Couch Primed For Another PGA Tour Shot

By Alison PierceJuly 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
A lanky 16-year-old Chris Couch peered out at the heaving mass of golf fans lining the first fairway at the 1990 Honda Classic in Coral Springs, Fla. Only 156 pounds clung to his 6 foot 2 inch teenage frame, his knees trembled as he bent to put his tee in the ground. Man, this is unbelievable, he thought, willing a straight first drive. And this is what I want to do one day.
 
Chris Couch
Chris Couch proved he can play with the big boys with his T-13 at the Cialis Western Open.
Couch knew he was bound for the PGA Tour since his dad got him into golf at age 7. He still believes it. Couch grew up on the windy flats of South Florida, where you play golf all year round. He entered every junior tournament he could and rose to the top at age 17 as the No. 1 ranked junior golfer in the country and was bound for glory.
 
At the National Junior PGA Championship in 1991 Couch was headed into the fourth round with a one-shot lead. That night in his hotel room he watched the local news where the favorite, a young man named Tiger Woods, was interviewed. The reporter asked Tiger what he thought he needed to win. Tiger said if he shot even par he would easily take the tournament. That got me fired up, says Couch. So Tiger shot his even par and I shot a 63. Its a good story.
 
Yet Couchs career has been anything but consistent. Known as a streaky player, the last 10 years have been marked by dramatic peaks and valleys. Couch recorded a tie for seventh on the PGA Tour at the 1999 Sony Open in Hawaii, a career best, but failed to keep his card. He hit a mental low the next year on the Nationwide and was ready to hang up his clubs. I was tired of traveling, I was tired of playing bad, says Couch, who by then had a young family.
 
He went straight to the head pro at Gainesville Country Club, Cary Splane, who also happens to be a good friend, and he asked for a job. Stlane said, I would love to have you, but I wont have you. Youre too good, you cant quit. Three months later Couch entered the Nationwide's season-opening Florida Classic under a sponsors exemption and won the tournament. He took home his first career victory and got his status back on the Nationwide Tour. Its an ongoing joke with us now, says Couch. Every time I call him, he says he has a job opening for me.
 
There was yet another time in his career that Couch nearly gave up. He had run out of money mid-season in 2003 and borrowed $3,000 from PGA Tour member Brenden Pappas to continue playing. I gave myself three weeks, says Couch. The first week I finished 25th, the second week I finish seconnd, and the third in Knoxville I finished fifth. I was able to pay him back and since then Ive been in pretty good shape. More than good shape.
 
Indeed, Couch finds himself on top again with his recent success at the Cialis Western Open, where he held the 36-hole lead and won almost as much money with that tournament and his LaSalle Bank Open win combined, than he did all last year. He is now poised to take back the No. 1 spot on the Nationwide Tour money list and with one more win, a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour.
 
Now 6 feet 4 inches and 225 pounds, Couch has the athletic demeanor of a star baseball pitcher and an easy confidence. He feels hes more ready than ever to play at the PGA Tour level, and is now a better player than hes ever been.
 
A lot of it has to do with attitude change, says Couch. Ive been working on focus, relaxation, breathing and being positive. A lot of it is mental, being out there with all the oohs and aahs. Hes also been working on his swing by carefully studying the swings of Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam and his old nemesis, Tiger Woods. Els has the same type of body as me, the same position at the ball, I try to get close to his swing. says Couch.
 
And its been hard to miss the wacky cross-handed grip he whipped out at the John Deere Classic last July. Couch says that he was hitting it so bad inside 80 yards and out of the bunker that his coach had him try the cross-hand as a drill to hit shallow through the ball. It stuck.
 
The hardest part about it is not worrying about what people think, says Couch, They make a lot of comments that I must be nervous or something. But Im not worrying about those comments, it works for me.
 
Youve got to have a lot of guts to throw that in play, confirms Jeff Gove, whos also bounced back and forth from the PGA Tour to the Nationwide Tour, His game has really improved, hes also been using the long putter and its worked for him really well.
 
Fellow Nationwide Tour player Scott Peterson, whos played with Couch for five years, says hes not surprised about Couchs performance. I think whats a bigger shock is that he hasnt done better on the PGA tour, says Peterson. Theres a misconception about Chris that he doesnt take it seriously, but hes all business on the golf course.
 
Above all, Couch is a competitor. Im very fierce. I definitely want to beat everybody and win. But at the same time, I want to be nice, laughs Couch, But I want to be a lion and attack, he quickly adds.
 
Couch has the utmost respect for his toughest competitor Troy Matteson (Read - Matteson Calculating His Way to the PGA Tour) who stole the top spot on the money list from him last week when Couch was at the Cialis Western Open. Hes played the most consistent of anyone on tour, says Couch. My hats off to him. I hope we have a fun chase this year.
 
After all, this fierce lion has his priorities in order. His favorite thing is to play with his two kids, Christian and Cayden, who travel with him to many of his tournaments. Asked if hes going to push them to play golf, he replies, If they want to, its great, but golf is a frustrating game. There is no one to rely on but yourself, mentally and physically.
 
'It would be easier just to be a doctor, he smiles.

Related Links:
Chris Couch's Bio
Full Coverage - National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic
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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”