Notes Couples Misses First Cut

By Associated PressApril 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Fred Couples has to come up with something else to do on this Masters weekend.
 
The 1992 champion missed the cut at Augusta National for the first time Friday, ending his consecutive cuts streak at 23. His streak, interrupted only when he didnt play in 1987 and 1994, had tied a record set by Gary Player from 1959-82.
 
Its been a long time, he said. Its been fun.
 
Couples, who had been the only Masters champion never to miss a cut, came to No. 18 needing a birdie to make the weekend, and he gave himself a great chance with a 10-footer above the hole. But he missed it by inches, and immediately looked skyward as the crowd groaned.
 
When I hit it, I thought Id made it, he said.
 
Instead, his even-par 72 put him at 4-over 148 and one stroke above the cut line. The top 44 and ties play the weekend, and he tied for 46th.
 
I thought if I could birdie a few holes, itd be close, Couples said. I needed one more.
 
Couples wasnt the only big name to miss the cut. Sergio Garcia wont be shedding the best player to never win a major tag this week, finishing at 4-over with Couples, three-time major champion Ernie Els, Luke Donald and Augusta native Charles Howell III. Rory Sabbatini kept the Par 3 Contest curse going, finishing at 5-over 149.
 
Steve Stricker (150), and former champions Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal (151) and Ben Crenshaw (152) went home early, too.
 
Couples had to scramble to make the cut last year, but that was when his back was aching so badly hed played only two competitive rounds coming into the Masters and was practically doing yoga between shots to keep himself loose. He arrived in far better shape this year, fresh from a tie for fourth at the Houston Open last weekend that was his best finish since tying for third at the 2006 Masters.
 
But he got off to an ugly start Thursday with a bogey on No. 1, and things never really improved. He shot a 4-over 40 on the front nine and finished with a 76, leaving him too much work to do Friday.
 
As well as I played last week, I think I set my sights a little high yesterday, he said. I went out and I struggled and I tried to hit better shots than I could, and I went from 2-over to 3-over to 4-over, and youre kind of done.
 
Couples was greeted with cheers of Go, Freddie! and Have a good one, Freddie! after he teed off on No. 1 Friday. But he could never get anything going, not making a birdie until the par-5 13th.
 
Youre not going to shoot good scores if youre not making a few birdies out there, he said. Theres a lot of hard holes and youre going to make bogeys.
 
He wont be making anything this weekend. For the first time in two-plus decades, Couples wont be around.
 
Im kind of disappointed in that. But Im really disappointed with the way I played, he said. The streak is part of the deal. But now its gone.
 
NOT ME: Jose Maria Olazabal wants to play in the 2010 Ryder Cup, not make out the lineup.
 
Olazabal denied a report Friday that hed been asked to be the European captain in 2010. He said he did discuss the job a few weeks ago with Henrik Stenson, who is on the players committee. But it hasnt been offered and Olazabal certainly hasnt accepted it.
 
We just had a little chat, nothing serious. The job was not on the line, the two-time Masters champion said after missing the cut by four strokes.
 
Im 42 years old. If I didnt think I could play in two years, I should not be here, Olazabal added. If I get healthy, I still feel I can play some golf. The captaincy can wait.
 
Olazabal has played in seven Ryder Cups, including in 2006 when he made the team after a seven-year absence. Nick Faldo made him an assistant captain for this years Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky'provided Olazabal doesnt make the team as a player, which isnt likely to happen.
 
He missed much of last year because of a back injury, and is slowly working himself back into shape. He shot a 76-75 at Augusta National, and said hell now take the next few weeks off.
 
I feel tired, to be honest, he said. Im going to go home, take a few weeks rest and see how I feel, see if I get any stronger.
 
Europe has won the last three Ryder Cups, winning by record margins the last two times.
 
HONORABLE AMATEUR: Michael Thompson did the right thing, even though it might have cost him a chance to make the cut at the Masters.
 
