After 18 years Couch gets Bay Hill moment

By Associated PressMarch 30, 2010, 12:46 am

Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO, Fla. – Those 18 years Chris Couch wrote Arnold Palmer asking for an exemption at Bay Hill only to be denied came flashing back to him Monday.

Merely playing in the final pairing showed how far he’d come. Having Palmer watch him on the 18th green added to the satisfaction.

Even though Couch was three shots behind winner Ernie Els in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he couldn’t have been happier finishing tied for fourth.

“I think that I was a little bit inspired by not getting an exemption all those years,” Couch said. “I wanted to prove to Arnie that I love this golf course and that I play well out here.”

Maybe he won’t have to wait so long again.

The 36-year-old who lives in the Orlando area had plenty of highlights at Bay Hill. He hit perhaps the most remarkable – or unremarkable, depending on the perspective – shot of the week.

He knocked the ball off the rocks near the water on his approach to the 18th on Friday, skipping three times on the edges to narrowly miss the water and land on the green to save par. That got him into the final grouping, where he started three shots back Monday after thunderstorms postponed the final round.

Couch, whose only victory came in New Orleans in 2006, ended the tournament at 8 under. He won $264,000 with the finish, tipping his hat to Palmer walking off the green.

It was a moment Couch won’t soon forget.

“Maybe in the future if I need an exemption, that will look good on there,” Couch said. “I know Arnie will make the right decision, he’s a good guy. I hold nothing against him. I was just inspired to play well and prove to him I’m a great player and that I deserve to be out here.”

NA HAPPENING: Kevin Na sank the putt for bogey on the final hole, flung the ball into the water and watched it sink.

Just like his chances at Bay Hill.

After driving into the rough on the 18th, laying up and missing an 8-foot putt for par, he knew he had no shot to chase down Ernie Els.

“I’m going to break the door down one of these weeks,” said Na, who finished two shots back at 9 under for the tournament. “I’ve got metal, going to leave a mark, too.”

Na had his chances.

His 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th appeared perfect. Na started to raise his putter in triumph only to watch the ball stop 5 inches short, buckling his knees in stunned belief. He also missed a 58-footer for eagle on the 16th, where he started the day after thunderstorms postponed the final round.

But even after he drove way right into the rough on No. 18, he managed to layup and then knock it to within 14 feet for par. That would come up short.

This time by 2 inches.

“I just can’t believe I didn’t – that was a shocker it came up short,” he said. “I hit it and I was like, ‘Oh, no, it’s too soft.”’
Edoardo Molinari was a big winner Monday, even though he finished tied for second behind Ernie Els.

Molinari won $528,000 for finishing second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, giving him $778,777 for the year. Because that’s more than 150th on last year’s money list, he can become a special temporary member and receive unlimited exemptions on the PGA Tour the rest of the year.

If his earnings are at least equal to whoever finishes 125th on the money list in 2010, he can join the PGA Tour next year.

But the Italian still hasn’t decided if he would play full-time on the PGA Tour.

“I have to think about it, because last year I was playing the Challenge Tour, so this never entered my mind,” he said. “I like it over here. I think the weather is better and the courses are better. I’ll think about it.”
Retief Goosen had to wait a day to play one hole.

Then he had to wait again.

After thunderstorms postponed the final round, Goosen showed up Monday two hours before his scheduled 10 a.m. tee time only to learn it had been pushed back another two hours. So he sat around, watched TV and called friends back home in South Africa.

Nobody was asking about him.

“They all wanted to know about Ernie,” he said, chuckling.

Goosen made par on the 18th on Monday to finish 8 under and tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he was happy to see that another South African took home the trophy.

Waiting so long to hit four shots was another story.

“It’s unfortunate. A lot of players felt yesterday they probably could have started an hour earlier,” Goosen said. “We started at 8:30, and it’s light at 7. We could have had it done.”

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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.