Submitted by George Hines
(Well I knew this might happen playing the tourney before the actual one but here goes. Fred Couples withdrew from the Players after I played my version. I think he has played in 27 of these tournaments won in ’84 and ’96. You can add 2012 to his history at the Players. He adds his name to Jack Nicklaus the only other three time winner who won all his back in the 1970’s. Fred won his over four decades. Well on with the story.)
The 39th Players Championship got underway on Thursday playing conditions at Sawgrass were normal to hard with PGA rough playing in moderate to calm winds. KJ Choi was the 2011 Champion but was not a factor in 2012. The Top 3 and ties had a decided international flair Rod Pampling, Australia; Martin Laird,Scotland;Graeme McDowell,Northern Ireland broke on top with 67’s. Ricky Barnes,USA; and Jhonathan Vegas, Venezuela in 2nd place with 68’s. Geoff Ogilvy, Australia; Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa; Fred Couples,USA; and Keegan Bradley, USA gathered in 3rd place with 69’s.
Graeme McDowell took over as the leader on Friday by 2 strokes at -8. Rod Pampling joined four other golfers dropping 2 strokes in 2nd. David Toms climbed 17 spots with a -5 round to join Rod in 2nd at -6. Scott VerPlank and Chad Campbell both were -4 for the day and finished in 2nd together at -6. Fred Couples joined the group at 2nd from a 3rd place 1st round. Finally in third on the second day was Sergio Garcia climbing 25 spots with his -5 round at -5. David Duval, former champion along with Sergio with -3 finished at -5. Martin Laird fell from first with an even round at -5 while Ricky Barnes fell from 2nd on Thursday to third with a -1 round at -5.
With half the field gone including Tiger Woods. Fred Couples took over the lead with a -7, 65 round rolling to -13. David Duval pulled into 2nd with a -5 round at -10. Sergio Garcia and David Toms was two strokes back of 2nd at -8. So this set up Sundays action. David Toms the only none previous winner finishing runner up in 2011 with three former champions.
Fred Couples winner of the 2012 Players Championship a three time winner of this event pulled even with Jack Nicklaus for tourney wins. David Duval could not keep up with the -5 round that Couples had but -3 and five strokes back. In third with another -3 round finished at -11 for the tourney.