The amateur called a one-stroke penalty on himself on the 15th hole after he saw his ball move after he had already addressed it. He wound up taking a bogey, then followed with bogeys on the next two holes to end any chance he had of making the cut.
 
It really turned my round, turned the momentum against me, said Thompson, the U.S. Amateur runner-up. It was very unfortunate, but Im sure its happened many a time before here.
 
Thompson might have gotten away with not saying a word. The ball moved so slightly his playing partners didnt notice, and the rules official wasnt close enough to tell.
 
It was his word and his word only'and he turned himself in.
 
He handled himself beautifully, said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, one of Thompsons playing partners. He claimed that he grounded the club. I didnt see that, but my back was turned, I guess. And it was at a very critical juncture too. Hes looking at birdie and he knows hes right on the cut line, too.
 
You know, when the greens get this fast, a little gust of wind can move the ball. I didnt see him ground the club, but he said he did.
 
The bogey also cost Thompson the low-amateur title. He finished at 7-over 151, a stroke behind Trip Kuehne.
 
But Thompson said hed do the same thing if it happened again.
 
You just have to follow the rules. It doesnt matter how youre playing or whats going on, Thompson said. Stuff like that that happens, but its unfortunate that it happened for me this week because I really wanted to stay for the weekend.
 
PLUCKED ROSE: Justin Roses chances for a green jacket are all wet.
 
The Englishman did his traditional Masters swoon Friday, falling out of contention when he went in the water on 15 on his way to a triple bogey. With a 6-over 78, Rose went from a share of the lead to 10 strokes back.
 
Theres plenty to play for sometimes, even if youre not meant to win, Rose said. But yeah, obviously, its not going to be the exciting weekend I was looking forward to'exciting Saturday, anyway, I was looking forward to.
 
Rose wasnt having a great day to begin with, playing the front nine in 2 over. But it was the par-5 15th that ruined him. He laid up short of the pond on the 530-yard hole'and still put his third shot in the water. He flew the green with his fifth shot and that ball looked like it might go in the water, too, but it stopped short.
 
He finally got on the green with his sixth shot, then two-putted for an 8.
 
A 20-second lapse in concentration. In hindsight, I should have gone for the green, Rose said. I struggled with my concentration today. It was such a long round. Coming in last is tough, and theres a lot of noise going on. Thats what I found really tough coming in. I dont know if I didnt quite work my way around, but I was struggling out there. It was a tough finish.
 
This isnt the first time Rose has blown up when hes been at or near the top of the leaderboard. Leading after the first two rounds in 2004, he shot an 81 on Saturday that matched Lee Trevino for the worst third round ever by the 36-hole leader at the Masters.
 
Oh, and that 78 Friday? It tied 72-year-old Gary Player.
 
PLAYING IT AGAIN: Gary Player wont settle for just one tee shot next year.
 
The 72-year-old didnt come close to making the cut at the Masters on Friday. But he made his own cut with a 78.
 
I said if I break 80, Ill come back next year, said the three-time champion, who bent down and kissed the green as he came off 18.
 
This was Players 51st Masters, topping the record for most played that hed shared with Arnold Palmer. He hasnt been a threat here in years, making the cut only twice in the last 17 years. But he feels as if he can still play, and he loves this tournament.
 
But the fitness fanatic said he will make one change before next years tournament.
 
Im going to increase my weight training, the diminutive South African said. Its really irritating when I cant reach these par 4s.
 
DIVOTS: Defending champion Zach Johnson finally went for a par-5 in two Friday. He had gone the entire tournament'and Thursdays first round'without even trying to reach the longest holes in two. That wasnt my point, going for it. It was just the way I played, Johnson said. It worked. He made birdie. Johnson Wagner, the last person to make the Masters field after winning in Houston last weekend, made the cut. Hes at 2-over after a 76 Friday.
 
