Couples the headliner at Boeing Classic, but Maggert on roll
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. (AP) — Fred Couples certainly looks ready for another chance at a hometown victory.
Preparing for the Boeing Classic, Couples played with a friend Wednesday at Broadmoor Golf Club in Seattle — and eagled the final hole for a course-record 59.
“When I played the 18th hole, I had no idea I was 9 under, but it was a really good day,” Couples said Thursday. “I hit the ball really well and, you know, you don’t shoot 59 very often from any tees. I was excited because I’ve had a lot of time off.”
While Couples will remain the hometown favorite any time he plays in the Seattle area, Jeff Maggert has been the hottest player on the Champions Tour. Maggert has three victories this year and is coming off a win two weeks ago in Calgary, Alberta. His other two victories were both majors, taking the Regions Tradition in May in Alabama, and the U.S. Senior Open in Sacramento, California, in June.
Of the 12 tournaments Maggert has played since the middle of February, he has finished outside the top 15 only once. Maggert, in his first full season on the Champions Tour, trails only Colin Montgomerie in the Charles Schwab Cup points race.
“I expected to play well and compete on a weekly basis. This year, obviously just has been kind of meeting a lot of those expectations,” Maggert said. “I think everyone when they turn 50, they get a little bit rejuvenated and re-motivated. The regular tour is so difficult to compete in your late 40s.”
Maggert and Couples will play with Bernhard Langer in the first round Friday at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. In his last four Champions Tour starts, Langer won the Senior Players Championship, tied for third at the U.S. Senior Open, second at the Senior British Open and tied for second at the 3M Championship in Minnesota.
“I get along with Freddie very well. I get along with most guys, but Freddie is pretty easy going,” Langer said. “We have spells during the year where you’re paired with the same guys four, five times in a row.”
One of the few absences from Couples’ resume is a victory in the Seattle area where he grew up. This will be his fifth Boeing Classic start, his highest finish being third in 2010 and 2013. He had hoped to qualify for the U.S. Open at nearby Chambers Bay, but back problems forced him to withdraw from qualifying. He has played in only six Champions Tour events this season, and only three since the Masters in April.
But Couples is playing well, as evidenced by his 59. He tied for fifth in his last two starts, including the Senior British Open. Couples’ round of 59 was his first in about 12 years, he estimated.
“I want to win every tournament I play in and that doesn’t happen and you win once in a blue moon,” Couples said. “But I would trade a lot of things to win here.”
Last year, Scott Dunlap won his first Champions Tour title, beating Mark Brooks with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.