The Skins Game enjoyed arguably its finest moments at
Trilogy. The only time the event was played by Tiger Woods
and Annika Sorenstam was at Trilogy at La Quinta.
Fred Funk provided one of the funniest moments in 2005
when Annika Sorenstam out drove him on the third hole which then caused Funk to 'don' a pink skirt which he pulled out of
the bag and wore all the way to the green. High on
entertainment value for the millions watching on television and leaving all three of his fellow competitors laughing and 'in stitches', Funk then proceeded to clean up both days taking the title with a total of 15 Skins and $925,000.00. Incidentally Funk became the oldest Skins Game winner in the history of the event, surpassing Gary Player who accomplished that feat in 1983 at the age of 48.
Fred Couples was shut in 2005 for the first time in the history of his participation in the event. Couples won the Skins Game at Trilogy in 2004 and 2003 with winning totals of $605,000 & $640,000 respectively, and holds several Skins Game records including victories (5), appearance (13) and earnings ($3,515,000).
The Skins Game is traditionally one of the most widely viewed golf events since its inception in 1983. The Don Ohlmeyer/Gary Frank creation began in 1983 with then golf's greatest players-Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson-all competed to make the Skins Game an instant golfing television success.
That tradition continued to be inovative with the addition of LPGA super-star Annika Sorenstam beginning with the 2003 Skins Game, where she won $100,000 the first day. Annika was shut out of the money in 2004 and again in 2005. Since 2006, the Skins Game has moved on to other locations, but the marquee names were at its highest level during the Trilogy tenure.
The Skins game supposedly originated centuries ago in the holy land of golf, Scotland. According to legend, furriers arriving in Scotland from other countries having sailed for months in leaky boats with other smelly sailing men, icky stacks of decomposing hides, rats, and other privations, would, instead of looking for female companionship, a bath, or a decent meal, opt for a round of golf before heading into town. These Furriers gambled their pelts or "skins" on golf and the name stuck.
Annika Sorenstam earned $225,000 and a whole lot of respect with a second-place finish in the otherwise all-male Skins Game. Fred Couples, the grand master of the Skins format, won the event for a record fourth time. He collected all but $25,000 of his $605,000 Sunday, the final day of the 18-hole, made-for-television event.
"I think she played terrific golf," Couples said. "I certainly didn't play better than Annika. I just made a few more putts and a couple lucky shots."
Phil Mickelson was third with $170,000. Mark O'Meara won nothing, one year after earning $405,000 to take the title. "I've played with a lot of fine players," O'Meara said, "and I'd have to put Annika at the top of the list."
Couples won eight Skins, seven of them on Sunday. Sorenstam and Mickelson each had five a piece. "I'm very glad I came. I've enjoyed it so much" Sorenstam said. "It's really an honor for me to play with all three of them. They've been so great to me, and I've learned a lot this week. It really tops a wonderful year."
All day Sorenstam seemed to be in the middle of the fairway. "We talked on the course about how impressed we were that every shot she seemed to hit was headed for the pin," Mickelson said. He also was impressed with her distance off the tee. "I was surprised at how far she hit the golf ball," Mickelson said. "I think if she was to attempt to play the men's tour full-time-not that she would, but if she were going to-I don't think distance would be a hindrance for her. She hits the ball plenty long."
Couples birdied the 17th three times, twice in a four-hole playoff to determine the winner of the par-5, 575 yard 18th. Couples clinched the title when he and Mickelson birdied the second playoff hole, the par-3 17th, and Sorenstam didn't.
But Couples and Mickelson needed two more playoff holes to end it. Couples' 20-footer for birdie, again on the 17th, added $200,000 to his day. His first time on the 17th Couples won a $140,000 Skin by sinking a 55-footer for birdie.
Couples, in his 10th Skins Game, ran his record career earnings in the event to an amazing $2,875,000. "It's both a fish bowl and pot luck," he said of the format. "I feel like I can pull off any shot at any time and if I don't it doesn't take me three holes to figure my swing out. And I think the best thing that I do is I don't get flustered."
