After 18 years Couch gets Bay Hill moment

By Associated PressMarch 30, 2010, 12:46 am

Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO, Fla. – Those 18 years Chris Couch wrote Arnold Palmer asking for an exemption at Bay Hill only to be denied came flashing back to him Monday.

Merely playing in the final pairing showed how far he’d come. Having Palmer watch him on the 18th green added to the satisfaction.

Even though Couch was three shots behind winner Ernie Els in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he couldn’t have been happier finishing tied for fourth.

“I think that I was a little bit inspired by not getting an exemption all those years,” Couch said. “I wanted to prove to Arnie that I love this golf course and that I play well out here.”

Maybe he won’t have to wait so long again.

The 36-year-old who lives in the Orlando area had plenty of highlights at Bay Hill. He hit perhaps the most remarkable – or unremarkable, depending on the perspective – shot of the week.

He knocked the ball off the rocks near the water on his approach to the 18th on Friday, skipping three times on the edges to narrowly miss the water and land on the green to save par. That got him into the final grouping, where he started three shots back Monday after thunderstorms postponed the final round.

Couch, whose only victory came in New Orleans in 2006, ended the tournament at 8 under. He won $264,000 with the finish, tipping his hat to Palmer walking off the green.

It was a moment Couch won’t soon forget.

“Maybe in the future if I need an exemption, that will look good on there,” Couch said. “I know Arnie will make the right decision, he’s a good guy. I hold nothing against him. I was just inspired to play well and prove to him I’m a great player and that I deserve to be out here.”

NA HAPPENING: Kevin Na sank the putt for bogey on the final hole, flung the ball into the water and watched it sink.

Just like his chances at Bay Hill.

After driving into the rough on the 18th, laying up and missing an 8-foot putt for par, he knew he had no shot to chase down Ernie Els.

“I’m going to break the door down one of these weeks,” said Na, who finished two shots back at 9 under for the tournament. “I’ve got metal, going to leave a mark, too.”

Na had his chances.

His 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th appeared perfect. Na started to raise his putter in triumph only to watch the ball stop 5 inches short, buckling his knees in stunned belief. He also missed a 58-footer for eagle on the 16th, where he started the day after thunderstorms postponed the final round.

But even after he drove way right into the rough on No. 18, he managed to layup and then knock it to within 14 feet for par. That would come up short.

This time by 2 inches.

“I just can’t believe I didn’t – that was a shocker it came up short,” he said. “I hit it and I was like, ‘Oh, no, it’s too soft.”’
Edoardo Molinari was a big winner Monday, even though he finished tied for second behind Ernie Els.

Molinari won $528,000 for finishing second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, giving him $778,777 for the year. Because that’s more than 150th on last year’s money list, he can become a special temporary member and receive unlimited exemptions on the PGA Tour the rest of the year.

If his earnings are at least equal to whoever finishes 125th on the money list in 2010, he can join the PGA Tour next year.

But the Italian still hasn’t decided if he would play full-time on the PGA Tour.

“I have to think about it, because last year I was playing the Challenge Tour, so this never entered my mind,” he said. “I like it over here. I think the weather is better and the courses are better. I’ll think about it.”
Retief Goosen had to wait a day to play one hole.

Then he had to wait again.

After thunderstorms postponed the final round, Goosen showed up Monday two hours before his scheduled 10 a.m. tee time only to learn it had been pushed back another two hours. So he sat around, watched TV and called friends back home in South Africa.

Nobody was asking about him.

“They all wanted to know about Ernie,” he said, chuckling.

Goosen made par on the 18th on Monday to finish 8 under and tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he was happy to see that another South African took home the trophy.

Waiting so long to hit four shots was another story.

“It’s unfortunate. A lot of players felt yesterday they probably could have started an hour earlier,” Goosen said. “We started at 8:30, and it’s light at 7. We could have had it done.”

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”