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Couples Becomes the Green Keeper : Golf: He earns big money for third consecutive week by winning Shark Shootout by one stroke with Faxon.

November 21, 1994|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A golf course, a bank lobby, it's all the same for Fred Couples these days. Call it perfect timing.

There's absolutely no money like the kind of money they're throwing around today in the made-for-television segment of the pro golf tour, the one brought to you by Fred Couples, directed by Fred Couples, starring Fred Couples.

He spent Sunday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, dropping putts and picking up $300,000, which he split with partner Brad Faxon after they shot 58 and won the Franklin Funds Shark Shootout by one stroke.

"It was fun," Couples said.

In reality, it's sort of a Fred World right now.

Let's check the bank statement.

Two weeks ago, Couples collected $250,000 by winning the World Cup in Puerto Rico, playing with Davis Love III. Last week, Couples made $180,000 after winning at Kapalua, Hawaii.

Add his $150,000 share of the winners' purse Sunday, and Couples has made $580,000 the last three weeks.

This makes Couples the official leader in the unofficial money sweepstakes.

Sure, it's a fair amount, acknowledged Couples, who in three weeks on the special event circuit has almost matched the $625,654 he earned this year in 15 events on the PGA Tour.

"I don't want to say I'm Jack Nicklaus, but when you win they give you money," Couples said.

"Nowadays, it's a lot of money. Let's put it this way. I would certainly be disappointed if I finished second and still got a lot of money."

The second-place check went to Curtis Strange and Mark O'Meara, who split $170,000 after shooting 58 on Sunday.

They even led, briefly, after they birdied the 17th hole to take a one-shot lead while Couples and Faxon were at No. 15.

But Couples rolled in a 12-footer for a birdie on the par-three 15th, then made a 10-footer for eagle on the par-five 16th.

The 58 from the Couples-Faxon duo was three short of the Shootout record for the scramble day of competition and their 72-hole score of 190 is eight shots off the tournament record, but who's counting?

Couples and Faxon have other things to count. They probably did it on their way to Las Vegas, where they decided to celebrate.

The way things are going for Couples, it's probably the perfect place to be right about now.

*

Greg Norman, who left Sunday night for a vacation in Australia, won't be taking part in a meeting between officials of the PGA Tour and World Golf Tour on Tuesday in Florida.

John Montgomery Jr., executive director of the new tour, said in a statement Sunday he was encouraged by the PGA Tour's willingness to negotiate some sort of working arrangement. The World Tour, to which the PGA Tour is opposed, is scheduled to begin in 1995 with eight $3-million tournaments, four in the United States. The eight events are to be televised by Fox.

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