Couch wins Zurich Classic

Unheralded Chris Couch chipped in for par at the last to seal a memorable one-shot victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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New Orleans:

Pouring rain delayed the start of the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, but once play got underway it was riveting. One of the form players this season, Stuart Appleby, continued his solid play with a closing 64. The highlight of his round was an eagle-three at the sixth, where the Australian holed his pitch shot. Appleby finished in a tie for fourth place on 15 under par with Brett Wetterich and Joe Durant. Appleby and the rest of the field chased overnight leader Chris Couch all day. Couch started strongly. He chipped in for birdie on the third hole, one of six he carded on the front nine. Lucas Glover made a great run in his final round, shooting a 63, one of the top rounds of the day. Ultimately, though, that was only good enough for a share of seventh place on 14 under. Masters champion Phil Mickelson had an up-and-down round. He sank a long birdie putt on the 10th hole that just fell in, but two bogeys and a double bogey later in the round dropped him out of contention. Mickelson finished tie-15th. Durant recovered from a third round of 73 to shoot a closing 68. His birdie on the 11th was one of four in a round that had no bogeys. Durant, though, eventually had to settle for a share of fourth place. It was Couch who set the standard on the final day. The Florida native sank his seventh birdie of his round on the 12th hole with a putt that just dropped in. Fred Funk did not have that kind of luck on the 13th hole. His long eagle putt to tie Couch came to a rest on the edge of the cup. He had to settle for a birdie and at that stage trailed by one shot. Also in the hunt was Charles Howell III. He moved to 18 under par on the 13th with a tricky downhill putt. After a bogey on the 16th, Funk arrived at the 18th one shot behind Howell, but drew level once again by nailing a long putt that drew a massive ovation from the gallery. Funk still trailed Couch by a stroke, but looked like he might join him at the top of the leaderboard when Couch found the rough next to the 18th green, with his third shot. But, as if on cue, Couch produced a moment of brilliance to chip in with an amazing shot. A playoff was still possible between Couch and Howell, but the latter's birdie attempt stopped just short of the cup, sealing the win for Couch. Couch became the fourth player to make the cut on the number and still go on to win the same PGA Tour tournament. (AP)