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    RIP Lou King and his history-making hats

    By Al TaysOctober 23, 2018, 1:50 pm

    A moment of silence, please, for Lou King, who died Saturday in Iowa City at age 93. If you’re wearing a hat, do NOT take it off, especially if it bears some company’s name or logo. Lou used to get mad when professional golfers would take off their hats – at least the professional golfers he was paying to wear said hats. His company’s hats.

    Amana.

    Every golfer who gets paid to wear some non-golf company’s name or logo on his hat – we’ll expand it to anywhere on his clothing – owes Lou King a debt of gratitude. We’re talking to you, Phil Mickelson, with your KPMG visors. And you, Bernhard Langer, with that Mercedes logo on your shirts. And you, John Daly, with – well, with seemingly everything, everywhere.

    In Lou King’s long, illustrious career in golf, his employers included the Ben Hogan Company, MacGregor Golf and the PGA of America (for which he served as executive director). But it was during his tenure at the Iowa-based appliance maker Amana that he had the most lasting impact on the game. His idea was simplicity itself: Give Amana exposure in person, on television and in newspapers and magazines by paying pros to wear hats with the company’s logo.

    Amana paid pros $50 per tournament – “dirt cheap,” King told me when I profiled him in The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post in 1999. And it was well targeted advertising, too, aimed at affluent people who play golf. “Those are the people who buy major appliances,” King said.

    Many of golf’s powers-that-be were less than amused, however. Tournament winners were frequently directed to doff their headgear for post-round television interviews. That made King see red. “If you’re going to take your hat off,” he would complain to any of his client pros who did, “why am I paying you?”

    It was practically a moot point, though, as TV directors schemed to keep the controversial caps out of the camera’s frame.

    Legendary CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian was particularly galled by King’s hat strategy. Burned into his memory was the first pro he saw wearing an Amana hat on one of his broadcasts: Larry Ziegler, in a late-1960s Masters.

    When I interviewed him for my 1999 article on King, Chirkinian, who died in 2011, said he refused to show Ziegler because “I was all of a sudden quite incensed that he was wearing this identification representing Amana, and I felt that I had to do something to protect the integrity of our sponsorship.”

    By 1999, however, most of those involved in network broadcasts of golf tournaments had ceased trying to stem the tide of corporate logos. “You really don’t think about it anymore,” said Jack Graham, current Golf Channel and former ABC Sports producer. “It’s become so much an accepted practice.”

    Still standing guard on the wall, however, was NBC’s golf producer, Tommy Roy. “We do think about it still,” Roy said at the time. But last week, when I asked Roy the same question I had asked him in 1999, he chuckled. “No,” he said, “we haven’t worried about that in years.”

    The networks’ vigilance during the 1960s sometimes bordered on the absurd. Graham told me in 1999 that former ABC Sports president Dennis Swanson insisted on wiping out hat logos on still pictures of players that were used on ABC’s golf broadcasts. “I understood what Dennis was saying,” Graham said, “but at the end of the day I said ‘Look, you see them eight gazillion times on the golf course with their logos on. I think we make them look foolish with a hat that has nothing on it.’”

    There was concern in some quarters that the Amana logos would spawn competitors, with players starting to look like NASCAR drivers. Some would say that has already come to pass. A photo of Daly, who admittedly is an extreme case, taken at this year’s Constellation Senior Players Championship reveals no fewer than six sponsor logos on his golf shirt – one on each side of his collar, one on each sleeve and one on each breast.

    King would not have approved. “If it gets to be bad taste to where they start to look like some of these race cars, I think it’s bad,” he told me. “I personally don’t think it’s right for a player to have three or four different logos on their golf shirt.”

    Times change, though. The PGA Tour’s regulations on logos read in part: “As a guideline, no more than four different sponsor logos should appear on a player’s clothing and headwear.”

