Fred Couples wins Senior British Open

Fred Couples won the Senior British Open by two strokes ahead of fellow American Gary Hallberg on Sunday after holing a 25-foot putt to finish with consecutive birdies.

The 1992 Masters champion shot a three-under 67 for a total of nine-under 271 on the Ailsa course and win his first tournament in Britain. Hallberg hit a 66, equalling the best round of the day with Carl Mason of England and Mark Calcavecchia of the United States.

English pair Barry Lane (69) and Mason and Dick Mast of the United States (67) were a further three shots back. Overnight leader Bernhard Langer dropped five shots in five holes on the way home to shoot a 75 and slip into a share of sixth place.

“I’ve never won an Open Championship, so this is the next best thing. And I believe I now get into the Open at Muirfield next year, which is great,” Couples said.

“It was a fun day out there. Bernhard and I were neck and neck for a long time. Then I saw Gary had birdied the 17th to draw level, so I knew I needed to birdie 17. I hit a couple of great shots down 17 and two-putted for birdie, then the hole got in the way for my birdie putt at 18.

“It’s my biggest senior tour win by far on a truly great golf course. I can now say I won the Senior British Open at Turnberry in really challenging weather.”

Couples was locked in a struggle with Langer until the German double-bogeyed No. 12 and Couples birdied for a three-shot swing. Langer then Langer bogeyed three holes in a row from No. 14 to slip out of contention.

Hallberg posted the best round of the tournament with a 63 on Friday before following that up with a 73 in the third.

On Sunday, he made six birdies and didn’t drop a shot. Calcavecchia had four birdies and no dropped shots, while Mason had three birdies, an eagle and dropped just one shot.

Tom Watson closed with a 69, his third sub-par round of the tournament, to share 10th place on 279.

“I played with Carl Mason and he played a wonderful round of golf. I played well and I love being back at Turnberry,” Watson said. “It has had a lot of significance for me in my career.”

Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open at Turnberry in what was known as the “Duel in the Sun.” He also beat Mason in a 2010 playoff at Turnberry to win the first of his three Senior British Open titles.

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