Drowsily relaxed on the outside, admittedly "nervous" inside, Couples just kept going up and up the scoreboard. On the 3rd tee there were so few fans that he actually went behind a palm tree and, well, relieved himself. Then he went out and zipped up the tournament, birdieing that hole, hitting long irons scary close for birdies on 9 and 12, birdieing both of the par 5s on the back (he was 13 under par for the week on par 5s) and generally squashing one of the best fields of the last 13 months into desert dust to beat Montgomerie by three. And yet he didn't make a single double birdie all day.
"To beat Montgomerie, Nick Price, Norman on a Sunday, it's a big deal," Couples said afterward, "whether you're at L.A. or Dubai."
Don't look now, but this could be a boom year for Boom-Boom. He has two tournaments (the Los Angeles Open and the PGA) at Riviera, which may be his favorite course in the world, plus he's won at both Augusta and St. Andrews (the Dunhill Cup), site of this summer's British Open. "This could be a great year," Couples says. "I expect it to be."
Els and Norman also finished in the top seven. Langer finished last among the paid invitees and was therefore made to take the official tour of the smelter.
The World Tour continues not to exist this week in Manila, where the same six stars will show up, joining Seve Ballesteros and, who knows, maybe the pope again.
In America, Phoenix will have Fred Funk.