Contributed by GlobalGolfPost
In his first attempt at the Senior Open Championship, Fred Couples achieved what he could not on the PGA Tour – he takes home a claret jug. It’s not the same jug that Ernie Els won two weeks ago, but it’s the next best thing.
Couples closed out his final round with two consecutive birdies to break a tie with Gary Hallberg and win the Senior Open at Turnberry, site of many historic moments in major championship history.
Couples now has his own. The victory was his eighth Champions Tour victory and his second major championship, having won the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship last year. And the win is his second of the year on Tour.
Couples broke a tie with Hallberg when he two-putted from 35 feet for birdie at the par-5 17th after Hallberg made a birdie of his own there to forge the tie. Couples hit the par-4 18th with a 3-wood and a sand wedge and needed but two putts to win. However, his putt from 30 feet found the center of the hole for the final margin.
The winner shot a 3-under 67 in the final round to post 72 holes at Turnberry at 9-under 271, which included a 6-under 64 in the third round.
Beginning the day at Turnberry, Couples found himself in the final pairing, one shot behind 54-hole leader Bernhard Langer. The whole tournament turned in one hole, the par-4 12th. Couples hit his approach in close for birdie, but inexplicably, Langer suffered a double-bogey and surrendered the lead for good.
“That was a big swing and I looked at the board and Gary Hallberg was making a couple birdies so there was no time to relax,” Couples said.
And, indeed, Hallberg was coming fast. Hallberg had led after 36 holes when he posted a 7-under 63, the best round of the championship. But he stumbled back in the pack after a third-round 73 and was four back of the lead coming into the final day. But he turned the outward half in 2-under 33 and birdied the 13th to get to 6 under. He temporarily tied Couples at the 17th with a two-putt birdie from about 30 feet.
For the second straight senior major championship, Langer lost a final-round lead. At the U.S. Senior Open, he led by four in the final round only to lose to Roger Chapman. He led on Sunday after the front nine but went 5 over in a five-hole stretch starting with the double-bogey at the 13th and stumbled to a 75 in the final round.
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