Chris Couch, who has played just four events in 2011, has joined Garrett Willis at 9 under after sticking his approach to four feet on the par-3 17th. Coch has six birdies on the back nine, and he stuck his approach on the par-4 18th to 10 feet after a Phil Mickelson-style escape from the trees. He missed the putt, but his 64 matches the low round of the tournament.
Couch has struggled with injuries the last few years but got his card back in 2010 the hard way -- by playing through a medical exemption. Very few players are able to regain playing status that way, but Couch has racked up four top-10s in his last 27 starts.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Couch didn't miss a fairway in Saturday’s second round until he hit his tee shot on the ninth hole, which was his 18th of the day.
Couch still managed to hit the green in regulation and two-putt for a final par that capped off a round of 65 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He'll start the third round 11 under and three strokes off the lead held by Tommy Gainey, as a result.
Couch's solid driving has left him second in fairways hit through 36 holes. He's tied for 24th in greens in regulation and has used 27 putts in each of the first two rounds.
"I drove the ball very well today," Couch said. "I missed one fairway and it was on the last hole there. ... But I don't think I missed the center of the fairway all day other than that, and that really helps out here. Hitting off the short grass to these tight pins where you can control the spin and all that, that helps a lot.
Couch's round included a 32 on the back nine, his first of the day. The Floridian birdied three straight holes on the back, one of which was a 15-footer at the 16th hole -- much to the delight of the fans.
"That's what this tournament is all about," Couch said when asked about the atmosphere. "The fans come out here to have fun. I love it. When I'm back home that's what I like to do. I like to have fun, play, and we yell and each other and do whatever.
"But I think it's a great tournament for that kind of thing, and we don't see that too often out here."
Couch has had a good West Coast swing, tying for seventh at the Bob Hope Classic and 27th at the Farmers Insurance Open last week. On Sunday, and likely into Monday, Couch will be looking for his second PGA TOUR win, and his first in five years.
"I'm just going to keep trying to do what I'm doing," he said. "I thank God for putting me in the position that I'm in for this weekend. We're already on the weekend, but for the next 36 holes, and hopefully I can keep my energy going.
"I'm not in the best shape that I've been in my life, but hopefully I can keep my energy going and keep a good, positive attitude out there." -- Helen Ross
Early in the week, Chris Couch didn’t know if he’d even be able to play. Not only is he playing, he’s playing well.
Friday, Couch, who is playing with a sore wrist, shot a 3-under 69 on the Palmer Course, which leaves him in a tie for fourth and three shots off the lead heading into the weekend. More importantly, his wrist seems to be holding up.
”It felt good today,” said Couch, who had six birdies on the day. “I was worried earlier in the week, packing the bag, it's always something … but it's felt better every day, so hopefully it will stay that way.”
In terms of his golf, of course, Couch is just happy to be playing again after missing virtually all of 2008 and 2009 with injuries. Still, he felt he left a few shots out there.
“I made a few mistakes, but I'm still a little rusty, so I'll take 69 today,” Couch said. “I didn't feel great about my putting, but hopefully we'll get that straightened out this afternoon and get them tomorrow.” -- Brian Wacker
Scott Verplank, Padraig Harrington and Chris Couch are in a tough spot today. They aren’t playing in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, meaning their Playoffs fate rests in the hands of others.
All three players entered this week’s tournament inside the top 70 in points. But Verplank had to withdraw due to a wrist injury while Harrington and Couch failed to make the cut.
As a result, all three are in danger of falling outside the top 70 and not advancing to next week’s BMW Championship.
Verplank, who started the week 54th in FedExCup points, is currently projected right on the cutline at No. 70.
Harrington, who started 57th in points, is projected at 72nd.
Couch, who started 67th in points, is projected at 79th.
Each player’s fate won’t be officially known until after the completion of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
If Harrington doesn’t advance, that will at least give him plenty of time to prepare for next month’s Ryder Cup in Wales. The Irishman was named as a captain’s pick for the European squad last week.
It looks like Chris Couch may have to wait another week to earn Major Medical Extension status for the rest of the year. Couch has five events remaining to make $57,250 to lock up the rest of his year, but he didn’t do himself any favors on the weekend -- he shot 71 Saturday and is just 2 under today and currently in a tie for 31st . Couch needs to finish inside the top 20 to earn enough this week. -- Brian Wacker
Chris Couch walked off the 18th green only slightly disappointed with his final-round 72, having gone double bogey-par-bogey over the final three holes. He won’t complain too much, though, about his 7-under finish.
“There will be a lot of bogeys on 18, but on the 16th I made a bad swing on the second shot,” said Couch. “You can’t miss right there. The course always plays tough on Sunday and I was trying to be patient today. Other than the double at 16, I thought I played great today. When the tough pins are placed in a certain position, you have to hit the middle of the greens and we did that all week.”
It was only the second appearance at THE PLAYERS for the 37-year-old Couch, who has worked on his game at TPC Sawgrass on numerous occasions in recent years when he lived in an RV for two years in St. Augustine.
“I was alone at the time and really did it for my two boys that live nearby and I wanted to be close to them,” said Couch. I figured ‘why buy a house?’”
Couch eventually moved from St. Augustine after marrying his second wife Julia. “We now have a little one together and ended up buying a house in Winter Garden,” Couch said. -- Michael Curet
With two eagles on the back nine Saturday, Chris Couch becomes the 15th player since 1982 at THE PLAYERS Championship to record two eagles in the same round. He's just the third player to do it on the back nine.
THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP: TWO EAGLES IN ONE ROUND
|Year||Player||Round||Eagle hole||Eagle hole|
|1984||Ralph Landrum||2nd||No. 14||No. 16|
|1985||Greg Twiggs||3rd||No. 2||No. 16|
|1990||Mike Sullivan||3rd||No. 9||No. 16|
|1999||Ernie Els||2nd||No. 2||No. 11|
|1999||Fulton Allem||2nd||No. 2||No. 4|
|2000||Justin Leonard||1st||No. 2||No. 11|
|2002||Carlos Franco||3rd||No. 2||No. 18|
|2003||Tiger Woods||4th||No. 2||No. 16|
|2004||Craig Parry||3rd||No. 11||No. 16|
|2006||Stewart Cink||1st||No. 2||No. 16|
|2006||Patrick Sheehan||1st||No. 4||No. 16|
|2006||Craig Parry||2nd||No. 2||No. 16|
|2007||Tim Clark||3rd||No. 2||No. 16|
|2009||Scott Verplank||1st||No. 15||No. 2|
|2010||Chris Couch||3rd||No. 11||No. 16|
It seems like everyone is going low here in the morning wave. Chris Couch is 5 under as he finishes up on No. 18, but the most impressive thing about his round is the pair of eagles he made on Nos. 11 and 15. Couch hit his approach on the par-5 11th to just over 3 feet and four holes later he rolled in another eagle putt, this time from just inside 29 feet.
Today’s round has moved Couch inside the top 15 for now and more importantly puts him that much closer to securing his card for the rest of the year after opening the season with a Major Medical because of shoulder surgery that has plagued him since 2008. -- Brian Wacker