Something very remarkable transpired on Sunday afternoon at the Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C. Ageless Freddie Couples is now 63 although he still has that youthful gleam in his eye. What Freddie did during the final round of the SAS Championship was simply remarkable — he bettered his age by three shots and picked up his first senior win in more than five years.
Twelve birdies and six pars added up to a 12-under par 60 — Couples hadn’t gone that low in 2,172 rounds on the regular PGA Tour nor in his previous 420 on the over-50 set. And that was 12 birdies over the final 14 holes at Prestonwood. Added to a pair of 68s, Couples finished 20-under par, a fast six shots clear of second place Steve Alker.
“Today was just an unreal day,” said Couples, who became the third oldest player ever to win on the Champions Tour behind Bernhard Langer and Scott Hoch. “The putt on 10, I knew was a huge boost.” Freddie had just finished the front nine with five straight birdies but found the water with his tee shot on 10. His third was just short of the green, 30 feet from the hole. But he rolled it in for a huge par save — it was that sort of day with the flat stick for Freddie.
But Couples talked about his ball striking. “I never hit it like that,” said Couples, whose previous best score was a 61 in the final round of the 2014 Shaw Charity Classic. “Yesterday, I didn’t feel well, and, today on the range — I’ve really never hit it like that. Every shot, I hit and went on and did really, really well.” Couples had nothing higher than a “4” on his scorecard and polished off the masterpiece round with seven straight birdies starting at 12, closing the door on Jerry Kelly and Alker.
It was his 14th Champions win, his first in 1,939 days to be exact. Freddie’s 60 was the lowest final round score by a Champions Tour winner in the circuit’s 41 years of existence. Griffin Flesch, son of fellow senior player Steve Flesch, was Couples’ caddie for the week, filling in for Freddie’s regular guy, Mark Chaney. Couples called Griffin early in the week. “I said just get to Raleigh on Tuesday and we’ll have a good time and we did!”
Sadly, Couples won’t appear in the Schwab Cup playoffs starting this week although he’s qualified. He knows his body and is always on a pitch count. “My game can come and go,” he said. “I’m done for the year. My game on the Champions tour is trending in the right direction.”
“Bruce” Koepka Finally Gets A LIV Win:
Brooks Koepka plays his cards close to his chest when it comes to his physical health but common belief was that he defected to the LIV circus/exhibition series because all is not well with the state of his body, especially his right knee.
Koepka, a pretty good secret-keeper, finally came clean after he managed to outlast Peter Uihlein in a three-hole playoff to win the Jeddah event in the home country of The Infidels (aka the Saudis). Koepka started fast with an eight-under par 62 but struggled the final two rounds — 67-69 on the par 70. He and Uihlein tied at 12-under.
Afterward, Keopka came clean about his physical struggles and his future. “The last two years haven’t been fun,” Koepka said. “It’s been a long road.”
“It’s been before LIV, when I blew my knee out and my foot was pointed that way, almost backwards and sideways,” Koepka said. “Credit to Dr. (Neal) El Attrache; throw his name out there. I mean, eventually I’m going to have to have a knee replacement in a few years, but I wasn’t sure whether I could even move the same way and if I want to play if I could move the way I wanted. I’m fortunate to be in the spot that I’m in right now.”
Adrian Otaegui Gets Win At Valderrama:
Spain’s Adrain Otaegui was a popular winner Sunday at Valderrama as he blew away his competition and won for the fourth time on the DP World Tour.
Otaegui shot a remarkable 19-under par at Valderrama, a former Ryder Cup host site (1997). He began the final round with the six shot lead and shot a closing 68 to set a new tournament record.
It was back-to-back wins for Spaniards as Jon Rahm won the previous week in Madrid. This win for Otaegui came two years after his last victory, which came at the Scottish Open.
Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren finished second at 13-under.