Couch Collects Second Nationwide Victory

By Sports NetworkJune 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
GLENVIEW, Ill. -- Chris Couch carded a 4-under 67 on Sunday to cruise to victory at the LaSalle Bank Open. He finished at 15-under-par 269 and won by four shots at The Glen Club.
Couch collected his second win of the season after capturing last month's Rheem Classic. This was his fifth win on the Nationwide Tour, which ties him for third on the all-time list.
Chris Couch
Chris Couch won his second tournament of the year at the LaSalle Bank Open.
But with the first-place prize of $135,000, the biggest in the United States this year on tour, Couch became the all-time leading money winner in Nationwide Tour history.
'I told Pat Bates I was coming after him this year. I knew he was leading and we're good buddies,' said Couch. 'I've been through a lot of ups and downs in my career. This is definitely one of the highs here.'
Kevin Durkin shot a 4-under 67 in the final round and tied for second with Mario Tiziani and Paul Gow, who both shot rounds of 3-under 68. The trio came in at 11-under-par 273.
Couch came into the final round with a two-shot lead and parred his first four holes. He broke into red figures with a 6-foot birdie putt at five and a 3-footer for birdie at six. Couch parred his final three holes on the front nine to take a three-shot lead to the back nine.
At the 10th, Couch hit a sand wedge 15 feet short of the hole. He sank the birdie putt, then parred his next two. Couch ran home a 5-foot birdie putt at the 13th to go four ahead, but when Gow bogeyed back-to-back holes from the 14th, Couch's margin was five.
Couch hit a terrible drive into the left rough at the 14th and was forced to pitch back into the fairway. His third landed on the back fringe and he missed the putt to bogey the hole for the second consecutive round.
Couch hit driver off the tee at the short, par-4 15th and came up just short of the putting surface. Using his cross-handed chipping grip, he pitched the ball inside 2 feet and tapped in for birdie.
That was all it took for Couch.
'I got off to a rough start on the first four holes when I hit it all over the ball park,' said Couch. 'I broke an 8-iron on the third hole. But I think those four holes set the pace for me. I found my swing and hit it good the rest of the way.'
If Couch can visit the winner's circle one more time this year on the Nationwide Tour, he will earn the immediate 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA Tour. Even if that doesn't happen, he has appeared to pocket enough money to already get to the big tour through his place on this year's money list.
'I definitely have some work to do on the PGA Tour,' said Couch, who gets a spot in the Western Open field on the PGA Tour with his win on Sunday. 'I have something to prove.'
Camilo Villegas (65) and Mathew Goggin (68) shared fifth place at 10-under-par 274, while Dicky Pride (66) and Steve LeBrun (70) tied for seventh at minus- 9.
Roger Tambellini (67), Mathias Gronberg (69), Brendon de Jonge (71) and Jon Mills tied for ninth at 8-under-par 276.
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.