Couch Pappas on Top at Monterrey Open

By Sports NetworkMarch 17, 2001, 5:00 pm
Chris Couch carded a 4-under 68 on Saturday to join Deane Pappas at the top of the Buy.Com Monterrey Open. The duo has a one-shot lead over Oscar Serna at 14-under-par 202.
Brenden Pappas, Tommy Biershenk, Mike Brisky, John Kernohan and overnight co-leader Tom Kalinowski are tied for fourth at minus 12.
Couch, the winner of last week's Florida Classic, opened with a birdie at the first but then carded three bogeys in a row from the second to drop him down the leaderboard. After rebounding with birdies at Nos. 5 and 7, he eagled the par-5 9th to go out in 2-under 34.
Couch posted two birdies in his first four holes on the back but bogeyed the 17th to drop from the lead. With Pappas in the clubhouse at 14-under, Couch two-putted from 30 feet for birdie at the par-5 closing hole to tie for the top spot.
'I just felt like today I didn't hit it quite as well as I have the last couple of days,' said Couch, who has had at least a share of the lead in each of the first three rounds. 'I hit a lot more stray shots and battled hard to shoot what I shot.'
Couch is looking to become the first player since 1997 to win back-to-back events on the Buy.Com Tour.
Pappas carded a 5-under 67 on Saturday for his portion of the lead. He bogeyed the third hole but quickly reclaimed the lost stroke with a birdie at the fourth. Pappas parred out on the front for a 36.
Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 10 and 11, along with another birdie at No. 13 moved Pappas near the top of the leaderboard. Knowing he needed an eagle at the final hole to get in the last group on Sunday, Pappas knocked his second shot to 18 feet and ran home the eagle effort to gain his position in the final pairing.
'I really wanted to make that putt to get into the final group tomorrow,' said Pappas, who captured the South African PGA Championship in February. 'I could have made a few more birdies on the back nine.'
Hometown favorite Serna, who birdied two of his last four holes for a 68 and sole possession of third, said he would be fine with playing in a high pressure situation in his home country.
'I'm not nervous,' he said. 'I am very hopeful for tomorrow.'
Kalinowski had a chance to stay in the lead for Sunday's final round, but bogeyed 18 to drop down to a tie for fourth.
John Wilson, Steve Haskins and Tim Petrovic round out the top-10 at minus 11.
Click here for full-field scores from the Buy.Com Monterrey Open
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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:43 pm

As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.

The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.

It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:

Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.

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Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:00 pm

Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.

Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:

He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:

Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:

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Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.

The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.

Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.

Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.

The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.

Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.

On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.

''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''

Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.

''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.

''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''

Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.