Sorenstam was the first-day leader with $175,000 thanks to one of the most spectacular shots ever in the game-a breath taking, 39 yard eagle out of the bunker on the par-5, 9th hole. She made it two Skins in a row by knocking in a 15-foot putt on the first hole Sunday-the par 4, 378 yard 10th.
Sorenstam was the obvious favorite of the big gallery at the Trilogy Golf Club, which opened in February. A group of girls shouted "Go Annika" as she walked down one fairway, and she waved and smiled in response. " I'd love to do it again," Sorenstam said. "I'm just sad that it's over. I wanted to play some more."
On the last hole of regulation, O'Meara matched Mickelson's birdie, and that sent all four back to the 18th tee again. This time, all four missed reasonable birdie putts, including a 6-footer by O'Meara and a 4-footer by Mickelson.
So all four trudged to the par-3, 226-yard 17th. This time, Sorenstam and O'Meara were eliminated when Couples and Mickelson made birdies. Both birdied the 18th-the third playoff hole-and Couples was ready to split the $200,000. But it was back to the 17th to finish it off.
Couples missed short birdie putts that would have given him Skins on the 12th and 13th holes, then recovered with a 25-foot birdie putt for a $240,000 Skin-the biggest of the event-on the par-4, 412-yard 14th.
Mickelson got off to a horrible start, blasting his tee-shot into the bushes to the left of the fairway on the 10th then knocking it over construction out of play on the third. He recovered with a 10-foot uphill putt for birdie and a $70,000 Skin on the par-3, 173-yard 15th hole (now #6)
Minutes after hitting into the water to blow a chance at winning the Skins Game, Tiger Woods smiled and jokingly walked arm-in-arm down the fairway with Fred Couples. Hey, what else can you do when you're playing Mr. Skins himself?
Couples continued his amazing run in the Thanksgiving weekend tournament, prevailing in four playoff holes over Woods to claim the final three Skins and $340,000, and win his record fifth Skins Game with a total of $640,000.
"I'm just happy I took the 'King of Skins' extra holes," Woods said. "I made him work for it." Couples won all his money on Sunday, starting with a birdie putt worth $300,000, and eight Skins on the first hole. He finally won the tournament after Woods' tee shot went into the water on the last playoff hole, the par-3, and 204-yard 17th at Trilogy Golf Club on a cold, windy day in the desert. Couples, 45 has won a record $3,515,000 and 77 Skins in 11 appearances in the made-for-TV tournament.
"It's a sweet day for me," Couples said.
"When I come here, I don't expect to win. I just expect to go out and play and hit some really good shots," he said. "I did for a couple of days and I won a lot of Skins, and it just happened." Couples, who injured his back not long after his 15th and most recent PGA victory, the 2003 Shell Houston Open, has heard all the talk that his competitive days are winding down.
"I'd love to lose today and go win the L.A Open," said Couples, the 1992 Masters champion. "I'll be quite honest with you. That's hard to do. It's hard for me to play four really good rounds, but that's my goal. My goal is to win again."
Woods finished second with five Skins and $310,000, more money than he won in his previous 3 Skins Games combined.
After making a sensational Skins Game debut last year, Annika Sorenstam was shut out this time. She and Aussie Adam Scott were eliminated on the first playoff hole. Scott won two Skins and $50,000 on a Saturday, when the first nine holes were played.
Woods' best chance to win the playoff came on the second extra hole, the 17th, when he followed a great tee shot by rolling a 10-foot birdie putt just left of the cup. Woods stuggled with his putter the entire weekend.
On the third extra hole the par-5, 524-yard 18th, Woods left his 15-foot birdie putt short and Couples rolled his 12-footer left. A few minutes earlier, Woods' shot from the left rough stayed left and landed in the rough just in front of the green.
Back on the 17th tee for fourth playoff hole, Woods pushed his shot left and into the lake on the left side of the fairway. Couples played it safe for the win, hitting the green and then two-putting.
