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Couples wins first senior major title

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Associated Press
August 22, 2011
— Fred Couples finished off John Cook with a nifty wedge shot to 3 feet on the third hole of a playoff Sunday in the Seniors Players Championship.

“I knew when it was going, it was a really good shot,” Couples said. “I didn’t think it was going to be short and trickle down the hill. I just felt like it was going to be right there. It was simple yardage—76 yards—and it hit soft. That extra rain certainly helped that shot, but I knew it was going to be close.”


Couples won his first senior major title, closing with an even-par 71 to match Cook (70) at 11-under on Westchester Country Club’s West Course—a longtime PGA Tour venue where Couples estimated he has played about 100 rounds in 30 years. Peter Senior (71) was third at 10 under.


Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, won for the first time this season after winning four times last year in his first season on the 50-and-over tour.


He won after having a non-traditional back procedure six weeks ago in Germany, and had to battle the stiff wind and a sore left hip that began giving him trouble during a nearly two-hour rain delay.


“I wouldn’t say I was playing awesome golf before the rain delay but it wasn’t bad,” Couples said. “After the rain delay, I just didn’t feel very good. I hit some good drives but I was not all that great.”


Couples joined Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd as the only players to win the Players Championship on the regular and senior tours. He also earned a spot in The Players Championship, an event he won in 1984 and 1996.


“That’s great,” Couples said. “I get to play with the studs, so that’ll be fun.”


Cook held a share of the lead for nine holes but bogeyed No. 16 and missed birdie putts on the final two holes, forcing the second straight playoff and fourth overall in the event.


“I thought that putt was going in,” Cook said. “My eyes got real big.”


Tom Lehman (68) was fourth at 9 under, a stroke ahead of 2010 winner Mark O’Meara (69).


Simpson breaks through


At Greensboro, N.C., Webb Simpson won the Wyndham Championship for his first PGA Tour title, finishing with a bogey-free 3-under 67 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory.


The Raleigh native and former Wake Forest standout had an 18-under 262 total at Sedgefield Country Club.


George McNeill (64) was second, and Tommy Gainey (69) third at 14 under in the final event before the PGA Tour playoffs. Carl Pettersson (69), Vijay Singh (65), Madison’s Jerry Kelly (65), Kyung-tae Kim (66) and Charles Howell III (67) tied at 13 under.


Pettersen triumphs


At North Plains, Ore., Suzann Pettersen rallied to win the LPGA Safeway Classic, overcoming a nine-stroke deficit with a 7-under 64 and beating Na Yeon Choi with a par on the first hole of a playoff.


In the playoff, Choi’s second shot on the par-4 18th went into the water to the right of the green, and she missed a putt for bogey before Pettersen sank her winning putt.


Pettersen, coming off a victory Aug. 7 in the European tour’s Ladies Irish Open, won her second LPGA Tour title of the year and eighth overall. The Norwegian star jumped to No. 2 in the world behind Yani Tseng.


Choi finished with a 73 to match Pettersen at 6 under on Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course.


Christina Kim shot a 78 to finish a dismal 11 over, but it was just enough to keep her in the 10th spot in the points standings for the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will take on their European counterparts in late in September at Killeen Castle. Rosie Jones then completed the 12-player team by adding Vicky Hurst and Ryann O’Toole as captain’s picks.



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