Couples Langer in two-man race at US Senior Open

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2010, 4:01 am

2010 U.S. Senior OpenSAMMAMISH, Wash. – Fred Couples shot a 5-under 65 on Saturday for a share of the U.S. Senior Open lead, feeding off a raucous hometown crowd hoping the native son can win his first U.S. Golf Association championship.

Couples matched Bernhard Langer (68) at 5 under at tree-lined Sahalee Country Club, with Langer birdieing the final hole to pull even. They are the only players under par after three rounds.

Couples shot a 4-under 31 on the front nine Saturday, making birdies at Nos. 2, 5, 7 and 9 and holing a bunker shot on the sixth to save par. He added a birdie at the 16th to post the best round of the week.

Langer had a streak of 20 holes without a bogey snapped at the 12th, but rebounded with the birdie at No. 18.

And they might have the stage to themselves Sunday.

Couples and Langer were five shots clear of Chien Soon Lu (68) and Tom Kite (69). Peter Senior (68), Michael Allen (71), Tommy Armour III (72) and John Cook (72) were 1 over.

A charge from the back of the field seems unlikely, considering Couples’ 65 is the lowest score of the week.

“If we shoot even par or 1 or 2 under it’s going to be very hard for anyone to get there,” Langer said.

While Couples was making his charge and eliciting waves of cheers through the trees of Sahalee, plenty of other contenders stumbled.

Playing with Couples, Tom Watson was 10 shots worse, shooting a 75. J.R. Roth, in the final group with Langer, also shot 75. John Cook was 3 under for the tournament early in his round, then finished with a 2-over 72.

Couples’ round was bogey-free and his best score since shooting a 63 in the first round of a Champions Tour event in late April.

Couples made birdies on the front nine at Nos. 2, 5, 7 and 9, nearly holing his second shot on the seventh to the point Watson questioned the gallery, “That’s a gimmie, isn’t it?”

But the most important hole was the sixth where Couples appeared headed to at least a bogey, but made a spectacular par. His tee shot flared right and tucked near some overhanging tree limbs. His second caught one of the tree limbs, advancing only 70 yards, and his third was punched under another tree and into a bunker fronting the right side of the green.

Fortunate to have a little green to work with, Couples flopped the bunker shot and watched it roll in the cup for a par, sending a massive roar through the course. The 31 tied the lowest nine-hole score in the first three rounds, matched only by Lu’s front nine Saturday.

Couples added par saves on the back at Nos. 15 and 18, sandwiched around an 8-foot downhill birdie putt at the 16th.

Langer kept his advantage for most of the round, moving to 5 under with a birdie at No. 11 after his eagle putt horseshoed around the cup. He gave back that shot a hole later when his second caught a tree limb and came up well short. It was his first bogey since the ninth hole Friday. On the 18th, Langer made a 20-foot putt to join Couples in the lead.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

Poulter figures to undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in that pack at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed the chase pack's predicament the best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


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"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?