Stephen Ames chuckled about his mostly mediocre 18 holes of golf. He can laugh all the way to the bank.
With $650,000 at stake on No. 18, Ames coolly knocked his seven-foot birdie putt into the center of the cup Sunday to win the Skins Game at Indian Wells. The only other hole he won was the first, a day earlier.
"That's the nature of the Skins Game," Ames said. "It's always been the way you play at the Skins Game.
"You kind of let the other guys beat themselves up and then you sneak in there when you need to."
Taking the title for the second year in a row, Ames finished with nine skins and $675,000 of the $1-million purse.
Five-time champion Fred Couples, playing in the 25-year-old tournament for the 14th time, also won nine skins, pocketing $325,000 to push his career earnings in the made-for-TV event to more than $4.2 million.
"Somebody's going to birdie the 18th hole, probably, and Stephen did it to win a big, big, big skin," Couples said. "If you win the right holes, you win money."
Couples won three skins and $75,000 on the first day with a bunker shot into the hole for an eagle on No. 4, then picked up $250,000 with a five-footer for birdie on No. 10 to begin the second day.
Brett Wetterich and Masters champion Zach Johnson, making their Skins Game debuts, were shut out.
"I certainly enjoyed the experience and playing with these three guys," Johnson said. "It's a very unique event. It's nothing like I've ever been familiar with."
Said Wetterich: "I just feel bad for the charity I was trying to play for. I feel worse about that than anything else."
Each player donates 20% of his winnings to a charity of his choice, and Wetterich had picked Big Oak Ranch. Ames' donation will go to the Ames Foundation, and Couples' to California wildfires victims.