Couples goes clear to deny Montgomerie

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie's late charge up the leaderboard at the US PGA Players' Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida ended in failure last night as Fred Couples won the tournament with a final round of 64.

Having started his challenge with a 66 in the third round on Saturday, the Scot had moved into a three-way tie for the lead with Couples and another American, Tommy Tolles, midway through the final round.

Couples, however, moved three shots clear of his rivals with an eagle at the 16th and a birdie at the 17th. Montgomerie's challenge effectively ended at the 16th, when he hit an approach from 230 yards into water and then missed a 10ft putt to save his par. Montgomerie had a bogey on the last hole to end in joint second place with Tolles on 14 under after a round of 68. They finished four strokes behind Couples, whose 64 was the best final round in the tournament's history.

Montgomerie started the day four strokes off the lead but continued his charge with an eagle and three birdies in the first nine holes as he moved from 10 under par to 15 under.

A brave gamble on the par five 11th might have given Montgomerie the outright lead. He used his driver from the fairway in an attempt to reach the green, but the ball finished in a bunker and the Scot had to settle for a par five.

Couples missed two 3ft putts in three holes, but a birdie at the 12th put him into the joint lead. Tolles, the early leader, saved par with two 4ft putts early on, but showed the first signs of strain when he put his second shot into a bunker on the par five ninth. A poor recovery shot cost him his third bogey of the week.

n Britain's Laura Davies shot a second successive 70 to move within striking distance of the leaders in the Nabisco Dinah Shore LPGA Championship at Rancho Mirage, California. Scores, Digest, page 19