TULSA, Okla. — What might have been, for Scott Verplank. Such a brilliant future so long ago. But there were obstacles most golfers would never understand, obstacles other than unraked bunkers or bumpy greens.

Obstacles that should have caused him to give it up.

"Well," he said once, "I've never quit anything. On one hand, that's good, because I just kept trying. On the other hand, that can make your problems worse, if you don't know how to take a step back."

The step 43-year-old Scott Verplank took Friday was very much forward. He moved into second place in the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills, shooting a 4-under par 66. He's two shots back of Tiger Woods, who admires Scott. But then everyone admires Scott.

"What he's had to battle through, people have no idea," Tiger said of Verplank.

He's had to battle diabetes since age 9.

He's had to battle three surgeries on his elbows.

He's had to battle a cracked rib.

He's had to battle his own deferred dreams.

"I was a top 10 player in the world when I was 21 years old," Verplank reminded. "I've had a lot of landscape in between. I was a very early-bloomer. Maybe I'll be a late-bloomer here."

Such a perfect setting. But will it be a perfect ending for a man, a gentleman if you will, who in his 20-years plus as a professional golfer never has finished better than seventh in a major?

Verplank, a father of four, lives in Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City, two hours away. He graduated — yes, a diploma — from Oklahoma State in 1986. There were friends and relatives and State alumni shouting Friday as he plodded through the 100-degree weather gripping the Southwest.

His career isn't what was expected when in 1985, as an undergrad Verplank took the Western Open, becoming the first amateur in 29 years to win a pro tournament. His career is much better than expected when, because of the injuries and the diabetes he missed 37 of 39 cuts during a stretch in the early 1990s.

An estimated 17 million people in the United States have diabetes, a disease when the body does not produce the insulin necessary for metabolizing sugar and moving it from the blood into cells, which use it for energy.

Verplank has been on a portable insulin pump since 1999.

"It's changed my life," he said. "I clip it on my belt. It's no bigger than a pager, and it's given me a whole new degree of freedom."

OBERHOLSER HANGS IN: Aaron Oberholser, the San Mateo High and San Jose State grad, shot a 2-over 72 and is at 140, in a tie for eighth.

"All in all to end up even at this point," said Oberholser, "well, I didn't really get the ball in the hole today, and my shot-making wasn't as crisp.

"I struggled with the pace of the greens. My speed was not as aggressive as I needed. With Tiger in front, it's hard for me to say I like my chances, but it's all a learning experience. I know that's a cliche, but it's the honest-to-god truth."

Oberholser double-bogeyed the 15. Thursday he doubled the 16th.

Bob McGrath, the pro from San Jose Muni, missed the cut of 5-over 145, shooting 80-78-158.