Fred Couples is a Seattle native who learned the game at a local muny, Jefferson Park Golf Course, where most summer days he and a friend would sneak on through a hole in the fence to avoid paying green fees they couldn’t afford. The citizens, had they been aware, would have forgiven him. But has the game?
It has been a long quest for Couples to win a professional tour event in the region and he has yet to do so, even after taking a five-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Boeing Classic at the TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge about 25 miles west of Jefferson Park.
Couples, with a huge throng following him, shot a four-over par 76 and lost to Brandt Jobe, who closed with a nine-under par 63 for his second PGA Tour Champions victory.
Jobe, 54, began the final round seven shots back of Couples, a deficit he erased with a front-nine 30. He took the lead with a birdie at 14, then birdied the final two holes to finish at 18-under par 198, three ahead of Tom Pernice. Couples finished tied for third, six back of Jobe.
“It just kind of started on one,” Jobe said. “I birdied the first five holes and all of a sudden, I’m like, alright, that’s a nice start, but I really thought we were all playing for second. If Freddie goes out and does what he normally does we’re playing for second. I kind of looked at the turn, saw what was going on and thought, well, at least maybe I can put some pressure on him and things worked out for me.”
Couples, meanwhile, had shot his own 63 a day earlier, his round even including a hole-in-one, at the ninth hole, with a 4-iron from 203 yards.
“Tomorrow’s going to be a great day,” he said after his round. “We’ll see. These guys aren’t far behind. They’re all five and six under, so I’m going to have to shoot whatever I have to shoot. I don’t want to win by one, I would like to win by nine. That would be easier.”
Nothing was easy for Couples on Sunday, resulting in yet another disappointing homecoming.
The PGA Tour only came to the Seattle area once during Couples’ long PGA Tour career, in 2002, for the WGC-NEC Invitational at Sahalee Country Club. He did not play. The PGA Championship was played at Sahalee in 1998 and Couples tied for 13th.
His best chance prior to Sunday’s final round came in the 2010 U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee, when Couples and Bernhard Langer entered the final round tied for the lead. Langer closed with a 67 to Couples’ 70.
He has finished third in the Boeing Classic on three occasions, and as he closes in on his 60th birthday is likely running out chances.