Couples relishing chance to win in hometown

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2014, 12:26 am

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. – It will remain a sore spot with Fred Couples until he's finally able to add the accomplishment to his resume.

For all the tournament's won during his career, Couples has still never won in the Seattle area, where he grew up.

Not that he's had many chances. With Seattle lacking a regular PGA Tour stop the most marquee events that Couples has participated were the 1998 PGA Championship and 2010 U.S. Senior Open, along with being a regular participant in the Boeing Classic since joining the Champions Tour in 2010.

Couples is back at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge this week trying to win that elusive hometown title in the 10th edition of the popular tournament.

''It's really one of my favorite courses and not just because I'm from here, but it's for a longer hitter,'' Couples said. ''It's always in immaculate condition. The greens are perfect, the fairways are perfect. You get a good amount of people out there to watch.''

He's come close to breaking through in his hometown in the past. Three times Couples has finished in the top three of events around Seattle. That included his runner-up finish to Bernhard Langer at the 2010 Senior Open played at nearby Sahalee Country Club. Last year Couples closed with a 66 on the final day of the Boeing Classic but was unable to catch John Riegger and finished third.

''For me personally, my first senior tour event was at Sahalee and I lost to Langer. It wasn't the end of all ends, but I was trying to win hard and this is a tournament that I really would love to win,'' Couples said. ''I probably don't have that many more chances, maybe another two or three years before I get too old to totally compete, but that is my goal.''

Although unlikely, Couples is hoping to give himself two chances to win in his home state in 2015. Couples said he plans on trying to qualify for the U.S. Open being played at Chambers Bay if he does not receive an exemption for the tournament.

Couples and Langer will be paired together for the first round on Friday. It will be just the second Champions Tour start for Couples since May, slowed by continued back problems. His only victory this season came at the Toshiba Classic in March.

Meanwhile, Langer is the clear leader in the Charles Schwab Cup points race. He's won five times this season, including last week's victory at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. He's finished first, second and first in his last three starts and nearly caught Kenny Perry on the final day of the 3M Championship to make it three consecutive victories.

Also participating in the Boeing Classic for the first time will be Kevin Sutherland fresh off shooting the first 59 in Champions Tour history in last week's tournament. Sutherland, who bogeyed the 18th or he could have posted a 58, will be paired with Paul Goydos and Chip Beck. Both Goydos and Beck shot 59s in their careers on the PGA Tour. 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm