Perry tops Couples at Sr. Players for first major

By Associated PressJune 30, 2013, 7:10 pm

PITTSBURGH – Kenny Perry tried not to get ahead of himself Sunday on the 18th tee at the Senior Players Championship. He knew all too well how quickly fortunes can change on golf's biggest stages.

There was the devastation at the PGA Championship in 1996. Disaster at the Masters in 2009. Disappointment at the Senior PGA last month.

If there was a way to lose a major tournament, the affable 52-year-old Kentuckian seemed to have found it during his otherwise sterling career.

''I thought I was snakebit,'' Perry said. ''I got close so many times and I just seemed to mess up down the homestretch and not make it happen.''

This time, Perry didn't leave anything to chance.

After tap-in birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 gave him a two-shot lead over Fred Couples, Perry made par on No. 18 to close a spectacular weekend at Fox Chapel. His bogey-free 6-under 64 left him at 19-under 261, two shots ahead of Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf.

''My word was patience,'' Perry said. ''I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself to win the golf tournament because I had so much heartache, so many losses. ... I was just thinking, 'You know what, I'm tired of worrying about that.'''

Instead of feeling the pressure, Perry exerted it. He withstood an early charge from Waldorf, who birdied his first four holes, then kept firing at pins on the back nine while Couples' putter failed him.

The Hall of Famer leads the Champions Tour in putting average but could generate little magic Sunday. He drove the green on the short par-4 seventh only to three-putt for par. Couples later knocked it within 8 feet on the 15th only to send his birdie attempt streaking past the hole. He pulled the comebacker to the left and the bogey gave Perry his opening.

Perry stuffed a pitching wedge within inches on the 16th, then hit a 6-iron to within 2 feet on the par-3 17th. He tapped in the birdie to maintain his two-stroke lead, then played smartly on the 18th. He left it just short of the green in two and watched as Waldorf and Couples both reached the long par 5. Their long eagle attempts never sniffed the cup, and when Perry rolled in his par putt, he thrust the ball in the air just before the sky opened for one last deluge on the water-logged course.

Fox Chapel took on more than 4 inches of rain during the week, turning what was supposed to be a stiff test into a pitch-and-putt for long hitters like Couples and Perry. The conditions begged for players to attack the pins. Rather than simply protect par as he did during his near-misses in earlier majors, Perry knew he could go for it.

It paid off with a $405,000 check and one very significant weight off his shoulders.

''I'm hoping the floodgates are going to open,'' Perry said. ''But I don't know, anytime you get into contention you get nervous, you get antsy. But today I had a peace about me ... if I can kind of draw upon this the next time I get into the heat of things hopefully I'll finish it off like I did today.''

Couples was hoping to polish off his third major victory on the Champions Tour, but after cruising through the first three rounds he couldn't match Perry's shotmaking on the final day. Couples now has four runner-up finishes this season, including each of the last two majors.

''There were a couple shots you always should have back,'' Couples said. ''The putt on (15) looked so easy and I just hammered it and I kind of flinched at it coming down the hill ... it was a little bit of a sour day the way I played after I teed off.''

Perry trailed by as many as eight shots earlier in the tournament before tracking down Couples over the weekend. He drew within two thanks to consecutive 63s in the second and third rounds and kept it going Sunday.

It was sweet vindication for a player who has won more than $31 million during his 31-year career but is better known for those rounds that went all wrong.

Perry led Mark Brooks by a shot at the 1996 PGA Championship at Valhalla just outside Louisville, about two hours north of his hometown of Franklin, Ky., only to bogey the final hole to fall into a playoff. Brooks birdied the first extra hole for the victory.

The agony grew exponentially 13 years later, when Perry stood on the 17th tee at Augusta with a two-shot lead. Consecutive bogeys dropped Perry into a three-way tie with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell. He failed to get up and down on No. 10, the second playoff hole, and Cabrera made par to capture the green jacket.

Perry had another close call at the Senior PGA in May. He led through three rounds at Bellerive in St. Louis but was dogged by knee pain and overtaken by unheralded Kohki Idoki.

On Sunday, there would be no folding.

Buoyed by a hot putter, Perry teamed with Waldorf to wear down Couples.

Waldorf began the day four strokes behind Couples but wasted little time making up ground. He rattled off four straight birdies to start his round and shot 29 on the front nine. He cooled off after making the turn and finished with a 6-under 64, giving Perry enough room to pull away.

''It's not surprising, (Perry) is obviously a great player,'' Waldorf said. ''Winning these majors isn't easy and he did a great job this week.''

Michael Allen and first-round leader John Huston tied for fourth at 12 under. Colin Montgomerie, playing in his first Champions Tour event, closed with a 65 to tie for ninth.

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Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


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“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


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The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.