Notes Freddies Streak Beach Time for Clarke

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The streak began well before Fred Couples' hair began to gray and his back began to go.
 
To keep it going for a record-tying 23rd year, he needed an up-and-down from 15 feet. When he made it, he let out a big sigh of relief and heard the roar of fans who love spending this weekend with him.
 
'I'm looking forward to playing two more rounds here,' said Couples, the winner in 1992. 'The streak, I'd rather miss the cut five years ago and win last year. But to make it is great because I certainly had no vision (of playing). I played two rounds of golf this year.'
 
Couples finished at 8-over 152, right on the cut line. Because scores in the first and second rounds were so high, the 10-shot cut rule was in effect, meaning 60 players -- the most since 1993 -- will return for the weekend.
 
The 152 cut score was the highest since 1982.
 
'Scary, isn't it?' former champion Fuzzy Zoeller said when told he could make the cut for the first time since 1998.
 
Missing was Ernie Els, who failed to make a cut in a major for the first time since the 1999 PGA Championship. It also ended the longest active cut streak on tour at 46. Jim Furyk now has the longest active cut streak at 20.
 
Couples, 47, has struggled with a bad back for years, but never has it been worse than the last few months. His back went out during practice at Pebble Beach, and he spent the next three days in bed. When he arrived at Augusta, he hadn't played a competitive round in two months.
 
And he has no idea when his back might go again. He had an epidural after Pebble Beach, and will probably get another when he's done here. In the meantime, he puts up with throbbing pain that he likened to a toothache.
 
He stretches on every hole, doing trunk twists and back bends. When he bends over to fish a ball out of a cup or put a tee in the ground, he leans heavily on a club.
 
But the lack of playing time hurts his score more than the back, Couples said.
 
'I can almost play this course blindfolded. I can get it around, and I think that's what I did yesterday and today,' he said. '(But) I would say this course is a little too tough for me.'
 
That's sort of what the folks at Augusta National were thinking when they subtly suggested in 2002 that past champions should call it quits once they reached a certain age.
 
Based on this year's cut list, maybe they should be sending out more invitations.
 
Sandy Lyle, 49; Craig Stadler, 53; and Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw, both 55, all made it. Crenshaw is in for the second straight year after missing every cut since 1997, even after closing with three straight bogeys.
 
Tom Watson could have been there, too, if not for a bogey on 17 and a triple-bogey on the last hole. He missed by a measly stroke.
 
'It was all defense today,' Watson said. 'I let them kick a field goal and let them run all the way back for a touchdown.'
 
Fifteen players have one guy to thank for their extended stays at Augusta. Zach Johnson was 3 under through 15 holes, but he staggered home with three straight bogeys and the cut stayed at 8 over.
 
One of those who sneaked in is new daddy and Masters rookie Brett Quigley, who will be thrilled that an already long week will be a little longer.
 
Besides Els, Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie also went home early. For a second straight year, no amateurs made the cut. That means U.S. Amateur runner-up John Kelly won a sterling silver cup as the low amateur. Kelly shot a pair of 77s.
 
BIG TURNAROUND
Darren Clarke pulled his game together a little too late.
 
Even with bogeys on the last two holes, Clarke shot a 1-under 71 Friday -- a 12-stroke turnaround from the first round. But his 83 on Thursday put him 10 over for the tournament, two strokes above the cutline.
 
It's only the third time he's missed the cut in 10 trips to Augusta.
 
'Strangely enough, I didn't play that badly yesterday. Today I played just a little bit better,' he said. 'I had a lot of chances. Almost gave me a chance to make the cut there.
 
'Just a few things didn't go for me.'
 
Clarke made only one birdie and seven pars on Thursday to go with eight bogeys and two doubles. He made three birdies Friday but was bogey-free until those last two holes.
 
'I played really nice today, really nice,' he said. 'Yesterday was really disappointing. I didn't come here to do that. But I'm not the only one who's done that at Augusta.'
 
At least Clarke had a nice fallback plan.
 
'I'm back to the beach in the Bahamas,' Clarke said with a grin. 'Bye-bye.'
 
COUGAR PRIDE
Somebody alert the alumni association at Brigham Young University.
 
Dean Wilson and Mike Weir, teammates and roommates at BYU, are paired together for the third round of the Masters. The two are at 3-over 147, five strokes off the lead.
 
Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, and Wilson, who is playing his first Masters, posted identical 75-72s.
 
TOUGH HOLE
Stewart Cink doesn't need to look at the course statistics to tell you what the toughest hole is at Augusta.
 
The par-4 No. 1, without a doubt.
 
'You're always nervous, always anxious,' Cink said. 'That hole is just wicked. I think that green is the hardest out there.'
 
Not exactly. No. 1 was the ninth-toughest hole Friday, playing at 4.291 strokes. The par-4 11th was the hardest, at 4.593 strokes.
 
No. 1 did rank as the second-toughest hole Thursday.
 
'Part of that might have something to do with people puking,' Cink said, 'but it's a hard hole.'
 
DIVOTS
Steve Stricker, Bernhard Langer and amateur Richie Ramsay were the only players to not make a birdie in the first two rounds. None made the cut. ... Seve Ballesteros' return to the Masters was a short one. The two-time former champion, playing Augusta for the first time in four years, was last at 22-over 166. His score was so ugly it wasn't posted on the 18th green leaderboard.
 
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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm