Golf: Couples secures play-off victory

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The Independent Online
ONE YEAR after he lost the Honda Classic to Corey Pavin in a sudden-death play-off, Fred Couples beat Robert Gamez on the second play-off hole yesterday. Couples' errors on the course made a play-off necessary, but a major mistake by Gamez ultimately decided the tournament.

After halving the first hole with pars, Gamez sent his second shot at the second hole, a par five, into the water, while Couples' approach was just six feet away. Two putts later, Couples had his first win of the year.

Couples had shot 32 on the front nine yesterday, the tournament having been reduced to three rounds after Saturday's play was abandoned because of the bad Florida weather. He had his fifth birdie of the day on the 10th. At the 12th he was 12 under, with a four- shot lead over Larry Mize. Two players were at eight under - Robert Gamez and Dick Mast. But Couples missed a three-foot birdie putt on 13, and then missed the green on 14 and dropped another shot, and his lead was down to one shot. Then Gamez edged his way past Mize and caught Couples.

Nick Faldo finished tied for 16th after an even par round of 72. Faldo played the front nine extremely well tee to green, missing no fairways or greens, but had just one good putt, a 25-footer for a birdie on the fourth hole.

Faldo said: 'I'm swinging really well. It's just the same old thing with the putter.'

Instead of staying on for the Bay Hill tournament as he had planned to, Faldo left America last night, and will return in three week in New Orleans after the birth of his third child.

HONDA CLASSIC (Weston Hills, Fort Lauderdale, Fla) Leading final scores (US unless stated). 207 R Gamez 68 71 68; F Couples 64 73 70 (Couples won at second play-off hole). 208 L Mize 69 67 72. 209 D Mast 68 69 72. 210 C Parry (Aus) 67 71 72. 211 E Dougherty 70 74 67; F Zoeller 66 75 70; M Smith 69 72 70; R Mediate 71 69 71; J McGovern 71 69 71; S Pate 68 71 72; D Frost (S Afr) 68 69 74. GB: 213 N Faldo 69 72 72.