Cheat Sheet: Can captain Couples and Rory end their 2013 slides?
By Derek Evers
What you need to know for Sunday in the world of golf
A who's who leader board in Shanghai
With 40 of the top 50 players in the world at the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai, it's a shame the television times don't work out for western viewers. In what might be one of the best leader boards this year (in a tournament that doesn't feature Tiger Woods or Adam Scott), Dustin Johnson holds a three-stroke lead over Ian Poulter, with Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Graham DeLaet and Justin Rose rounding out the top six. Throw in Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner and you have three of the past four major winners in the top 25. It may be early in the new wraparound season, but a win this week would be a nice way to end 2013, or jump start 2014, for one of the Tour's top players.
Can the captain end the year with a win?
The Charles Schwab Cup and it's $1M prize is basically a two-man race between Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer (Langer needs to win and have Perry finish outside of the top five to take it away from the regular-season points leader), but Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is bringing some extra attention to the season-ending event. Couples has had an illustrious career, but with four runner-up finishes he's winless in 2013. After back-to-back 65s, he holds a two-stroke advantage over first-round leader Peter Senior. At 54, Couples is one of the younger, not to mention most popular, players on the Champions Tour, but he hasn't won since the Senior British Open in July 2012. A win against the strongest field of the year (only the top 30 qualify) would end a great month for the fan favorite. And for those who are wondering, Langer is five strokes behind in fourth place and Kenny Perry is T-11.
Can Rory end the slump?
Sure, he "won" last week in his head-to-head matchup with Tiger Woods, but that won't show up on his tournament record, which says he's still winless in 2013 on the PGA Tour. Still, his play does seem to be coming around with that high-profile exhibition providing a spark. After an opening round 65 to take the early lead at the HSBC, he followed with a slightly disappointing 72 before recovering with a 67 to find himself T4. With such a strong field, a top five finish would be seen as a good week, but only a win will get the proverbial monkey off his back.