Should Couples be in the Hall of Fame?

By Randall MellJuly 31, 2012, 3:40 pm

Fred Couples' recent victory in the Senior Open Championship was a reminder of his talent, but is he Hall of Fame worthy? Couples has been on the ballot since 2005 and last year garnered 38 percent of the vote, with 65 percent needed for outright inclusion. Our writers weigh in.

BY RANDALL MELL

Fred Couples has enjoyed a wonderful career, but it falls short of being Hall of Fame caliber.

Somebody hand me a helmet and a shield, because Couples is so beloved that his legion of followers will have their ire up over that assessment. Given how dynamic Couples is as a personality, how much fun he is to watch, I may have to slap myself, but . . .

Hall of Fame scrutiny is necessarily harsh, brutally probing.

While Couples has been good for the sport, there’s an undeniable sense that he underachieved on the game’s grandest stages. That’s tough to say, but it has to be said in scrutinizing his career for the Hall of Fame.

Major championships are the primary measure of golf greatness. Couples won a single major, the 1992 Masters. Through his prime, there was a strong sense he was too talented to win just a single major.

That shouldn’t ultimately define Couples’ career, he achieved so much with his 15 PGA Tour titles, his No. 1 world ranking, his contributions to the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Very few pros wouldn’t trade their careers for his, but Hall of Famers wouldn’t be among them, shouldn’t be among them. The Hall of Fame should be reserved for the spectacular, the very best of the best who went above and beyond.

Yes, there are players with fewer than two majors in the Hall of Fame, but those decisions are still debated. This isn’t to say failing to win more than a single major should prevent Hall of Fame membership. There’s always the bigger picture, with larger historic contributions favorably tipping the scale. Ken Venturi is a case in point. As an amateur and a pro, he was a part of so much history, even in his major losses. And as a broadcaster for 35 years, Venturi significantly shaped how more than one generation of golf fans came to understand the game and its characters.

Couples needs that extra bit of something larger to push him over the top. With his Senior British Open title Sunday, he earned a spot in the British Open next year. If he somehow makes history winning that one, well, it’s a spectacular exclamation point to his career. Now that would take him over the top of the Hall of Fame wall.


BY REX HOGGARD

Give Fred Couples a locker in St. Augustine, Fla., complete with an unused cell phone and an X-ray of his oft-ailing back but not because of what he did last week at Turnberry.

No, Couples’ spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame should have been locked up long ago, his Senior British Open moment was just a bonus. The problem for some HOF voters, however, is that Boom Boom’s numbers don’t add up.

These dogmatic voters will tell you that Couples’ 15 PGA Tour titles, one major (1992 Masters) and two Players victories fall short of what is considered a traditional Hall of Fame resume.

The problem with that kind of strict adherence to an unwritten code is that it ignores everything else a player did for the game.

In Couples’ case that’s a 2-0 record as the U.S. Presidents Cup captain, complete with a third go looming in 2013, 16 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player and a level of popularity that few have enjoyed.

Much like Colin Montgomerie, whose impact on golf in Europe could never be overstated, Couples is caught in the Hall number crunch. Hall of Fame careers, however, do not always go by the numbers.


BY JASON SOBEL

I was honored to become a World Golf Hall of Fame voter for the first time this year. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously, which is only one reason that when the ballots were released, I quickly scanned the electronic form for Fred Couples’ name and clicked the appropriate box right away.

There’s always been a stigma surrounding Boom Boom as one of the game’s ultimate underachievers, a man with a million-dollar swing who never got enough out of it. That’s absurd. In fact, I look at him in much the opposite way: Here’s a guy who dealt with major injury issues to his back throughout his entire career and was still able to claim 15 titles, including a Masters and two Players Championships.

Throw in the extraneous, non-statistic-driven miscellany – he’s captained two Presidents Cup teams and will preside over at least one more; he’s nearly dominated the Champions Tour ever since becoming eligible; he’s been an icon and fan favorite for more than two decades – and it’s obvious to me that Couples is well deserving. And yes, the miscellany should matter when factoring a player for the Hall of Fame.

Even those who look only at the stats, though, should have trouble denying Freddie. Once upon a time, golfers needed, oh, about 20 career victories and a few major championships to be considered for the HOF. That time is no longer. In recent years, it’s become more difficult to win on the game’s most elite level. Those numbers should be scaled back to account for the increased difficulty, with 15 wins and one major being a more reasonable barometer.

Couples owns those credentials, plus every intangible in the book. Put him in the Hall already. I know I did.


By JAY COFFIN

Fred Couples is the coolest cat in golf, has been for 30 years. But he's not a Hall of Famer.

This is a sheer numbers game. Boom Boom has 15 career PGA Tour victories, one major championship (1992 Masters) and two Players Championships, which will be considered more than they should.

Once we start considering players who have only won 15 times we're in jeopardy of watering down the Hall. Corey Pavin has 15 victories and a major, Mark O'Meara has 16 victories and two majors. Neither are in the Hall of Fame and are likely to stay that way. Jim Furyk has 16 PGA Tour victories and one major championship and is not considered to be a Hall of Fame candidate, which is why his U.S. Open hiccup last month at The Olympic Club stung a little more.

Couples' good buddy Davis Love III has 20 PGA Tour victories, one major and a two Players Championships, which is by most accounts a better career than Couples. His name doesn't roll off the tongue when talking about those who deserve entrance into the Hall. Lanny Wadkins won 21 times on the PGA Tour and collected one major, yet waited more than a decade to earn the nod.

I realize that numbers don't tell the entire story. Couples has been nothing but a success as a Presidents Cup captain and was the No. 1-ranked player in the world during the Greg Norman, Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman era. Those all account for something. But it's still not enough.

Couples will get into the Hall of Fame because he'll earn enough cool points to give him the honor. His career on the golf course alone should not be enough to get him there.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''