Couch Primed For Another PGA Tour Shot

By Alison PierceJuly 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
A lanky 16-year-old Chris Couch peered out at the heaving mass of golf fans lining the first fairway at the 1990 Honda Classic in Coral Springs, Fla. Only 156 pounds clung to his 6 foot 2 inch teenage frame, his knees trembled as he bent to put his tee in the ground. Man, this is unbelievable, he thought, willing a straight first drive. And this is what I want to do one day.
Chris Couch
Chris Couch proved he can play with the big boys with his T-13 at the Cialis Western Open.
Couch knew he was bound for the PGA Tour since his dad got him into golf at age 7. He still believes it. Couch grew up on the windy flats of South Florida, where you play golf all year round. He entered every junior tournament he could and rose to the top at age 17 as the No. 1 ranked junior golfer in the country and was bound for glory.
At the National Junior PGA Championship in 1991 Couch was headed into the fourth round with a one-shot lead. That night in his hotel room he watched the local news where the favorite, a young man named Tiger Woods, was interviewed. The reporter asked Tiger what he thought he needed to win. Tiger said if he shot even par he would easily take the tournament. That got me fired up, says Couch. So Tiger shot his even par and I shot a 63. Its a good story.
Yet Couchs career has been anything but consistent. Known as a streaky player, the last 10 years have been marked by dramatic peaks and valleys. Couch recorded a tie for seventh on the PGA Tour at the 1999 Sony Open in Hawaii, a career best, but failed to keep his card. He hit a mental low the next year on the Nationwide and was ready to hang up his clubs. I was tired of traveling, I was tired of playing bad, says Couch, who by then had a young family.
He went straight to the head pro at Gainesville Country Club, Cary Splane, who also happens to be a good friend, and he asked for a job. Stlane said, I would love to have you, but I wont have you. Youre too good, you cant quit. Three months later Couch entered the Nationwide's season-opening Florida Classic under a sponsors exemption and won the tournament. He took home his first career victory and got his status back on the Nationwide Tour. Its an ongoing joke with us now, says Couch. Every time I call him, he says he has a job opening for me.
There was yet another time in his career that Couch nearly gave up. He had run out of money mid-season in 2003 and borrowed $3,000 from PGA Tour member Brenden Pappas to continue playing. I gave myself three weeks, says Couch. The first week I finished 25th, the second week I finish seconnd, and the third in Knoxville I finished fifth. I was able to pay him back and since then Ive been in pretty good shape. More than good shape.
Indeed, Couch finds himself on top again with his recent success at the Cialis Western Open, where he held the 36-hole lead and won almost as much money with that tournament and his LaSalle Bank Open win combined, than he did all last year. He is now poised to take back the No. 1 spot on the Nationwide Tour money list and with one more win, a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour.
Now 6 feet 4 inches and 225 pounds, Couch has the athletic demeanor of a star baseball pitcher and an easy confidence. He feels hes more ready than ever to play at the PGA Tour level, and is now a better player than hes ever been.
A lot of it has to do with attitude change, says Couch. Ive been working on focus, relaxation, breathing and being positive. A lot of it is mental, being out there with all the oohs and aahs. Hes also been working on his swing by carefully studying the swings of Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam and his old nemesis, Tiger Woods. Els has the same type of body as me, the same position at the ball, I try to get close to his swing. says Couch.
And its been hard to miss the wacky cross-handed grip he whipped out at the John Deere Classic last July. Couch says that he was hitting it so bad inside 80 yards and out of the bunker that his coach had him try the cross-hand as a drill to hit shallow through the ball. It stuck.
The hardest part about it is not worrying about what people think, says Couch, They make a lot of comments that I must be nervous or something. But Im not worrying about those comments, it works for me.
Youve got to have a lot of guts to throw that in play, confirms Jeff Gove, whos also bounced back and forth from the PGA Tour to the Nationwide Tour, His game has really improved, hes also been using the long putter and its worked for him really well.
Fellow Nationwide Tour player Scott Peterson, whos played with Couch for five years, says hes not surprised about Couchs performance. I think whats a bigger shock is that he hasnt done better on the PGA tour, says Peterson. Theres a misconception about Chris that he doesnt take it seriously, but hes all business on the golf course.
Above all, Couch is a competitor. Im very fierce. I definitely want to beat everybody and win. But at the same time, I want to be nice, laughs Couch, But I want to be a lion and attack, he quickly adds.
Couch has the utmost respect for his toughest competitor Troy Matteson (Read - Matteson Calculating His Way to the PGA Tour) who stole the top spot on the money list from him last week when Couch was at the Cialis Western Open. Hes played the most consistent of anyone on tour, says Couch. My hats off to him. I hope we have a fun chase this year.
After all, this fierce lion has his priorities in order. His favorite thing is to play with his two kids, Christian and Cayden, who travel with him to many of his tournaments. Asked if hes going to push them to play golf, he replies, If they want to, its great, but golf is a frustrating game. There is no one to rely on but yourself, mentally and physically.
'It would be easier just to be a doctor, he smiles.

Related Links:
Chris Couch's Bio
Full Coverage - National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.