Couples Finds Relaxing the Key in Skins

By Golf Channel NewsroomNovember 22, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Merrill Lynch Skins GameFred Couples has the Skins Game thing figured out. The king of the off-season ' hes won more money in the Merrill Lynch Skins Game than anyone ' says the key to the whole concept is being able to relax and enjoy yourself.
 
Thats the secret, he says, as Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, Fred Funk and himself prepare to tee it up in the Palm Springs area Saturday and Sunday.
 
Fred Couples and Tiger Woods
Fred Couples has won over $3.5 million in his Skins Game career.
In golf, you have to be able to laugh and giggle at yourself, said Couples. And I'm able to do that - especially in the Skins Game - because it is a made-for-TV, it is fun, and you're playing with three other people.
 
And you have to be able to hit some quality shots at different times and make putts, which I think we're all capable of doing. And then there's luck involved, and I've been very lucky in a lot of these Skins Game.
 
Couples won last year when he overcame Woods for the final skin. That came on the fourth extra hole ' the 17th ' as Woods found the water and Couples made par. Freddie has won a record $3,515,000 and 77 skins in 11 appearances in the made-for-TV tournament. He has been first or second in the event eight times, going back to 1992.
 
I just go, he said, and I certainly always look forward to playing with Tiger. And of course Annika is one of my really all-time favorite lady players and she's such a doll and she's fun to be around. And of course Fred Funk is a chicken hawk - he's just a great guy.
 
'So again, for me, I can't wait.
 
Sorenstam agreed.
 
For me to be a part of this event, it's pretty cool, she said. I mean, I never really thought I could get invited in the first place, and now I'm going to return for the third year. So I'm excited about that.
 
I love playing with the guys. The Skins format is all-or-nothing, and every hole is like a new match. And for me to have won a few Skins, obviously, has given me some confidence that maybe I can do it again. We have some really great players this year- I mean, Freddie, who everybody loves, and then Tiger, who everybody loves watching, and then Fred Funk and me.
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.