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Couples Wins Senior Open Championship
Fred Couples birdied the final two holes at Turnberry to close with a 3-under 67 and win the Senior Open Championship. The victory - Couples' eighth and his second major title on the Champions Tour - was worth $315,600.
A 64 Saturday got Couples to within a stroke at the start of the final round of 54-hole leader Bernhard Langer, his playing partner in Sunday's final group. After two birdies and a pair of bogeys on the front nine, Couples finished in style, carding four birdies and a lone bogey at the par-4 13th on a day with breezy conditions and some rain.
Couples knew what he would be facing at the start of the final round. "It was going to be a tough day," said the Seattle native, who got a bit of revenge on Langer, who beat him in the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee near his hometown. "Coming down the stretch, I hit some really, really good shots."
After a tap-in birdie that gave him a one-stroke lead on Gary Hallberg on the par-5 17th, which the long-hitting Couples - who averaged 306 yards off the tee Sunday - hit in two, his approach from the right-hand rough on the par-4 closing hole found the green but stopped 30 feet short. Remarkably, Couples' birdie putt rolled into the cup. "The hole got in the way on 18," he noted during a greenside interview.
He ended up at 9-under 131, two strokes ahead of Hallberg, the 36-hole leader who tied Turnberry's course record of 63 on Friday. The 54-year-old Hallberg closed with a four-birdie 66.
The victory by Couples complimented the Champions Tour major he won in last year's Players Championship; his only major in his 15-win PGA Tour career came at the 1992 Masters. Couples was obviously proud of this latest triumph. "This is a great trophy that my names goes onto," he told a TV reporter.
Two Brits - Carl Mason (66) and Barry Lane (69) - finished tied for third at 4-under 276 with American Dick Mast (67). Langer had a desultory final round, carding only two birdies against five bogeys and a double on the par-4 12th for a 75; he lost any chance of catching Couples after a 5-over 40 on the home half.
The German, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and the 2010 Senior Open champion, dropped into a tie for sixth at 2-under 278 with Mark Wiebe (67), John Cook (71) and Australian Peter Fowler (73).
Sharing 10th at 279 were three former British Open champions from the U.S. - Mark Calcavecchia (66), Tom Watson (69) and Tom Lehman (69) - and Welshman Ian Woosnam (70).
But the story of day was written by Fred Couples, who with this title automatically qualifies for the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in East Lothian, Scotland.
For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/seniortour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012860/leaderboard/index.html.