A few weeks ago it was supposed in this space that 2010 would be the break-out year in professional golf for Pierce County product Ryan Moore. Instead, Spokane native Alex Prugh has been the standout Washington golfer on the PGA tour, winning more than 600 grand during a half-dozen events.
But "The Man" among state-bred golfers is twice the age of University of Washington-veteran Prugh. Some might insist on dubbing Fred Couples "The Old Man" unless they've seen the way the 50-year-old has been playing.
Couples won his second of three Champions (nee Seniors) Tour events Sunday (March 7). His four-stroke margin earned him about a quarter-million: one-fourth of what winners pocket on the PGA Tour.
But Couples doesn't seem to need the dough. What the Champions Tour wins have done is instill in the gifted golfer greater confidence than he's exhibited in years.
Couples' career often has been less about "exhibit" than "inhibit," his chronic back problems no doubt limiting his achievements, which include just one major victory (the '92 Masters) and 14 other tour wins.
Lately he's been playing as though he's at Seattle'ês Interbay pitch-putt layout while the others on the Champions Tour are at Sahalee. Couples leads the senior tour in driving distance, a prodigious 300-plus-yard average. But it's his wedge play that has tongues wagging.
Sunday on the back nine at Newport Beach Country Club, Couples stuck a couple of wedge shots within tap-in range. His weekend scores (the "Champions" play three-day tourneys rather than four, which is the PGA-tour norm) were 66, 64 and 65.
Some wonder whether Couples, the captain of last year's successful U.S. Presidents Cup contingent, still has a few great major-tournament moments in him. Few would be surprised, especially given the example of Tom Watson coming within a stroke of winning the British Open last year at age 59.
It was Watson, spry at 60, who defeated Couples by a stroke at January's initial Champions event.