Cou­ples join­ing Clas­sic field

Cou­ples con­firms en­try in next week’s Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic golf tour­na­ment

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS­TEN ANDERSON kan­der­[email protected]­media.com

The play­ing field of the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic just be­came a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing.

Fred Cou­ples an­nounced that he is re­turn­ing to Cal­gary next week to round out one of the deep­est fields on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons cal­en­dar.

Bat­tling back is­sues on and off for the last 25 years, the 58-yearold has proven time and time again that when he is healthy, he is still one of the most ex­cit­ing golfers in the world.

“Cal­gary has been a very en­joy­able place for me,” Cou­ples said. “I’ve al­ways said, as long as I’m healthy, I plan on com­ing here every year. The people at Shaw are in­cred­i­ble. The crowds are huge. The course is al­ways in great shape. And I feel like I can play it well.

“There is noth­ing more a player could ask for. I look for­ward to get­ting back there.”

Cou­ples won the 2014 event in thrilling fashion af­ter a ca­reer-best fi­nal round of 61 that in­cluded a chip-in ea­gle on the 54th hole.

The vic­tory came down to the wire, too, as he cap­tured the first play­off hole over Billy An­drade, the lone play­off fin­ish in the award­win­ning event’s short his­tory.

This year’s event — which runs from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2 at Canyon Mead­ows Golf & Coun­try Club — fea­tures one of the most im­pres­sive fields of com­pe­ti­tion to date.

Cou­ples joins fel­low World Golf Hall of Fame mem­bers al­ready com­mit­ted in­clud­ing Bern­hard Langer, Davis Love III, Colin Mont­gomerie, Mark O’Meara and Vi­jay Singh.

The four other Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic cham­pi­ons join­ing Cou­ples in Cal­gary in­clude Rocco Me­di­ate (2013), Jeff Mag­gert (2015), Car­los Franco (2016) and de­fend­ing champ Scott McCar­ron (2017).

No­table mem­bers of the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons in­clude Dar­ren Clarke and Chris DiMarco.

Other no­ta­bles in­clude Fred Funk, Jes­per Parnevik, Miguel An­gel Jimenez, Steve Flesch, Lee Janzen and Cana­di­ans Stephen Ames and Rod Spit­tle.

In case you’re count­ing, that’s 15 PGA Tour ma­jor ti­tle wins and 46 PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons ti­tles among all of the com­peti­tors while 55 play­ers in the field have com­bined to win 309 times on the PGA Tour. Talk about a star-stud­ded field. “Adding Freddy to this in­cred­i­ble lineup of ath­letes who have all been a part of some of the great­est and most mem­o­rable mo­ments in the game de­liv­ers a boost of ex­cite­ment for us head­ing into tour­na­ment week,” said Sean Van Kesteren, tour­na­ment di­rec­tor of the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic.

Cou­ples is a win­ner of 15 PGA Tour events but, per­haps, is re­mem­bered most for his 1992 tri­umph at the Masters tour­na­ment.

Once grad­u­at­ing to the se­nior swing, he made an im­me­di­ate state­ment.

Fin­ish­ing sec­ond in his first start, he went on to win his next three events, be­com­ing the first player ever to win three of his first four tour­na­ments.

Cou­ples has two ma­jor cham­pi­onship vic­to­ries on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons: the 2011 Se­nior Play­ers Cham­pi­onship and the Se­nior Open Cham­pi­onship in 2012.

Cou­ples has not won since cap­tur­ing his 13th vic­tory on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons last year at the Chubb Clas­sic and the Amer­i­can Family In­sur­ance Cham­pi­onship and will come in fresh off his home­town event Boe­ing Clas­sic in Seat­tle.

A fan favourite wher­ever he goes, Cou­ples is en­joy­ing every minute of the 50-and-older cir­cuit.

“I thought I could play five re­ally good years on the Cham­pi­ons Tour and that would be it, but I would miss it,” he told the Seat­tle Times. “It is fun, and I en­joy it. I re­ally do.”

The field will con­sist of 78 stars on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons who are set to com­pete for a to­tal purse of US$2.35-mil­lion in a three-round, 54-hole stroke-play tour­na­ment. The win­ner re­ceives $352,500.

The an­nual PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons stop in Canada show­cases Cal­gary to the world through its broad­cast on the Golf Chan­nel and has raised more than $22 mil­lion for Al­berta chil­dren’s char­i­ties in its first five years.

This year, the Shaw Char­ity Clas­sic has set a lofty fundrais­ing goal of $10 mil­lion, which will sup­port 182 chil­dren’s char­i­ties across Al­berta. This ef­fort is made pos­si­ble thanks to re­newed sup­port from Shaw Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Al­taLink for Shaw Birdies for Kids, pre­sented by Al­taLink.

AL CHAREST/FILES

Hall of Famer Fred Cou­ples, who beat Billy An­drade in a play­off to win the 2014 Shaw Char­ity Golf Clas­sic at Canyon Mead­ows, is re­turn­ing to this year’s event, which runs from Aug. 27 to Sept. 2.

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