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Couples increases his Skins Games bankroll

Fred Couples, Skins Game
Chris Carlson/AP
Couples sunk a bunker shot on the fourth hole for eagle.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Fred Couples knows one good shot can make a huge difference in the Skins Game.

After bouncing his drive off a spectator's bag and into the fairway and hitting his second shot into a bunker behind the green, Couples knocked his 35-yard shot out of the sand and into the hole to win $75,000 on Saturday.

"I don't think I played particularly well, but I did hole a shot," he said after taking the first day lead in the LG Skins Game.

His eagle on the par-5, 501-yard fourth hole was worth three skins because the previous two holes were tied.

"He got rewarded for hitting a great shot," defending champion Stephen Ames said.

The 48-year-old Couples hadn't played competitively for almost eight months because of back trouble.

"I'm very rusty, but excited to play," he said.

Ames was the only other player to win a skin over the first nine holes of the two-day, 18-hole event. He picked up $25,000 by making a 6-footer for birdie on the first hole.

Skins Game rookies Zach Johnson, this year's Masters champion, and Brett Wetterich were shut out.

"I think Zach and I are just waiting for the next nine holes; that's when all the big money comes up," Wetterich quipped.

The players usually are more relaxed on the first day of the tournament, joking and laughing, but things tend to get quieter when the big money is at stake on the second day.

Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen, provided some fun on No. 9 when he pretended he was going to putt with a hockey stick. Couples joined in, waving his putter to challenge the hockey player.

Johnson said he didn't feel he needed to provide any levity.

"My wife says I'm not funny, so the pressure's off," he said, smiling.

He had several putts rim out of the cup, often shaking his head and grimacing.

The made-for-TV event is in its 25th year, and Couples is playing for the 14th time. He's the five-time tournament champion and has won 89 skins and more than $3.9 million, all topping the Skins Game list.

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