Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Rookie Ames wins Skins Game, US$595,000 prize

AP , LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA

Fred Funk, left, wearing a bib normally used by John Daly's caddy, tries to hand Daly a very short club for his drive on the 11th hole on the second day of the Skins Game tournament at Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, California, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Skins Game rookie Stephen Ames rolled in a 1m birdie putt on the third playoff hole on Sunday for US$270,000 that gave him the championship with a total of US$590,000 in earnings.

Fred Couples, who has won the Skins Game five times in 13 appearances, finished second with US$385,000 to run his career Skins earnings to US$3.9 million. Although he didn't win this time, Couples played the best golf of the foursome, with 10 birdies and an eagle over 20 holes.

John Daly won US$25,000 during the first hole of the two-day, 18-hole event, then didn't win another skin.

With the field trimmed to an Ames-Daly twosome by the third playoff hole, Daly drove into a fairway bunker to essentially end his chances.

Fred Funk, who took the title with a rookie record US$925,000 last year, was shut out in his second try.

Funk, who wore a skirt on the third hole last year after Annika Sorenstam outdrove him, played a few practical jokes this time, including replacing Daly's ball on the sixth green with a remote-control ball that lurched back and forth, then served as Daly's caddy on the 12th tee, when he handed him a huge wedge and a child's 9-iron.

Funk and Daly also teed off at the same time, side by side, on No. 16, chuckling almost the entire time.

Ames, the first touring pro from Trinidad and Tobago, made his Skins Game debut after winning The Players Championship earlier this year.

The 42-year-old Ames, the junior participant in this year's Skins foursome, made US$250,000 with a 0.3m birdie on No. 12, then rolled in a 5m putt for another birdie and US$70,000 on No. 13.

Daly's tee shot on the third playoff hole, the par-4, 405m No. 2 at Trilogy Golf Club, lodged deep in the sand, just below the lip of the bunker. Another 0.3m on his drive would have cleared it.

He hit out of the sand and into the fairway and Ames tucked his approach within 3 feet of the pin. Daly finally tapped in for a bogey before Ames sank his putt.

Skins takes on a new wrinkle in overtime: If a hole is tied, only the low scorers remain in the hunt. Ames and Daly each birdied the second playoff hole with putts from about 1.5m to eliminate Couples and Funk.

After Couples' eagle putt on the final hole of regulation trickled just over the edge of the cup, Daly left a 3m eagle putt just centimeters to the right on the first playoff hole at No. 18.

All four players tied with birdies on the first playoff hole.

Couples, who topped the earnings the first day with US$175,000, added US$140,000 when he won the 15th hole with a 1.5m birdie putt, and US$70,000 more with an 2.5m eagle putt on No. 16.

Blanked the first day, Ames earned a quarter of a million dollars after hitting his wedge within 0.3m of the pin on the par-4, 355m No. 12. He quickly picked up another US$70,000 on the next hole.

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