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Skins Game Not What it Used To Be

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Do people watch the Skins Game for the competition? Do they watch it for the entertainment? Do they even watch it at all anymore?
 
We'll find out a lot this weekend as defending champion Fred Couples, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie compete in the 18th annual Skins Game at the Landmark Golf Club in Indian Wells, Calif.
 
Couples is the official king of the second (or silly) season. He's earned that title primarily from his performances at past Skins Games. This will be Couples' eighth Skins start. He's played in every competition since 1992, save for '97. In that time span, Couples has won 52 skins, nearly twice as many as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller, who are tied for second on that list with 27. Couples has also won $1,975,000 in earnings, over $1 million more than Mark O'Meara, who ranks second.
 
This will be the first Skins appearance for both Montgomerie and Singh, who lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods Wednesday at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. Garcia made his debut last year, earning a pair of skins and $120,000.
 
The Skins Game was established in 1983, with Nicklaus, Watson, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player participating. The event has long thrived on big-money putts and radiant personalities. Both will be put to the test this week.
 
Garcia is among the PGA Tour leaders in charisma. Couples is one of the biggest fan favorites in golf history. But Montgomerie and Singh, despite their immense talents, are far removed from either category.
 
This year, $1 million is up for grabs. The first six holes are worth $25,000 each; Nos. 7-12 are worth $50,000; Nos. 13-17 are worth $70,000; and No. 18 is worth $200,000. If the final hole is not won, a playoff will commence until someone cleans the pot.
 
Couples set a Skins Game record with $635,000 in winnings a year ago. The bulk of that came from a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th worth $410,000.
 
Remember when that used to seem like a lot of money to a professional golfer?
 
With the ever-increasing purses around the world, $1 million seems more like a winner's check than the total purse.
 
Talented players lacking an over-abundance of personality. Big putts lacking monetary shock value. The Skins Game isn't what it used to be. What happens this weekend could go a long way in determining what it will become.