Couples back home for US Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 29, 2010, 4:20 am

2010 U.S. Senior OpenSAMMAMISH, Wash. – Fred Couples arrived at the U.S. Senior Open this week as a tournament favorite and a hometown hero.

The Seattle native is trying for his first USGA title at any level, playing just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Seattle public course where he learned the game growing up.

He hasn’t lived in Seattle for decades. Yet the region still considers Couples its own.

“To win here, it would rank right up there as any other tournaments probably besides Augusta,” Couples said Wednesday. “This is just like a U.S. Open; no one’s going to tell me any differently. It’s very tough out there. So to win here would be, you know, like winning a U.S. Open. And I’m from Seattle, so I would think it would be a great, great accomplishment. It would be very special for me.” 

Fred Couples
Couples looks to win in his hometown's backyard this week at Sahalee. (Getty Images)
There was a gallery waiting and autographs to sign, a scenario that plays out during nearly every momentary break Couples gets at Sahalee Country Club.

“I’ve been signing more autographs than paying any attention to the golf course,” he said.

His presence represents a perfect confluence of timing and luck. If the PGA Championship had returned to Sahalee this year as originally planned after the tournament’s lone turn as PGA host a dozen years ago, Couples would be an outsider trying to wedge his way into playing in his hometown through a special exemption.

Instead, the PGA pulled out and the USGA moved in bringing the Senior Open, which begins Thursday. This will be Couples’ first turn at a U.S. Senior Open. He turned 50 in October and became an active Champions Tour member this year.

And Couples is more than the hometown favorite. He just might be the tournament favorite, having won three times already this year on the 50-and-over circuit and finishing second twice.

“I think the important thing to know when you’re playing at home is that everyone is pulling for you, hoping the best for you,” Tom Lehman said. “That energy that they have is pushing you in a really good direction. You don’t have to live up to a certain expectation because they want the best for you. That helps you.”

But it’s also a challenge in balancing commitments and expectations. Couples served as the honorary chairmen for the event, although his main duty was putting together a youth clinic on Tuesday. There are interview requests and old friends trying to pull Couples in many directions, not to mention the endless stream of memorabilia to autograph at seemingly every turn.

“This honorary chairman stuff is a little mind-boggling but it’s over on Sunday,” Couples said.

The question remains whether Couples will be in contention come Sunday. The towering trees framing the holes at Sahalee are forcing many to rethink their strategies. Drivers off the tee are being replaced by fairway woods. Long irons are often the choice into greens that some say are the firmest they’ve seen.

Tom Watson said the greens were firmer than this year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Fred Funk didn’t believe they were quite that hard. Couples simply noted he didn’t make a ball mark on any green during his Tuesday practice round.

“It’s not a golf course where you fire at the flags,” Watson said. “It’s more of a chess match where you get in position for your next shot, and that’s what makes Sahalee such a difficult course to play.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.