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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 29, 2010

Couples playing like a Champion


Associated Press

CAP CANA, Dominican Republic When Fred Couples joined the Champions Tour, most everyone predicted success befitting a 15-time PGA Tour winner and Masters champion.

Judging from his first four events, everyone was right.

Couples won his third straight start on the 50-and-over tour yesterday, shooting a course-record 10-under 62 at Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada for a two-stroke victory over Corey Pavin in the Cap Cana Championship.

"I had a great stretch of golf in 1992," said Couples, who won three tournaments, including the Masters, in a two-month period then, "but I must say that these four weeks on the Champions Tour I'm not missing many shots."

Couples made 11 birdies in the final round and finished the tournament at 21-under 195. Pavin closed with a 66.

"It was an unbelievable day," said Couples, who made five birdies in a row from the second through sixth hole. "The first six or seven holes, there was an eagle, birdies and putts going in from everywhere."

The 50-year-old Couples is the first player in Champions Tour history to win three of his first four tournaments, and the eighth to win three straight starts, leaving him one behind the tour record set by Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987.

Couples earned $240,000 for a four-event total of $931,000.

Couples began the day two strokes behind Pavin and one back of Nick Price.

Pavin was the victim of a bad break when his second shot at the par-4 14th hole hit a greenside sprinkler head and bounced 60 yards over the green into a waste area. He was unable to recover and made a bogey, losing the lead for the first time since the seventh hole.

Russ Cochran shot a 67 to finish third at 14 under. Price, who shot himself out of contention with a watery approach shot and double bogey at the 15th hole, had a 71 to tie for fourth at 13 under with Tom Pernice Jr. (67) and Bernhard Langer (67).

ELSEWHERE

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Ernie Els had a two-shot lead over Kevin Na when the final round was suspended by thunderstorms that soaked Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla. for three hours. The round is to resume this morning.

Els had a five-shot lead with six holes to play and was cruising toward his second straight victory until hitting into the water for a double bogey on the 13th and into the sand for a bogey on the next hole.

Els was at 11 under and on the 15th hole. Na was at 9 under and on the front of the 15th green in two, 80 feet from the hole.

Andalucia Open: South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen earned his second straight trip to the Masters, winning his first European tour title in Malaga, Spain to move into the top 50 in the world ranking.

Oosthuizen closed with a 3-under 67 to finish at 17-under 263, three strokes ahead of Scotland's Peter Whiteford (66) and England's Richard Finch (67).

Louisiana Open: Argentina's Fabian Gomez won his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 7-under 64 in windy conditions for a tournament-record six-stroke victory over three players at Broussard, La.

Gomez finished at 15-under 269. Kyle Reifers (67), Scott Gutschewski (70) and Brian Vranesh (70) tied for second.