Ames Tops Couples to Win Skins Game

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2006 LG Skins GameLA QUINTA, Calif. -- Stephen Ames made his Skins Game debut a memorable one.
 
The reigning Players Championship winner captured the third playoff hole Sunday to take the final two skins worth $270,000 and win the event with eight skins and $590,000.
 
Fred Couples, the all-time money leader in the Skins Game, came in second with nine skins and $385,000 in earnings. John Daly won the first skin on Saturday and took third with $25,000.
 
John Daly
John Daly had a chance to win some big money Sunday, but couldn't make any putts.
Defending champion Fred Funk was shut out at Trilogy Golf Club at La Quinta.
 
The Skins Game was not without its fun, much like Saturday when Funk switched Daly's ball with a remote control ball on the sixth green.
 
On Sunday, at the 11th, Funk took Daly's bag on the tee and served as his caddie. On 16, Funk and Daly, one of the shortest and longest hitters, respectively, both teed off at the same time.
 
Couples went into Sunday's second nine with the lead with six skins and $175,000. Daly had one skin worth the $25,000 and two skins carried over to Sunday.
 
Ames got into the score book first on Sunday, although several players squandered several chances early on the back nine.
 
At the 10th, Ames missed a 12-foot birdie putt right of the hole, which opened the door for Funk, who donned a skirt last year when Annika Sorenstam outdrove him on a hole. Funk's 10-footer for the win was pulled all the way and the quartet was off to 11 to play for $200,000.
 
Daly had the best chance at winning the hole at the par-3 11th, but his 12-footer lipped out of the hole on the left side. The short, par-4 12th was now worth $250,000.
 
Ames played second from the fairway and knocked his approach inside 2 feet. Daly hit his approach 18 feet past the hole, while Couples gave himself a 10-foot birdie look. Neither Daly nor Couples could find the bottom of the hole, and Ames tapped in for birdie and $250,000.
 
'I like those length,' joked Ames, referring to his short birdie putt at 12. 'I'm not shut out, I'm now leading.'
 
Ames continued to apply the pressure when he drained a 25-foot birdie putt at the 13th. Funk had a decent chance to force the carry-over, but missed from 15 feet. That left it up to Couples, but the former Masters champion was not up to the challenge. Couples' 10-footer stayed above ground, giving Ames another $70,000.
 
Couples soared back at the 15th after no one was able to capture the 14th hole. Couples won 15 with a seven-foot birdie putt and pocketed $140,000 to get to $315,000, which was only $5,000 back of Ames.
 
Couples moved ahead on No. 16 with an eagle putt to get to $385,000.
 
Ames halved Couples at the 17th hole, which was worth $70,000, then Couples failed to cash in on a 10-foot eagle try at the closing hole for $200,000 so the outcome was up in the air heading to the playoff.
 
All four birdied the first playoff hole, then Daly and Ames sank birdie putts in the 5-foot range at the second extra hole to eliminate Couples and Funk.
 
On the third playoff hole, No. 2 at Trilogy, Daly drove into a bunker and had no choice but to blast out back to the fairway with his second. Ames took advantage of the opportunity of Daly's miscue and knocked his approach inside four feet. Daly ended up with a bogey, but it hardly mattered as Ames converted his birdie putt for the title.
 
'We had a wonderful week,' said Ames.
 
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