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EXCERPT | April 8, 1996
Easy As T-P-C
Laid-back Fred Couples cruised to victory at Sawgrass
Trailing journeyman Tommy Tolles by four strokes entering the final round of the Players Championship, Couples shot 64 to win his first PGA Tour event in two years. Rick Reilly reported for SI.
You get the feeling Fred Couples rolls out of bed looking like Dr. Cliff Truelove on Days of Our Children. He is the sort who could make a Hefty 40-gallon trash bag look like something by After Six. Happy and unhurriable, he is a kind of Winnie the Pooh in cleats, ambling along, life coming easily and in bunches. His swing is slower than the last day of school, holes jump in the way of his golf balls, and money knocks on doors to find him. He is allergic to practice yet has 17 tournament wins worldwide, including a Masters.
Tommy Tolles, on the other hand, looks like a walking antacid commercial. He is only 29, but his worried, coal-black eyes are dark-rimmed, and his eyebrows bend toward his nose like a stock-market plunge. Clothes hang awkwardly on his flagstick body, and he has a barber-school haircut that gives him that just-shaved Anthony Perkins look. He must practice constantly, has won the Nike Ozarks Classic and last year finished 116th on the Tour money list. Before that he spent seven years trying to scrape out a living on the discount tours with a frenetic swing that ends up with his arms wrapped around him like a straitjacket. If rain is expected, it will fall on Tommy Tolles.
Yet there they were on Sunday, golf's Cary Grant and Arnold Stang, one shot apart with three holes to play at the year's biggest tournament so far, the near-major cashfest known as the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Couples has 15 PGA wins; Tolles—last on Tour in 2005—has none.
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TUNE IN TO THE PLAYERS.
Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller have the call from Ponte Vedra on Saturday and Sunday (2 to 7 p.m. EDT, both days), as Henrik Stenson looks to defend his 2009 title. For video of the 1996 Players, won by Fred Couples, go to si.com/vault
Photograph by JACQUELINE DUVOISIN
STILL WATERS After coolly draining a 25-foot eagle putt to take a one-stroke lead, Couples had the gallery's undivided attention when he teed off at 17.
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LOU CAPOZZOLA (HALAK)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (DERBY)
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AL TIELEMANS (ZITO)
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