By Jay Betsill
Fred Couples, better known to his huge legion of fans as ‘Boom Boom,’ won his tenth Champions Tour title this week at the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club. After a late round birdie barrage, Couples finished at 15-under and became the second two-time winner in tournament history, joining Hale Irwin, who won in 1998 and 2002.
“It was a great day,” Couples said. “I was a little salty out there at times. I assumed someone would get to 16 under. I’m just happy I made some birdies…I worked pretty hard but I drove it all over the lot. I made some putts, and when you do, you have a chance.”
Couples birdie on No. 18 was not without its share of drama as he had to get up and down after flying the green with his approach.
“I hit a 6-iron, and it was way too much club,” the 1992 Masters champion said. “To get up-and-down from there for me was kind of miraculous.”
Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Steve Pate tied for second at 14-under with Mark O’Meara, Michael Allen, Kenny Perry, Jeff Hart and Scott Dunlap log-jammed in a tie for fifth at 13-under.
Next up on the Champions Tour is the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in Biloxi. Notables in the field include Couples, Langer, Montgomerie, Allen, Perry, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Price, Corey Pavin and Nick Faldo.
— This week’s PGA TOUR event was the Valspar Championship at the Copperhead course of Innisbrook just outside of Tampa. John Senden (-7) emerged from a three-way tie for the lead going into the treacherous three-hole closing stretch known as “The Snake Pit” that included a chip in for birdie from 70 feet on the 16th hole — the hardest on the course — for his first PGA Tour victory in seven years. Notables in the field included Luke Donald (T4, -4), Justin Rose (T8, -2), Jason Dufner (T14, -1), Jordan Spieth (T20, E) and Jim Furyk (T20, E).
Next week’s PGA Tour stop is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Notables in the field include Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Bubba Watson. Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods withdrew from the event on Tuesday citing his lingering back issues.
— Two-time major champion John Daly card a 90 on Friday at the Valspar Championship. His career-worst round included a 12 on the par-4 16th hole, well behind highest score ever, an 18 on the sixth hole in the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational. His 90 followed a first round 74 on what is generally considered one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour schedule.
“You’re going to have big scores on holes,” Daly said. “That’s just the way golf is. But when you’ve got the yips, that’s no fun…I didn’t give up. I tried.”
— Jason Day withdrew from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill due to an injured thumb. The 26-year-old Australian also withdrew from Doral with the same injury.