Notes Lucky bounces and a Tiger sighting

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2010, 3:13 am

Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO, Fla. – Chris Couch guesses he wrote to Arnold Palmer about 18 straight years asking for an exemption at Bay Hill – with no luck.

He finally caught a break Saturday.

Couch’s approach on the 18th from 152 yards out bounced not once, not twice, but three times off the rocks – narrowly missing the water – and skipped onto the green. He saved par and closed with a 3-under 69 in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, finishing 7 under for the tournament and three shots behind leader Ernie Els.

“I kept thinking, ‘Please, please, bounce on the green, baby, bounce on the green,”’ Couch said. “I’ve never considered myself a very lucky person on the golf course. But that was a great break at the right time.”

Couch has long waited for this chance.

A high school phenom who now lives in the Orlando area, Couch qualified for the 1990 Honda Classic at age 16 but missed the cut. He gained entry at Bay Hill this year because he was high enough in the FedExCup standings.

“I was very thrilled,” he said. “It was nice to get in, being a local. I have a lot of friends around that love to come out and watch and it was enjoyable having them out there today, and hearing their screams and yells and having my wife out there.”

Even being able to play this week could be considered an accomplishment.

Couch had to withdraw at the Transitions Championship last week with a right knee injury that prevented him from walking, even though he couldn’t figure out how it got hurt. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in 2007, and then he had an episode known as “frozen shoulder” in 2008 where he had no movement.

“A lot of rehab, a lot of prayers,” Couch said. “It’s been frustrating. “

So imagine the relief when the ball bounced on the green on 18. For Couch, it was merely another footnote to add in an up-and-down career.

“I don’t know if it will make ten worst or ten best,” he joked.

CHANCE MEETING: Brad Faxon played golf at Isleworth on Saturday morning and ran into Tiger Woods on the back of the range.

“I haven’t seen him since the accident and he hasn’t seen me,” Faxon, an NBC Sports analyst, said during the telecast. “I was as nervous to see him as anything. I walked out there and said, ‘Do you need a putting lesson?’ He started laughing.”

Faxon, an eight-time winner who played on two Ryder Cup teams, is regarded as one of the best putters in golf.

He said Woods was getting ready for the Masters and appeared on edge.

“And what I think he’s most nervous about is getting there on Monday in front of everybody who he hasn’t been in front of for a long time,” Faxon said. “I feel for him. It’s going to be hard for him that day. I have no problem believing that when he puts that peg in the ground on Thursday, he’ll be fine. But those first few days are going to be tough.”

GETTING THERE: There might not be a better example of how things have changed for Jim Furyk than his final hole Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Furyk hit a 6-iron from 192 yards out so far left that the ball bounced off the grandstands, ricocheted off a railing, redirected off a marshal’s hat and landed safely in low-lying rough for a much easier chip onto the green. He saved par, ended with a third-round 66 and signed the ball for the marshal on his way out.

“You get the one with the green mark on it,” Furyk said, smiling.

And why not?

After ending his longest stretch without a victory on the PGA Tour at last week’s Transitions Championship, Furyk is looking to make it two straight wins. He moved 5 under for the tournament and five shots behind leader Ernie Els.

Not bad for a guy who made the cut by one stroke a day earlier.1

“It’s a little bit of a hangover-type feeling after winning to kind of come back and mentally be prepared,” he said. “But I wouldn’t mind winning again.”

Furyk put himself in position to do so rather quickly.

He made up six strokes in seven holes early in his round when the greens were still moist from the low fog that blanketed Bay Hill before dawn. The run was highlighted with an eagle on No. 6 when he nailed a three wood from 242 yards out to within 33 feet, sinking the putt.

After going 32 months and 58 tournaments between PGA Tour wins until last week, Furyk wants to avoid repeating such a drought. He did capture the Chevron World Challenge in December at Sherwood against a world-class field, but his last win on the PGA Tour came in the 2007 Canadian Open.

With the Masters only two weeks away, Furyk feels his luck is starting to change just in time.

“I feel better than I have the last couple years,” he said. “I’m close. I’m not saying I’m ready, but I’m a lot closer than I’ve been for two or three years.”

ARNIE ADVICE: Arnold Palmer took to the television airwaves Saturday to deliver a similar message again to Tiger Woods as he prepares to make his return in two weeks at the Masters.

“My advice would be to open up to the media,” Palmer said while sharing the booth with NBC Sports’ Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller.

“To bring them in and talk to them, and talk to them like a man. That’s the only way you’re going to accomplish what he wants to accomplish right now. He needs to open the door, let them come in and talk to them like he knows them.”

Woods is missing Bay Hill – just around the corner from his Isleworth mansion – for the first time in his career. It had been the only regular PGA Tour event he played every year. Palmer has said he was disappointed Woods wasn’t playing.

DIVOTS: With rain and thunderstorms expected Sunday afternoon, the final round at Bay Hill will be played with threesomes starting on split tees at 8:30 a.m. Mostly cloudy skies with a high around 82 degrees is forecast before the rain pushes in. The tournament is expected to finish around 3:30 p.m., far earlier than when Tiger Woods won last year with a dramatic 12-foot birdie on the 18th under fading light and popping flashbulbs. … Phil Mickelson started Saturday one shot off the lead, but his third round 75 put him seven shots down entering the final round.

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What's in the bag: API winner McIlroy

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:59 pm

Rory McIlroy closed in 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft

Fairway woods: TaylorMade M3 (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX, (19 degrees) with Fujikura Rombax P95X shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4), P-730 RORS prototype (5-9), with Project X 7.0 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (48, 52, 56 degrees), Hi-Toe(60 degrees), with Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto prototype

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.