On the PGA Tour Champions, the 11th hour comes two weeks before the event when it comes to a golfer deciding to play in that tournament.
Fred Couples' commitment to the American Family Insurance Championship hours before the 78-golfer field was set created a great deal of excitement. And that was saying something since it also came on the eve of U.S. Open Championship week in Wisconsin, as most eyes were glued to Erin Hills.
However, his willingness to make his debut at University Ridge GC in Madison came with a caveat. If his back was healthy enough to tee it up, he would.
Oh, it was healthy alright.
Couples shot 67-66 in his first two trips over the Robert Trent Jones, Jr., layout, earning him a spot in the penultimate group in the final round with reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers and tournament host Steve Stricker. He birdied six of his first 11 holes on the final day en route to a 6-under-par 66 that left him with a two-stroke victory over Scott Verplank.
Stricker birdied two of his last three holes to shoot 69 and finish tied for third. But as thrilled as he was to play well in his own tournament in the first year he was eligible, he was even more trilled his recruiting efforts to get Couples to play in the Am Fam Championship led to him winning the whole thing, a feat Wisconsin.Golf makes the No. 6 story in our top 17 stories of 2017.
As the 78-golfer field is finalized Friday, the 15-time PGA Tour winner gives yet another boost to a field that features nine prominent first-time participants, including Madison's Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly.
Couples, who hasn’t played since finishing tied for 13th place May 7 at the Insperity Invitational in Houston, makes his Am Fam debut at No. 5 on the Charles Schwab Cup money list.
Couples played flawless golf over the last 18 holes -- he went bogey-free over the final 28 -- and shot a 6-under-par 66 to stride past second-round leader Paul Broadhurst and edge runner-up Scott Verplank (69) for his second win of 2017 and fifth multi-win season since turning 50 in 2010.