Couch Gets Shot at Battlefield Promotion

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
The Nationwide Tour heads south this week from Chicago and into the hills of Tennessee for the 16th edition of the Knoxville Open.
One of the original events on what was the Ben Hogan Tour back in 1990, the tournament will be played for the seventh straight year at the Fox Den Country Club, which ranked as the 24th toughest course on tour in 2004.
Headlining the field will be Chris Couch, who won his second tour event of the year at last week's LaSalle Bank Open and will most assuredly be eyeing the PGA Tour's coveted Battlefield Promotion when he tees it up this week.
The Battlefield Promotion, implemented in 1997, grants immediate access to the PGA Tour for any Nationwide Tour player who racks up three wins in a season.
In the eight years since the promotion has been in effect, only six players have achieved the award, beginning with Chris Smith in 1997. The others are Heath Slocum, Chad Campbell and Pat Bates in 2001, Patrick Moore in 2002 and Tom Carter in 2003.
After the award was given out three straight years from 2001 to 2003, no one on tour last year reached the magic numbers of three wins, although there were quite of few contenders.
Jimmy Walker, who would eventually be named the tour's player of the year, took just four tournaments in 2004 to notch his second victory of the year. He then went winless the rest of the season, though coming close on several occasions, including a pair of runner-ups finishes late in the year.
Kevin Stadler, son of PGA Tour player Craig Stadler, also reached the two win plateau in 2004, as did D.A. points and Charles Warren.
Couch, who took home his second trophy in just the 12th event of the season, hopes a third victory will give him yet another shot at success on the PGA Tour.
After winning the Nationwide Tour Championship in 2003 and finishing fourth on the tour's money list, Couch graduated for the second time to the PGA Tour. A tie for 10th at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic last October, however, was the highlight of the year as he placed a disappointing 217th on the final money list and lost his card.
With his victory at the LaSalle Bank Open, Couch brought his total of wins on the Nationwide Tour to five, placing him in a tie for third all-time, one win shy of Sean Murphy and Matt Gogel, both of whom own six career wins.
The victory at the LaSalle Bank Open pushed Couch's winnings in 2005 to $275,995. It also vaulted Couch past Troy Matteson on the money list by some $22,000.
Also in the field this week is Big Break II winner Kip Henley, who is playing in the fourth of his six Nationwide Tour exemptions.
With just three events left on his schedule, Henley is going to need quite a run if he has any hopes of making it full time on the tour. Last week, Henley's rounds of 74-73 left him five back of the cut line. It was the third straight cut for the 44-year-old Tennessee native.
The purse in Knoxville is $475,000 with $85,500 going to the winner.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Knoxville Classic
  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.