    King spread the Amana hat gospel to more than just professional golfers. A former starting quarterback for the University of Iowa, he later became friends with legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. King and Bryant would occasionally play together in golf outings and charity tournaments, and King would always make sure to give Bryant a pristine white golf hat with the Amana logo.

    King was also friends with former Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns, and provided Amana stocking caps for the team to use when the temperatures plummeted. “For three years we had terrific logo recognition in pro football,” King said.

    The question of which pro was the first to be paid to wear an Amana hat is somewhat muddled. King paid eventual winner Bob Goalby to wear an Amana hat in the 1968 Masters (that featured the infamous Roberto De Vicenzo scorecard gaffe), but Amana’s official program of paying pros didn’t begin until later that year, when King saw Julius Boros put on an Amana hat (that he had gotten when he played in the company’s yearly pro-am) in the Texas heat of the 1968 PGA Championship in San Antonio. That convinced King that a widespread program would be worth the investment, and the rest is hat history, logo lore.

    So tip your hat – just don’t take it off – to Lou King, a man ahead of his time.

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    Golf Channel adds Matt Farrell as GM of Alternative Golf & Exec. Director of World Long Drive Association

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 23, 2018, 1:20 pm

    Farrell’s New Role Follows Past Decade Spent as CMO of USA Swimming

    Matt Farrell, CMO of USA Swimming, has joined Golf Channel as General Manager of Alternative Golf and Executive Director for the World Long Drive Association. Farrell is a 20-year veteran of sports and entertainment marketing spanning roles with USA Swimming, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Warner Brothers. The announcement was made today by Tom Knapp, Golf Channel executive vice president, partnerships and programming.

    “Golf Channel is committed to the growth of the game by engaging new and different fans in our coverage of all aspects of the game,” said Knapp. “Alternative competitions like World Long Drive expand golf’s reach, and Matt’s proven track record of elevating sports, both through grassroots efforts, digital extensions and high-profile media opportunities will further fuel our efforts. Matt has a terrific reputation within the Olympic community, where he is known as an effective and strategic partner amongst colleagues across sport governing bodies and sponsors.”

    “From the first time I experienced a WLD event, I immediately saw the progressive vision and promising future of long drive as a sport and unique avenue for golf to connect with younger, athletic-minded sports fans,” Farrell said. “And thanks to the investments of NBC Sports, the competitors, sponsors, and event hosts the past few years, we have an incredible foundation to expand upon with a global, long-term strategic plan. For me personally, I look forward to combining my background in commercial development, organizational leadership and digital content at USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee with Golf Channel’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm to grow the sport of golf in non-traditional ways.”

    In the newly created role, Farrell will lead all domestic and international business elements for Golf Channel’s owned and operated alternative golf franchises, led by the World Long Drive Association, which has aired on Golf Channel since 2013. For these franchises, Farrell will oversee event sponsorships, marketing, communications, operations, player relations and TV/digital media extensions. Farrell will lead teams focused on further development of additional alternative golf competitions, events and franchises. Farrell will report to Knapp and his official start date is December 3.

    Since making a commitment to add World Long Drive to its business portfolio in 2015, Golf Channel has elevated the sport to feature five televised live competitions in 2018, culminating in the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in primetime, and adding the women’s division to televised events for the past two years. Previously, World Long Drive’s exposure was limited to a single, tape-delayed presentation of the men’s world championship on ESPN2. Despite a history as a sport dating back to 1976, Golf Channel’s support drove World Long Drive to be named a 2018 finalist for a “Breakthrough Sports League of the Year” by the annual Cynopsis Sports industry awards. The broader sports industry also has taken notice, including ESPN proclaiming that long drive has “recently started to enter the mainstream of golf;” Men’s Journal noting “with the sport’s ascendant profile and ever-growing prestige,” fans should “buckle up for more high-octane action;” Golf Digest saying the WLD atmosphere is “on the upswing, gaining traction;” and Golf.com claiming it is “an eye-opening experience”.

