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Couples gets back into winner's circle



The Woodlands, TX (Sports Network) - Fred Couples fired a 29 on the back nine Sunday that turned a two-stroke deficit into a seven-shot victory at the Administaff Small Business Classic.

Couples finished with a nine-under 63 at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course and got through 54 holes at 17-under 199.

This was Couples' fourth victory this year on the Champions Tour, but his first since the Cap Cana Championship in late March.

When he started on the elder circuit this season, he flew out of the gate with three wins and a second in his first four starts. Couples hasn't exactly struggled since (his worst finish was a tie for 16th), but Sunday was his first victory in almost seven months.

"I mean, I think for me personally I knew I was going to come out here and play well," admitted Couples. "I didn't think I'd win that fast, and I won three pretty quickly and then kind of lost a few, but played well. And it's nice to win here, just to get that feeling again."

Mark Wiebe shot a one-under 71 and took second at minus-10.

Dan Forsman and Brad Bryant both posted rounds of six-under 66 on Sunday and shared third place at nine-under 207.

Second-round leader Corey Pavin struggled on the back nine and finished with a two-over 74 in the final round. The American Ryder Cup captain's bid for a first Champions Tour victory ended with a tie for fifth. Pavin came in alongside last year's winner John Cook, who had a five-under 67, at eight- under 208.

Pavin was ahead by two shots over Couples after Couples, who drew even thanks to a 10-foot eagle at six, missed the green at the par-three eighth and left with double-bogey.

Couples birdied the 11th and 12th to tie Pavin at 12-under par. After those birdies, things turned quickly in Couples' favor. He notched his second eagle of the round at 13 when he hit a six-iron to 20 feet and birdied No. 14 from eight feet. Pavin bogeyed both of those holes and Couples was now in front.

In a four-hole span, Couples went from two behind to five ahead.

"I have no explanation except that I hit the ball very, very well, and I made a lot of putts," he said.

Couples didn't stop there. He birdied the par-three 16th from off the green and added a final birdie at the closing hole to earn the blowout victory.

"I played very, very well yesterday, like I said and I just felt like I would play good today," said Couples. "The putting was crazy. I've never made that many putts."

Tom Pernice, Jr. (68) and Jay Don Blake (69) shared seventh at minus-seven, followed by Loren Roberts (67), David Frost (68), Larry Mize (70) and Tom Lehman (71). That group finished at six-under 210.

NOTES: Couples' first-place check of $255,000 inched him closer to money leader Bernhard Langer, who tied for 13th...This week was Kenny Perry's Champions Tour debut and after a two-under 70 on Sunday, he tied for 35th at plus-one...Steve Lowery also debuted this week and his even-par 72 in the final round got him into a tie for 21st at minus-two...Next week is the final full-field event of the year, the AT&T Championship, which was won in 2009 by Phil Blackmar.

10/24 20:55:24 ET


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