Freddy Unplugged Life Is a Breeze

By George WhiteNovember 17, 2005, 5:00 pm
Hes the guy the older women all want to mother, all the younger ones want to marry. Can it really be that Freddy Couples is 46 now? He still has that look of being forever young, that manner of being forever charming.
Fred finished 38th on this years money list, and thats a marked improvement over six of the last seven years. It was only in 2002 when he finished 103rd, 2001 when he finished down at 131st. But even in those lean years he was definitely a fan favorite.
Fred Couples
Fred Couples continues to be a fan favorite on the PGA Tour.
Its fun, its enjoyable, and I always say, its a lot more fun playing mediocre golf in front of a couple of thousand people than playing really good golf in front of 30 people. So ' I mean ' were lucky, Couples said last week while he was playing at the Franklin-Templeton Shootout.
He was among the two or three best golfers on the planet in the early 90s, you know. But then came the back problem, that fateful day on the driving range at Doral in 1994 when he heard something snap like a pretzel. Hes never been the same golfer since, though he certainly has teetered on the spectacular at various times. But hes learned humility, hes learned to accept reality, and hes learned that all the fame is only one split second from being gone in an instant. And fame, he definitely knows, is a fleeting thing.
I never, ever looked at going to the course and hoping people were going to come out and feel thrilled that I was going to be there, Freddy says. People always say it ' and Im not taking it for granted, its just there.
They want to come see people they can relate to, or see people do special things. John Daly hits the ball 350 yards, so they love him. Hes a little different than most of the other players. But the ones that stand out ' I dont think he can really give you an answer. Its just, hes a hell of a golfer, hes young, and he handles himself very well, and hell do it forever. Hes not gonna change. So, as long as he stays healthy, itll be the same for him.
And thats how I always look at it ' like Greg Norman, whom I have a lot of respect for; Jay Haas, whos still playing well. But Jay doesnt get the backing that Greg Norman does, because Jay is not Greg Norman. Greg is HUGE. And people will come see him just to play nine holes.
People will come to see Fred Couples play nine, too. How many wins has he forfeited because he was not able to play regularly? What toll has the back ' which by now has become so stiff and arthritic ' taken on his career? He has learned to listen carefully to what his body is telling him, but he is extremely fortunate that he long ago chose golf for a career and not baseball, which he might have chosen.
Yeah ' golf is a great game, and if I were a baseball player and hurt my back and missed 20 or 30 games, it would be a struggle, he conceded.
You know, youve got to come back and do a lot of things. It could be a lot worse ' I could have a bad wrist, you know. I could have operations of the hip, the knee ' all those things, and really get away from the game. But I think in golf ' were able to pick and choose. You know, I missed the 94 Masters because of my back. I missed the British Open last year and the PGA. Those are things you really dont want to miss ' but it happens.
I never get down and worry about it because, up until the time it happens, Ive been able to come back and play golf; sometimes not really that well, but Im still able to play.
Actually, his back is somewhat improved over what it was 10 years ago. I think by playing a little bit more, its actually helping, he says. And not going home for three weeks and trying to let it rest, and then come out and practice. So Im trying to play a little more ' this year I did ' for a couple of reasons: when I did do that, I felt great.
Freddy has evolved and matured so much over the last decade. He's married and has two step-children. Life could hardly be better.
But at times in the past, he was short with the fans, withdrawn at times with the media. He was just a down-home guy who was thrust into the world No. 1 position. He had a difficult time accepting the high price tag that came with incredible success.
By doing well, he ventured, youve got to go and talk to the media and tell about your round. Where youre vacationing. And what kind of car you own.
Im not some kind of freak that doesnt want to tell people stuff. But its more to do ' hopefully next year I can play much better than I have.
And though he has an easy, relaxed air about him now, he says the constant attention in those days was oppressive at times. What I enjoyed most about golf back then was playing on Sunday with the Normans and the Elses and the Davises and, you know, Vijays and all that.'
Get ready to see more of Fred Couples. He may be 46, he may have a faulty back, but he again has goals. And those goals can only be reached if he plays more. That means teeing it up more often.
I am, Freddy declares. Im going to do everything I can to make the Ryder Cup team. Definitely have to play more to make that team, and thats definitely my goal.
So, my goal is not to come out and say Im going to win and all that, but Im going to play more and see what happens.
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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.