    Matt Farrell Professional Background:

    • USA Swimming, Chief Marketing Officer since 2008, previously Managing Director of Business Development since 2005.
      • USA Swimming is a National Governing Body with 400,000 members and the No. 1 Olympic swimming country in the world.
      • Under his leadership, delivered highest corporate partner revenue in organization’s history, including corporate partners such as BMW, Marriott, MilkPEP, Arena, TYR, Blue Diamond and Chobani, in addition to long-term partnership renewals with Speedo and Phillips 66.
      • Farrell developed partnerships with Disney and Discovery Education, as well as a diversity and inclusion partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho, an African-American sorority.
      • Signature programs created by Farrell include USA Swimming Productions digital video department, SwimToday youth participation campaign, USA Swimming House VIP hospitality experience, and annual SwimBiz conference focused on elevating the swimming industry’s business potential, sponsorship opportunities and social media influence.
      • Previous professional experience includes serving as Associate Director, Internet Marketing at the U.S. Olympic Committee from 2000-2005, and Director of Internet Marketing, Warner Home Video for Warner Bros. from 1999-2000. Additionally, Farrell served previously at the U.S. Olympic Committee as Manager of Online Projects from 1997-1999 and Communications Coordinator at USA Swimming 1993-1997, after starting his career in the Purdue University’s Sports Information Office from 1992-1993.
      • Farrell additionally has served on the boards for Adaptive Adventures (2013-16) and USA Ultimate (2010-12).
      • Farrell graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BA in Broadcast Journalism.
      • Farrell, a life-long golfer, will be relocating to Golf Channel’s World Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.
      • Farrell is married to Michelle Dusserre, 1984 Olympic silver medalist in gymnastics, who currently works in international sports consulting. They have two daughters – Abby and Zoe. Abby is currently at the University of Illinois and competes on the wheelchair basketball team; while Zoe competes in soccer, swimming and playing in the marching band.
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    Randall's Rant: Tales of the lost and found

    By Randall MellOctober 23, 2018, 12:28 pm

    Give me a player who lost his way.

    Give me a player who lost his motivation, or his confidence, or maybe just his hard-fought momentum, or, better yet, a player who lost all of the above.

    Give me a man or woman like that as a winner on a tour Sunday, because there’s inspiration for all of us in those kind of stories.

    This wicked, mysterious game comes with the dreary certainty that eventually we’re all going to have to make our way out of some deep patch of woods.

    That’s what made this past week so special.

    We hit the trifecta.

    We didn’t just get one winner who came out triumphant after feeling lost this year. We got three of them.

    We got Brooks Koepka winning the CJ Cup @Nine Bridges in South Korea, Danielle Kang winning the Buick LPGA Shanghai and Sergio Garcia winning the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain.

    If you’re a golf fan needing an offseason as much as the players do, maybe you were tempted to take the week off and just gorge on high school, college and NFL football. Koepka, Kang and Garcia made that hard to do. They had compelling stories to tell, or to keep telling.

    Koepka, 28, ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time with Sunday’s victory. Yes, it comes after he won his second and third majors this year and after he was named PGA Tour player of the year, but it also comes in a year that began with such a troubling start.

    Koepka’s success is more remarkable when you remember he missed the Masters with a wrist injury. You can’t fully appreciate where he is now without reminding yourself he missed four months early in the year with a torn tendon in his left wrist, and that he spent two months in a soft cast and didn’t touch a club for 91 days.

    “You go from playing some of the best golf I’ve probably ever played to being at the lowest point professionally that I’ve been,” Koepka said on the eve of the U.S. Open back in June. “It wasn’t anything I’d wish upon anyone.”

    Six months ago, who would have believed he would seize the No. 1 ranking by fall? Six years ago, who would have believed it possible with Koepka beginning his pro career in Europe’s minor leagues? He’s the first European Challenge Tour player to win three majors.

