Couples, Ames, Johnson, Wetterich set for Skins Game

Updated: November 23, 2007, 8:04 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- It only seems as if Fred Couples has played in every Skins Game.

"For me, this is the only tournament I play in, so I'm thrilled to get a sponsors' invite from LG and everybody," said Couples, whose many titles include "King of the Skins."

Couples, defending champion Stephen Ames, Masters champion Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich will compete over the weekend for $1 million in the LG Skins Game.

The made-for-TV event will be played for the 25th time, and it will be Couples' 14th appearance. Since his Skins debut in 1992, he has won a record five times and his 86 skins have totaled a record $3.9 million.

"I think they have all been incredibly fun, from players like Nicklaus and Palmer, and this year we've got young guys. I'm lucky to still be in it," he said.

Skins rookies Johnson and Wetterich are also happy to be in the foursome.

"There were a number of invites and opportunities, considering the early part of the year I had," the 31-year-old Johnson said. "This is one of the only ones I accepted.

"Growing up as a kid, throughout the years, I've watched the type of format and certainly the gentlemen who play in it. So it's an honor to be here and certainly a privilege and a nice way to end my 2007. I'm excited," he said.

Wetterich, 34, grinned and said, "I did not have all the opportunities that Zach just mentioned, so when I got the call, I accepted right away."

The other three chuckled at Couples' remarks about having played in the Skins Game so many times.

"It's comical, yes, but it's very fun to me, and to say what Zach said, I remember when I first got invited," said the 48-year-old Couples, who hasn't played competitively in almost eight months because of a back injury.

"It's a tournament you want to play in, and whether people like it or not or pick on it or not, just to be part of it you'll see tomorrow it's truly fun. It's an extraordinary event," he said.

Couples obviously has enough skins experience to have developed a philosophy for the competition, and he said not getting frustrated is one of the keys.

"It's not serious," he said. "You obviously want to do your best and win, but it's a perfect format to play. Stephen played incredible golf last year and deserved to win. I felt like I did, too, but he made some choice birdies, and that's how you do it in this game."

The 43-year-old Ames, who made a three-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole last year for $270,000 and finished with $590,000, said, "I just made the key putts and key birdies coming down to the end, and that's what you've got to do. When you're out of the hole, you've still got three other guys who have an opportunity. In that sense, it's a little more relaxing."

In the Skins Game format, the first six holes each are worth $25,000 each, the next six $50,000 and Nos. 13-17 worth $70,000. The 18th hole has a $200,000 prize. A player takes a skin by winning a hole. If the hole is tied, the money carries over and all four players remain in the hunt. If there is a tie on No. 18, the players who tied go into a playoff.

The tournament begins with nine holes on Saturday, with the final nine on Sunday.

In the inaugural tournament, Gary Player won $170,000 to beat Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press