Couples Stands Tall At Fallen Oak
BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI | Fred Couples had no
plans for last-minute heroics but his final-hole
birdie pulled out a victory Sunday at the
Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic.
Couples captured his seventh career
Champions Tour title with the win. He came to
the 18th hole tied with Michael Allen but hit a
wedge approach shot within 12 feet and holed
the putt to win by one.
Couples shot a 3-under 69 in the final round
and finished 54 holes at Fallen Oak Golf Club at
However, Couples was on a slide coming
home. He held a two-shot lead when he made
an inexplicable bogey on the par- 5 15th from the
middle of the fairway. He had a hybrid for his second shot and flared it to the right. He chunked his
pitch and failed to get up and down for par.
On the 212-yard, par- 3 17th, Couples found a
greenside bunker from the tee and with an awkward lie, could only manage a bogey, which tied
him with Allen with one hole to play. And Allen
narrowly missed birdie putts on the 17th and 18th
that would have changed the outcome entirely.
“To be honest, in my mind, on the par 5 I
knew I was going to hit a squirrelly shot because
of the ball below my feet,” Couples said. “Luck-
ily, Michael (Allen) didn’t make another birdie. I
was very lucky to end up birdieing the last hole.”
Couples started the tournament on fire with
a 9-under 63 to take the first-round lead by one
over Tom Pernice Jr. A four-hour rain delay in
Saturday’s second round led to a slow start by
Couples, although he finished with a 2-under
70. That tied him for the 36-hole lead with Jeff
Sluman, who lit up Fallen Oak with a 64.
Allen came charging up the leaderboard and
wound up with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to go
with rounds of 68-69 that gave him a 13-under
203 total. Allen was the only player in the field
with three rounds in the 60s.
Pernice came back from a second-round 73
to post a 3-under 69 on Sunday to tie for third
with Sluman at 11 under. Sluman bogeyed the
last two holes to shoot 73 in the final round.
Sluman tied for second at last year’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic.
Bill Glasson, Bobby Clampett and Jim
Thorpe tied for fifth at 9 under. Glasson was the
best of the three on Sunday with a final-round
69. It was the 63-year-old Thorpe’s best finish
on the Champions Tour since his release from
prison on tax evasion.