Fred Couples birdied his final seven holes Sunday to shoot a 12-under-par 60 and run away with the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.
Couples, 63, came up just shy of shooting only the second round of 59 in PGA Tour Champions history. Kevin Sutherland (2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open) remains the only player to shoot 59 on the 50-and-older circuit.
Couples — who entered the day tied for the lead with South Korea’s Y.E. Yang — wrapped up the event at 20-under 196, beating New Zealand’s Steven Alker by six strokes.
“It’s easy to say because we’re standing here, but I think it’s the best round I’ve ever played,” Couples said. “I hit a few loose shots, you know, got away from them, but I made so many putts.”
Couples said he’d shot 58 and 59 before, though never in a tournament setting. This was also his first time breaking his age on tour.
Couples also finished the front nine with five consecutive birdies. He hit what he called a “crappy” shot on No. 10 into a hazard, but he saved par from roughly 30 feet.
“Then I just started making putts,” he said.
The SAS Championship was the tour’s regular-season finale, and although Couples earned enough money to qualify for the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, he said he was done playing for the year.
“It’s my last tournament, so I just kind of had Griffin Flesch, Steve Flesch’s son, caddie and he said, ‘You better have your A game,'” Couples said. “I said, ‘I don’t know if I have any game,’ and six days later we won.”
Alker, who will enter the playoffs No. 1 in the standings, shot a final-round 64 by matching Couples’ 7-under 30 on the back nine via five birdies and an eagle.
“I’d rather be here than behind,” Alker said. “I don’t know how much I’m going to have going in, but with double points (in playoff events) and everything coming up, as much as I can is always good.”
Jerry Kelly (67 Sunday) placed third at 12 under. Rocco Mediate (68) finished fourth at 11 under.
Behind Alker, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker, Kelly and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez round out the top five in the Schwab Cup standings entering next week’s first leg, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. The top 72 players in the regular-season standings qualify for the playoffs.
–Field Level Media