Couch Takes Comfy Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 1, 2003, 5:00 pm
PRATTVILLE, Ala. -- Chris Couch fashioned a 7-under 65 on Saturday to open a four-shot lead at the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship. Couch finished 54 holes at 18-under-par 198 in search of his second victory of the year.
 
Tjaart Van der Walt fired a 65 of his own to finish alone in second place at 14-under-par 202. Ken Duke, who played alongside Couch on Saturday, was one shot further back at 13-under-par 203.
 
Couch had already put together two solid rounds on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill before taking control of the tournament on Saturday.
 
He ran off back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 third but found trouble with a bogey at the fifth. Couch recovered with a birdie at the seventh and rolled in a six-foot putt for a birdie at the eighth.
 
At the par-5 10th, Couch hit a stellar second shot that stopped within inches of the cup. He tapped in for the eagle to reach 16 under.
 
'That might be the best shot of my life,' said Couch. 'When it was in the air I thought it was going in. I don't think I've ever hit a shot that high before.'
 
Couch stumbled with a bogey at the 12th but countered at the par-4 14th and his approach dropped inside 12 feet for a birdie. Couch kept on rolling and knocked his second shot to five feet for a birdie at the very next hole.
 
The 30-year-old two-putted for a birdie at the par-5 17th to cap the dominating performance.
 
'I told my coach earlier this week that this is the best I've ever swung it,' said Couch, who has already secured his PGA Tour card for 2004. 'I'm striking the ball really well and making putts. But I never imagined it would be 18 under par after three rounds. I just want to stay focused for 18 holes tomorrow.'
 
Van der Walt is in a slightly different position than Couch. The South African is currently 25th on the money list, but a strong finish on Sunday would be enough to move him into the top 20 and grant him an exemption on the PGA Tour.
 
He collected three birdies and a bogey on the front side before coming on strong down the stretch.
 
Van der Walt tallied two straight birdies from the 14th and dropped his second shot inside six feet en route to an eagle at the par-5 17th.
 
At the par-4 last, Van der Walt drained a long birdie putt to finish four shots off the pace.
 
'The putts I've been missing I made up for on the last few holes,' said Van der Walt. 'I didn't even look at the board so I don't know where I'm at. But I do know I played well today.'
 
Wes Short posted a 5-under 67 to join D.J. Brigman in a tie for fourth at 11-under-par 205. Nationwide Tour money leader Zach Johnson was one shot further back at 10-under-par 206 along with Jason Bohn, Daniel Chopra and Chris Tidland.
 
Jess Daley and Doug LaBelle II shared 10th place at 9-under-par 207.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.