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Couples takes Seniors title; home win for Simpson

HARRISON -- Fred Couples finished off John Cook with a nifty wedge shot to 3 feet on the third hole of a playoff Sunday in the Seniors Players Championship.

"I knew when it was going, it was a really good shot," Couples said. "I didn't think it was going to be short and trickle down the hill. I just felt like it was going to be right there. It was simple yardage -- 76 yards -- and it hit soft. That extra rain certainly helped that shot, but I knew it was going to be close."

Couples won his first senior major title, closing with an even-par 71 to match Cook (70) at 11-under on Westchester Country Club's West Course -- a longtime PGA Tour venue where Couples estimated he has played about 100 rounds in 30 years. Peter Senior (71) was third at 10 under.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, won for the first time this season after winning four times last year in his first season on the 50-and-over tour.

He won after having a non-traditional back procedure six weeks ago in Germany, and had to battle the stiff wind and a sore left hip that began giving him trouble during a nearly two-hour rain delay.

"I wouldn't say I was playing awesome golf before the rain delay but it wasn't bad," Couples said. "After the rain delay, I just didn't feel very good. I hit some good drives but I was not all that great."

Couples joined Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd as the only players to win the Players Championship on the regular and senior tours. He also earned a spot in The Players Championship, an event he won in 1984 and 1996.

Cook held a share of the lead for nine holes but bogeyed No. 16 and missed birdie putts on the final two holes, forcing the second straight playoff and fourth overall in the event.

Lonnie Nielsen of Orchard Park finished 3 over par, tying for 45th and winning $9,720.

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Simpson wins first title

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Webb Simpson grew up in North Carolina, and his favorite memory of the Wyndham Championship was caddying for Neal Lancaster as a teenager during a pro-am.

That might change now that he's won the tournament.

Simpson claimed his first PGA Tour title, shooting a 3-under 67 to win by three strokes.

The 26-year-old Raleigh native finished at 18-under 262 and collected $936,000 in the tournament about a 30-mile drive from the Wake Forest campus where he was a college star.

Simpson's final 18 holes were marked by steady, bogey-free play and a strong finish.

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Around the greens

*Suzann Pettersen rallied to win the LPGA Safeway Classic, overcoming a nine-stroke deficit with a 7-under 64 and beating Na Yeon Choi with a par on the first hole of a playoff in North Plains, Ore.

*The U.S. Amateur begins today at Erin Hills Golf Course in Town of Erin, Wis., with Williamsville's Jake Katz, the two-time BDGA Men's champion, part of a threesome that tees off at 9:30 a.m.

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