Fred Couples makes Champions Tour debut

By Associated PressJanuary 22, 2010, 7:37 am
Champions TourKAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii – Fred Couples and Tom Watson are featured on the larger-than-life Mitsubishi Electric Championship posters that greet travelers at tiny Kona International Airport.

While Watson is identified as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Couples has a more humble title underneath his smiling mug: “Rookie.”

There’s no mention of his 15 PGA Tour tiles, 1992 Masters win or 2009 U.S. President’s Cup team captaincy.

“It’s just a different deal,” Couples said. “Everyone seems like a winner out here. Even the guys that didn’t play on the regular (tour) come and do well.”

Couples and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin will make their first official starts on the Champions Tour on Friday in the season-opening Mitsubishi. They each received sponsor exemptions, making them the first players to make their tour debuts at the winners-only event.

“It’s nice to be a rookie, but it’s also nice to feel extremely comfortable out here as well,” Pavin said. “When you’re a rookie on the PGA Tour, your eyes (are) wide, and trying to figure out what to do. Out here, I have a pretty good idea what I have to do. The guys have been incredible in welcoming me out here.”

Both players turned 50 late last year, have 15 U.S. PGA Tour wins and are fitting right in. They were loose and smiling as they chatted with players they haven’t seen in years—or ever.

“I’ll soon get to know a few of those guys, although right now I don’t have any idea who they are,” Couples said.

But the players know who he is.

“We need Freddie to come out and play, and Corey, and Paul Azinger, those kind of guys,” said 2006 champion Loren Roberts, who is coming off his second Charles Schwab Cup title in three years. “We need guys that are major champions to come out here and play on this tour.”

Couples made his senior debut last weekend, teaming with Nick Price to finish third in the Champions Skins Game at Kaanapali.

A total of 36 players are entered at Hualalai, one of the easiest courses on the tour that features generous fairways and immaculate greens. It is the first of 26 events on the 2010 schedule, which is one more than last year.

Last year, Berhard Langer held off Andy Bean by a stroke, winning the Mitsubishi for the first of his tour-high four 2009 victories. This season, Langer is going for an unprecedented third straight player of the year honor.

Pavin is hoping for some similar success. The 1995 U.S. Open champion plans to play six events on the U.S. PGA Tour and 18 on the 50-and-over circuit.

“I certainly want to get in a position where I can win some tournaments and I think I have a better chance of that out here than on the regular tour,” said Pavin, coming off a tie for 52nd at the Sony Open.

He said there’s a noticeable difference on the two tours.

“How should I say this? The guys (here) understand the big picture really well,” Pavin said. “They understand the sponsorships and what makes this whole tour tick. It’s really nice to have everybody understand that and work together as a team. But obviously when we go out, we’re competing against each other and it’s pretty serious competition and tough competition.”

Couples, meanwhile, aims to play 12 events on the U.S. PGA Tour and 10 senior events. Next year, he plans to concentrate on the Champions Tour.

“People want to know a goal. It’s not winning, it’s really to see if I can play that many tournaments,” said Couples, long troubled by back problems.
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”