Couples fights off elite field to win Chubb Classic
World Golf Hall of Famer claims 12th PGA TOUR Champions event and first since 2014
February 19, 2017
By The Associated Press
- Fred Couples shot a stellar 5-under 67 in the final round at TwinEagles to win by three shots. (Courtesy of Chubb Classic)
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) -- Fred Couples won the Chubb Classic on Sunday for his 12th PGA TOUR Champions title and first since 2014, rallying to beat Miguel Angel Jimenez at TwinEagles.
The 57-year-old Couples shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 to finish at 16-under 200 on the Talon Course, three strokes ahead of second-round leader Jimenez.
"Like for anyone, it feels great," said Couples, who moved to No. 1 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. "It was a tough day, but it really feels good to play well. ... It's never easy to win a golf tournament. This is a good course. You have to hit a lot of good shots. I think I hit quite a few."
Also the 2010 event winner at The Quarry, Couples won for the first time since the 2014 Shaw Charity Classic in Alberta. The World Golf Hall of Famer, long hampered by back problems, won 15 times on the PGA TOUR -- his lone major coming in the 1992 Masters.
"I felt a little pressure but I wasn't under gobs of pressure because you've got to just keep making birdies," Couples said. "Sometimes when you're trying to make pars it's hard to hit really, really quality shots. Out here, you're trying to birdie as many holes as you can."
Couples had three birdies on the front nine, and matched Jimenez's birdies on the par-4 14th and par-5 17th. Jimenez, a stroke ahead of playing partners Couples and Kevin Sutherland entering the round, shot a 71. The 53-year-old Spaniard bogeyed the par-4 18th.
Jerry Kelly closed with a 66 to tie for third at 11 under in his PGA TOUR Champions debut. The three-time PGA TOUR winner turned 50 in November. Jeff Sluman (68) and Canada's Rod Spittle (69) also were 11 under.
Sutherland followed his second-round 63 with a 73 to drop into a tie for sixth at 10 under with Bernhard Langer (69), Scott McCarron (67) and Jerry Smith (69).
Langer won in 2011 at The Quarry and 2013 and 2016 at TwinEagles. The 59-year-old German star won the season-opening event at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai for his 30th PGA TOUR Champions victory. He has 29 rounds in a row under par.
McCarron won last week in Boca Raton at the Allianz Championship.
Colin Montgomerie ran his under-par streak to 30, shooting a 71 to tie for 20th at 7 under.
John Daly tied for 30th at 5 under, shooting 68-74-69.
Couples opened with rounds of 68 and 65. He has broken 70 in all eight tour rounds this season, shooting 65-65 to finish second in Hawaii and 68-65-69 to tie for sixth in Boca Raton.
Fred Couples wins by three at Chubb Classic
NOTES FROM FINAL ROUND
Fred Couples, 68-65-67 – 200 (-16)
• The win is Couples’ 12th victory on PGA TOUR Champions, and first since he defeated Billy Andrade in a playoff to win the 2014 Shaw Charity Classic.
• In three appearances at the Chubb Classic, Couples has two wins (2010, 2017) and a second-place finish (2016). His win in 2010 came at The Quarry, and it was his first victory on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Prior to this week’s win, he finished second at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and tied for sixth last week at the Allianz Championship. Dating back to 2015, he has 13 top-10s in his last 17 tournaments.
• With the victory, he has supplanted Bernhard Langer and claimed the top spot in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Langer had been No. 1 ever since he won the Regions Tradition on May 22, 2016, a span of 18 tournaments. Before Langer, the last player to lead the standings was Woody Austin, who won twice in April 2016.
• This is the first time Couples has led the money list since July 2010. Langer won the U.S. Senior Open and overtook Couples on the money list on Aug. 1, 2010.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, 65-67-71 – 203 (-13)
• Bogey-free through two rounds, Jimenez opened with a bogey on the first hole and relinquished his one-shot lead. He followed with seven consecutive pars and fell three strokes behind Couples before making his first birdie of the day on No. 9.
• On the back nine, Jimenez never got closer than two strokes, as he and Couples made identical scores on Nos. 10-17, including birdies on Nos. 14 and 17.
• He is now 2-for-7 in converting a Saturday-night lead into a victory, winning the 2014 Mitsubishi Electric Classic and the 2015 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in this fashion. When he won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic last April, he was in third place entering the final round.
• Jimenez hit 45 of 54 greens in regulation, tied with Joe Durant for best percentage this week. In 2016, Jimenez hit 71.05 percent of greens in regulation, the 13th best mark on Tour.
• In 24 career starts on PGA TOUR Champions, he has 15 top-10s, including five runner-ups, and one win in each of his three seasons.
• For the 17th year in a row, the winner of the Chubb Classic played in the final grouping. The last time the winner did not play in the last group was in 2000 when Lanny Wadkins needed a final-round 64 to rally from three strokes back, eventually winning in a playoff.
• Rod Spittle carded a final-round 69 and finished tied for third, which gives him entry into the next tournament, the Tucson Conquistadores Classic. He was the last player into the field, as he gained entry 10 minutes before his 9:45 a.m. tee time Friday when John Harris withdrew.
• Making his PGA TOUR Champions debut, Jerry Kelly carded a 66 Sunday and moved from a tie for 19th and into a tie for third.
• Jeff Sluman closed with a bogey-free 68 and finished tied for third. It was his best showing at this event in 10 tries, with his previous best being a tie for sixth in his debut in 2008.
• When Bernhard Langer made his fifth birdie of the day on No. 7, he grabbed a share of the lead at 12-under with Sutherland and Couples. Going to the par-5 17th, he was within two shots of the lead, but fell out of contention when he found the greenside hazard twice leading to a triple bogey.
• Langer finished tied for sixth after carding a final-round 69, his 29th consecutive round under par. The streak began with the first round of last year’s Boeing Classic, and in that span his scoring average is 67.34.
• Colin Montgomerie finished tied for 20th after carding a 71, extending his streak to 30 consecutive rounds under par. The streak began with the final round at the Boeing Classic, and his scoring average in that span is 67.97.
• Scott Parel led the field with 17 birdies this week, helping him to a T10 finish. Parel was co-medalist at PGA TOUR Champions Q-School in December and was one of five players to earn fully-exempt status through the qualifying tournament.
• Larry Mize and Brad Faxon carded 7-under-par 65s, the day’s lowest rounds. Mize moved from T38 to T10, while Faxon went from T61 to T25.