KAANAPALI, Hawaii (AP) — Fuzzy Zoeller knows that timing is everything in the Champions Skins Game.
“Who was the team to beat last year? You had Greg Norman and Jay Haas. In a racing form, you always have a dog down there, but we were the dogs,” Zoeller said Friday, a day before the start of play in the four-team, alternate-shot exhibition event.
“You would think that Freddy Couples-Nick Price would be the team to beat, but I’ll tell you in skins, it’s a matter of just hitting it at the right time.”
Last year at Royal Kaanapali, Zoeller teamed with Ben Crenshaw, a late replacement for the injured Peter Jacobsen, to win a record $530,000, while skins rookies Haas and Norman finished second with $190,000. Zoeller made putts on the back nine worth $200,000 and $300,000. In 2008, Zoeller and Jacobsen won with $320,000. Zoeller secured the victory with a tap-in par on the 18th, worth $100,000.
“When big money was on the line, we ran the hole,” Zoeller said.
Couples and Price are newcomers to the $770,000 event, but Couples has a stellar record in the now-defunct Skins Game on the regular tour. He played 14 times in the Skins Game, winning five times and pocketing a record $4.1 million. Couples turned 50 in October and is making his Champions Tour debut.
“Skins games are a little bit different, you can be a little more bold. It is great to be here,” Couples said. “I’m now on the senior tour. I’m going to play probably half and half. But being here for the Skins Game, it’s fantastic. A lot of good things are going to happen in the next two days. I’m the younger guy here.”
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson are teaming for the sixth straight year, and Gary Player is playing alongside Loren Roberts.
The first six holes in the two-day, 18-hole event are worth $30,000 each, Nos. 7-12 $40,000 each, Nos. 13-17 $50,000 each, and No. 18 $100,000.