Couples still hanging around golfs youngsters

By Associated PressDecember 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. ' In an elite field at the Chevron World Challenge, which is loaded with players from the top 50 in the world ranking, Fred Couples can claim he belongs because of his age.
 
Hes still only 49.
 
The oldest player at Sherwood Country Club, whose world ranking has fallen to No. 175, the ageless Couples continues to hang around some guys half his age. Even with a mud-ball bogey on the final hole Friday, he had a 3-under 69 to finish three shots behind Jim Furyk and keep in the mix going into the weekend of Tiger Woods event.
 
I can hang around anybody, Couples said. Playing well is a shock.
 
Some might consider Furyks play to be surprising, given his lack of competition. Taking a break from his four-month vacation, Furyk wasnt nearly as crisp but didnt make any mistakes until the final hole on his way to a 71.
 
Furyk was at 5-under 139, two shots clear of Anthony Kim (70), Camilo Villegas (67) and K.J. Choi (71). Couples and Steve Stricker (71) were another shot behind.
 
I hung in there today, Furyk said. Thats the best I can say.
 
Couples has been doing that longer than most. He was a PGA Tour rookie the year before Villegas was born, and he won the first of his 15 tour titles two years before Kim showed up on earth.
 
Couples was No. 1 in the world until his career was slowed dramatically by back problems, and it got so bad last year that he managed to play only three times. Through it all, his raw talent has kept him in the picture.
 
Even playing only 18 times this year, he nearly made $1 million and easily kept his card.
 
I wouldnt consider myself to be a threat too much anymore, Couples said. But I know I can go around this course because of old habit, and Ive played here and I like the course. So that certainly helps me.
 
If there is such a thing as pressure in the silly season, this is it.
 
Woods lobbied to get official world ranking points for his Chevron World Challenge, but he had to make concessions. Starting next year, the sponsor exemptions must be ranked inside the top 50.
 
Ive played so many times on a sponsors exemption, and Tiger came up the other day and he said, Ive got to tell you something, Couples said. I go, Oh my God, what did I do wrong? He said, You cannot play my tournament next year unless youre in the top 50.
 
What am I, 400th right now?
 
With Couples, its never as bad as it seems it should be.
 
He zipped along still soggy Sherwood with an approach to a foot on the fourth, a two-putt birdie on the fifth, a 5-foot birdie on the difficult ninth hole and was climbing the leaderboard until he found a splotch of mud on his ball at the 18th. It squirted to the right, losing velocity along the way, and he was lucky to escape with bogey.
 
For all the free money being handed out this week from the $5.75 million purse, there was still some grumbling.
 
Villegas got into an animated discussion with a rules official Thursday after getting mud on his ball, and he still coped with it Friday even as he fired off three straight birdies, lost his momentum, then put it back in gear with an approach to 8 feet for an eagle on the par-5 11th. He wound up with the lowest score this week, but was still perplexed by the decision to play the ball down.
 
I dont really get what were trying to prove here, Villegas said. I mean, its 16 guys, the end of the year. Its a fun tournament. Youre trying to show them some good shots, some birdies, and sometimes they dont understand when we hit it 50, 60 yards off target. And its just because of the mud.
 
So what was the difference between a 74 and a 67?
 
I was able to judge a little bit better, he said.
 
The good news for Furyk is that he finally made a birdie on a par 5' Sherwood has five of them. It came on the 16th hole, which he reached in two and lagged nicely to tap-in range to reach 6 under.
 
It only took me 10 tries, he said.
 
His lone bogey came with a pulled 5-iron into a bunker, leaving him a lot of green but a long distance away. He blasted out to a ridge that fed the ball 10 feet by the hole, but he missed the par putt.
 
The only complaint Couples has had this week was getting tested for drugs for the first time this year. He was notified after his round Thursday, and having relieved himself on the 14th hole, it took him two hours to complete the test.
 
I told him I thought at that age it wasnt an issue, Furyk said. But I guess it was.
 

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  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.