Couples falls short to Langer

August 3, 2010

By Christopher Huber

Couples falls short to Langer

Bernhard Langer (left) talks with Fred Couples after the pair finished first and second in the U.S. Senior Open Championship Aug. 1 at Sahalee Country Club. By Christopher Huber

Even though he had all the crowd support he needed, Seattle native Fred Couples needed a miracle on hole No. 18 to have a chance Aug. 1 against the on-fire Bernhard Langer, of Germany, at Sahalee Country Club. A dismal mistake early in the fourth round of the 2010 U.S. Senior Open had forced Couples to play catch-up for the next 16 holes.

Despite making up the strokes, he couldn’t quite pull it off.

Langer became the first German to win any USGA championship after he beat Couples by three strokes in the 31st U.S. Senior Open. Langer finished 8-under and capped the tournament off with a 3-under 67. He earned $470,000 of the overall $2.6 million purse. Couples finished even for the day and was 5-under overall.

“I just tried to focus,” Langer said at the trophy presentation.

Behind Langer and Couples, John Cook and Olin Browne finished tied for third place at 2-under-par overall. Tom Watson finished fifth at plus-1. He shot 70, 70, 75 and 66 over four rounds. Tom Kite, who won the 2009 Boeing Classic in Snoqualmie, tied for eighth with Chien Soon Lu and Larry Mize. They finished at plus-3 at 283 strokes overall.

Langer was consistent all week, shooting 69, 68, 68 and 67; hitting 37 of 56 fairways; and averaging just 1.63 putts per hole, according to the tournament’s scorecard site.

“This week, I putted well,” Langer said.

The win came a week after he won the Senior British Open title.

“It’s hard to believe I just won back-to-back majors,” Langer said.

He relied on a Couples’ mistake on hole No. 2 that morning.

The two were tied at 5-under going into the final round, but on the second, Couples triple-bogeyed the par-five hole.

“The ground was hard and I just totally chunked it,” Couples said.

Despite making a birdie putt on the opening hole, Couples lost two strokes on Langer.

“Even at that point … that’s nothing when you have 16 holes to go,” Langer said after it was all said and done. “Freddy played pretty solid.”

Couples spent the rest of the day trying to make up for the lost ground on hole No. 2. He birdied Nos. 3, 14 and 16, but Langer had birdied Nos. 2 and 3 and managed another on hole No. 6, a 480-yard par-4.

“He played really well,” Couples said. “He just kept hitting it where he was supposed to.”

Langer said he didn’t mind that virtually all of the approximately 30,000 spectators that flocked to the final round rooted for Couples, who went to O’Dea High School, played at Jackson Park Golf Course and won the 1977 Washington Junior Golf Association state title.

Couples said he didn’t get to chat with fans as much as he wanted to, but he appreciated the support.

“Once we got going … it was fun listening to everyone. It was fun. They were great. They were loud,” he said. “I thought I sent them all home on the second hole, but they all stayed.”

This was only the second time Couples has played in a major tournament near his hometown, he said. After the Senior Open, he said he anticipated being back for the Boeing Classic, Aug. 23-29 at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.

“I won when they picked Sahalee,” Couples said. “I would love to get back to Sahalee before my days are done.”

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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