports as a commentator.

“They asked me to do it, and I said, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ But on the other hand, the British Open is not a bad place for you to do it,” Watson said. “You have a chance to play in it, see the golf course, and tell the viewers what you think of a particular shot. I said, ‘You know what? I probably can do that. Let me give it a try.’ So that’s what I’m going to do the next couple days.”

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