    “It’s unbelievable,” Koepka said. “Look where I started. My first pro start was in Switzerland. I don’t think I could have said six years later I’d be No. 1.”

    And then there’s Kang.

    Last year, the two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur winner broke through to win her first LPGA title, making it a major at the KPMG Women’s PGA.

    By late this summer, Kang’s confidence was gone.

    Kang, 26, said she was struggling with the yips over full shots and over putts in a run of missing five cuts in six starts. While she began working out her issues going to Butch Harmon a month ago, she was still wrestling with demons just a week ago. She said she needed “four minutes” to take the club back over a shot at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball,” Kang said. “I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Kang was a bit of a mess early on Sunday in Shanghai, until her caddie handed her a wedge going to the back nine and told her to smash her golf bag with it, to exorcise her demon anger.

    “I thank him for that,” she said.

    And there’s Garcia, who broke through to win the Masters a year ago but looked as if he might not be worthy of a spot on the European Ryder Cup team last month. He missed eight of 11 PGA Tour cuts leading up to the Ryder Cup, including the cuts at all four majors, but he flipped a switch going to Paris. He returned to his former brilliance going 3-1 to help the Euros win.

    Garcia, 38, carried his Ryder Cup momentum to Spain.

    “To be able to win here at Valderrama three times in a row is a dream come true,” Garcia said.

    Yes, but give me players who know what nightmares are. Watching them find their way out makes for terrific golf theater. It makes football’s shadow a little less formidable this time of year.

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    Stock Watch: LPGA raises some Q-uestions

    By Ryan LavnerOctober 23, 2018, 11:42 am

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Brooks (+9%): Golf’s new king looks built to last, with a powerful game, a rock-solid stroke and a chip on his shoulder the size of his South Florida mansion. As long as Koepka stays healthy, the game’s preeminent big-game hunter will continue to eat.

    Danielle Kang (+7%): Two weeks ago her mind was so cluttered that she needed four minutes to pull the trigger on a shot. Battling chip and full-swing yips, she kept the demons at bay to earn an LPGA title even more satisfying than her major breakthrough.

    Paul Azinger (+5%): Tabbed to replace the inimitable Johnny Miller in the NBC booth, Azinger was the best and the most logical choice for the job. He’s a sharp observer of the game who won’t be afraid to let it rip, when necessary.

    Sergio Garcia (+4%): Whenever the Ryder Cup inevitably returns to Valderrama, even if he’s 65 years old, Garcia deserves at least some consideration for a captain’s pick. His record there is stupid-good: 14 appearances, three wins, seven top-3s, 13 top-10s.

    Gary Woodland (+3%): He’s 37 under par across the first two events of the season, with no wins to show for it. Tough sport!


    FALLING

    Ian Poulter (-1%): Playing in the final group with Koepka in Korea, Poulter threw up a 1-under 71 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 22 – and nearly tumbled out of the top 10.

    Slow-play penalties (-2%): Good thing the PGA Tour Champions rules officials finally cracked down on slow play at the senior level – by picking on Corey Pavin and not notorious slowpoke Bernhard Langer, who just so happens to be No. 2 in the points standings.

    LPGA Q Series (-4%): The LPGA’s new version of Q-School gets underway this week, and the women’s college golf coaches are not happy about it: The top 5 players from last season’s individual rankings (Jennifer Kupcho, Maria Fassi, Patty Tavatanakit, Lilia Vu, Lauren Stephenson) automatically earned a spot in the final stage, guaranteeing at least some Symetra status and likely a full LPGA card, if they finish inside the top 45. The LPGA is cherry-picking the best from the college ranks, even if they’re not yet ready to make the jump.

    World No. 1 parity (-5%): This was just the second time since the world rankings debuted that four players reached No. 1. That trend doesn’t seem like it’ll end in 2019, either – especially with Tiger Woods once again eyeing the top spot.