What we learned: Couples, Gulbis back?


Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned that Fred Couples isn't done winning tournaments and that the Olympic Games' opening ceremonies have golfers fired up for the inclusion of their game in four years. 

Fred Couples has a shot at breaking a couple of long-standing PGA Tour records. After watching him win the Senior Open Championship, I could envision him winning another Tour event and even a major championship. A second career major would have to come at Augusta, and a 16th Tour title likely in Houston or at Riviera, but the possibilities remain. Couples turns 53 in October, which would make him the oldest player to win on Tour (Sam Snead – 52 years, 10 months, 8 days) and to win a major (Julius Boros, 48). Both are long shots, but I didn't think he could win an event in the U.K., so I'm not counting him out. – Mercer Baggs

Natalie Gulbis is back. By finishing T-4 at the Evian Masters, Gulbis logged her best LPGA finish since the 2007 ADT Championship. 

One high finish a season does not complete a comeback, but this is Gulbis' third top-10 effort in 2012. She had three combined from 2008-2011 and none in the last two seasons. Now healthy and not having to fight a chronic back injury as she has since 2010, she seems poised to become a household name – for golf. – Ryan Ballengee

News of golf being included in the 2016 Olympic Games and all of the subsequent talk about it likely didn’t get the world’s elite golfers as fired up about the possibility of competing in four years as anything that happened this week. Until now, the thought of golf in the Olympics has been more theory and less reality. This week was the first time since the IOC decided to include the sport that professional golfers could watch the opening ceremonies and actually picture themselves walking into the host stadium representing their country. There’s no doubt that some who were previously agnostic about the idea witnessed the scene and got goosebumps thinking about being in Rio de Janeiro four years from now. That scene helped turn the theory of competing into a stark reality. – Jason Sobel

For all the long- and belly-putter bluster we’ve heard the last few days it was still a player wielding a standard-length model (Scott Piercy) who emerged from the pack at the Canadian Open. In fact, of the half-dozen players with a chance to win on Sunday at Hamilton Golf & Country Club only Robert Garrigus (T-2) was using a long putter. The long putter may be destined for extinction, but it is not the ultimate fix some have tried to make it out to be. – Rex Hoggard

Dominant becomes vulnerable almost overnight in this crazy game.

It literally occurred overnight in the case of Tiger Woods, who is making his way back to the top of the game with sure-footed steps of late after that sharp detour into a neighbor’s yard three years ago. So maybe this is just re-learning that lesson with Yani Tseng amid her first real struggles since she gained the Rolex No. 1 ranking 76 weeks ago. In the case of Tseng, it only seems like her struggles have come overnight. They actually have stretched for six or seven weeks now. Back in the spring, Tseng was rolling with three victories in her first five LPGA starts of the year. Going into April, she had racked up 15 worldwide titles in 15 months.

When Tseng missed the cut at the Evian Masters this week, it was her second MC in three starts. That doesn’t seem like much, but missed cuts sting more in the women’s game. It’s just not as deep as the men’s game. Paula Creamer’s missed one cut in the past two seasons; same with Na Yeon Choi. Karrie Webb has missed one cut in the last three seasons; same with Suzann Pettersen.

Tseng is 36 over par in her last 13 LPGA rounds. She's off her normal game, and it may very well prove a minor blip in her run at the LPGA record books, but it's there, hovering as a growing storyline over this LPGA summer. Tseng’s record the past two seasons remains dominant, even as her form makes her look vulnerable. – Randall Mell