Stats & Info: Fred Couples

Top things to know: The Presidents Cup

October, 2, 2013

Stan Badz/PGA/Getty ImagesThe U.S. has won 7 of the first 9 President Cups, including all 5 at home.
The Presidents Cup tees off starting tomorrow from the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

We take a look at some of the top storylines.

1. The United States has dominated The Presidents Cup over the years, winning outright seven of the nine times it’s been contested. The U.S. is a perfect 5-0 when the event has been held on American soil.

We might know who will win this event by the end of the first day. In the history of The Presidents Cup, the team with the Day 1 lead has won seven of the nine times.

Three times the U.S. has gotten out to a five-point lead, and twice the International squad has been shut out after the first day of competition.

2. Muirfield Village Golf Club hosts this event for the first time. It’s the same course that hosts the Memorial Tournament each year, where Tiger Woods has won five times (in 14 career starts).

In fact, 23 of the 24 players on these teams have played the course in tournament competition, with Hideki Matsuyama being the lone exception.

3. Tiger Woods enters this year’s event tied with Jim Furyk for the most match wins (20) in U.S. team history. He has also provided the winning point in each of the last two Presidents Cups.

Tiger has been fairly dominant in singles play at this event, winning five of his seven career singles matches.

He’s also been strong in foursome matches (alternate-shot), especially compared to the Ryder Cup, where that has been his worst format.

Tiger has come away with 75 percent of the possible points in his 14 foursome matches in The Presidents Cup, while he’s collected less than half that rate in the Ryder Cup.

4. Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was still an amateur at the University of Texas last fall, will make his Presidents Cup debut, the youngest player ever to compete for the United States. He’s one of four first-timers on the U.S. team, joining Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker.

5. American captain Fred Couples will try to win a third Presidents Cup, which would set a record for a captain for either team in this event’s history.

Under Couples’ leadership, the United States has outscored the International team by nine points over the last two events.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

Fred Couples
1. OLD AND YOUNG ATOP THE LEADERBOARD: Fred Couples and Jason Dufner enter the weekend as co-leaders at the 2012 Masters Tournament. At 52 years old, Couples is the oldest player to ever hold the 36-hole lead at the Masters. Dufner, who has yet to win on the PGA TOUR in 161 career starts, has held a share of the lead in three of the last five rounds at the majors.

2. WOODS STRUGGLES AT MASTERS: Tiger Woods carded a 3-over 75, his worst second-round score at the Masters. It also tied his second-worst score as a pro at the Masters. Woods failed to birdie a par five Friday, his third round at the Masters in which he failed to birdie a par five (fourth Round in 2008, first Round in 2003). Woods has never won a major when outside the top-five through 36 holes.

3. WEAVER MAKES UP FOR PUJOLS' DONUT: In his much-anticipated Los Angeles Angels debut, Albert Pujols went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He was the lone Angels starter without a hit. But the Angels still won on the strength of Jered Weaver and his eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance. FROM ELIAS: Weaver is only the third pitcher since 1900 to throw at least eight scoreless innings with 10 or more strikeouts and no walks on opening day (Bob Gibson, 1967 (9 IP, 0 R, 13 K) and Chris Short, 1968 (9 IP, 0 R, 10 K).

4. BATTLE FOR BEST RECORD GETS EVEN TIGHTER: The San Antonio Spurs extended their win streak to 10 with a 128-103 win against the New Orleans Hornets. It’s their second win streak of at least 10 games this season (won 11 straight previously), and the second consecutive season in which San Antonio tallied multiple double-digit win streaks. In Indiana, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Indiana Pacers, creating co-leaders atop the Western Conference for the first time since January 6 (Thunder were tied with the Denver Nuggets).

5. A TON AT STAKE ON FINAL DAY OF NHL REGULAR SEASON: Saturday marks the final day in the NHL’s regular season. All 16 playoff spots are accounted for, with seeding still to be determined. The wildest race is in the Pacific Division, where the Phoenix Coyotes lead the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks by a point. Phoenix has never won a division title since joining the NHL as the 'original' Winnipeg Jets in 1979. The Presidents’ Trophy is also up for grabs, with the New York Rangers owning the tiebreaker over the Vancouver Canucks should the teams finish the regular season tied in points. And Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning (59 goals) will try to become the 39th player in NHL history to score 60 goals in a season.
AP Photo/David J. PhillipFred Couples, who has the best career average at the Masters among golfers with at least 100 rounds, is in position to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his 1992 title with another green jacket.
The leader board firmed up early in the second round at Augusta, as the seven players who finished at 4-under par or better through 36 holes started in the first 15 groups. The result was a Masters record-tying seven golfers within one shot of the lead after two rounds.

This is the seventh time in Masters history that five or more golfers are within one shot of the lead through 36 holes. In the six previous instances, the eventual winner came from that group.

Sixty-three players made the cut this year, tied for the second-most at the Masters, trailing 1966 by a single golfer. The other time that exactly 63 players made the cut was 1992 – current co-leader Fred Couples won that year.

Looking at the Co-leaders
Couples and Jason Dufner are tied atop the leader board at 5-under par.

Couples, 52, is looking to become the oldest winner of a major championship. Julius Boros was 48 years old when he won the PGA Championship in 1968. The oldest Masters winner was Jack Nicklaus, who donned the green jacket at 46 after winning in 1986.

Couples entered this year's Masters with the best career scoring average among players with at least 100 rounds. He has had success recently as well. Since 2010, only Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood have a better scoring average at the Masters than Couples among players to play all three years.

Dufner has never won on the PGA TOUR, but has finished in the top-five in two of his last four starts in a major. He lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley at last year’s PGA Championship.

Three players have won the Masters as their first career PGA TOUR victory, including Charl Schwartzel last year.

The chasers
The quantity atop the leader board is also high quality.

Rory McIlroy, who won last year’s U.S. Open, is one shot back. Since the 2010 Masters, he has finished 12 rounds in the top-five at majors and eight as either the leader or co-leader.

Also at 4-under are perpetual bridesmaids Westwood and Sergio Garcia. The two have combined for 29 top-10 finishes in majors without a victory. Westwood has finished second twice at Augusta, and Garcia has finished as runner-up in three majors.

Multiple major winners Vijay Singh and Mickelson lurk three shots behind the leaders; past Open Championship winners Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Lawrie are in the top-10.

Tiger drops off pace
Tiger Woods shot a 75 on Friday, his worst second-round score at the Masters and tied for his second-worst score as a pro at Augusta. Woods failed to birdie a par-5 on Friday, just the third time he has failed to do so during the Masters.

Tiger has never won a major when outside the top-five or with a score worse than 2-under through 36 holes.

Looking ahead to Saturday
The only Masters champion in the last 25 years who was not inside the top-10 after 36 holes was Schwartzel last year.

The largest comeback at the Masters after the second round is eight strokes, by Jack Burke in 1956.

Only one 36-hole leader has won the Masters in the last six years. Trevor Immelman shot a third-round 69 in 2008 on his way to victory.