"The first time, I hit a great shot in there," Woods said, referring to the 17th. "I just misread the putt. The second time I just pulled it. I was trying to hit a nice little draw against the wind and just pulled it a little bit."
Couples also won last year's Skins Game in a four-hole playoff.
Couples jumped to a quick lead on Sunday's first hole, the par-4, 446-yard 10th, by curling in a 27-foot birdie putt worth $300,000. Of that, $225,000 was a carryover from Saturday, when Scott won the only Skins.
Woods took the lead with a 6-foot birdie putt worth $310,000 and five Skins on the par-4, 421-yard 15th hole, putting him $10,000 ahead of Couples.
The four holes won were the fewest in Skins Game history.
Sorenstam struggled all day. She won $225,000 in her Skins Game debut in 2003, including $175,000 with one sensational bunker shot.
"It was a really tough day, but I've enjoyed every moment of it," she said, "It just didn't work out."
Fred Funk won the 2005 Skins Game with a total of $925,000 and 15 Skins, clinching a record-setting victory when Tiger Woods missed an 8-foot birdie putt on #18 on Sunday.
The 49-year-old Funk became the oldest Skins Game winner with two-putt birdie on #18 that gave him the final $550,000 and six skins. He won all $700,000 available on Sunday.
"I'm still in shock that I got asked to be in this thing," said Funk, who was invited to his first Skins Game after winning The Players Championship in March. "I've alway watched it on TV and was shocked to be part of it. It's something that I didn't even dream of, actually. First of all, I didn't dream that I'd win the Players Championship."
Almost as surprising as Funk winning practically the entire purse was Fred Couples, the King of Skins, getting shut out for the first time in 12 appearances. Woods won the other $75,000 on the third hole on Saturday. Annika Sorenstam was shut out for the second straight year.
"This course is long for me to start with, and you put some wind and some firm greens, it made it really tough for me to get it close," said Sorenstam, the LPGA star playing in her third straight Skins Game. "It's an honor simply to come here. This is a great experience for me." Funk's $925,000 earned 15 Skins were records for a rookie.
With more than half the purse up for grabs on the final hole, Funk played it brilliantly. As usual, his drive was in the middle of the fairway on the 524-yard, par-5 finishing hole. His approach shot left him with a 30-foot eagle putt, which curled just to the left, leaving him a tap-in for birdie. With Couples and Sorenstam in trouble, Woods needed to make his birdie putt to halve the hole and force a playoff. He missed just left.
"Wow," Funk said.
"I played good, but still, it's timing," said Funk, who won $150,000 and three skins with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th, the day's third hole. "There just weren't that many putts made." Said Woods, "I didn't hit the quality shots. He had a two-putt to force us to have to make birdie, and we didn't."
The previous oldest Skins Game champion was Gary Player, who was 48 when he won it in 1983. Funk won the most money in one year and won the biggest hole in a regular Skins Game-not including the 2001 event that was played under a validation format. Greg Norman won $800,000 on one hole in that 2001 event, and $1 million overall.
Woods and Couples both had chances to reel in Funk, who won $225,000 and six skins on Saturday.
Woods had a sensational approach shot out of the right rough on the par-5 16th and could have won $280,000 and four Skins, but his 25-foot eagle putt stopped about 4 inches short of the cup.
"Don't do that, don't," Woods said before covering his face.
"Nice lag," Sorenstam told him.
"I've got a pretty pink skirt for you," Funk said to Woods, referring to the skirt he had to wear on No.3 on Saturday after Sorenstam out drove him.
On the par-3 17th, which was worth $350,000 and five Skins, Funk hit into water and Woods and Couples both missed long birdie putts. Sorenstam made a par putt, forcing Woods and Couples to do the same to halve the hole and carry the money over to the 18th.
Stephen Ames rolled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole Sunday for $270,000 that gave him the championship with a total of $590,000.
"I forgot about the golf swing and just started playing golf," Ames said. "I made some nice putts and hit some good shots where I made some Skins early on."
Five time champion Fred Couples finished second with $385,000. John Daly won one Skin worth $25,000 and ruined his chance at the $270,000 still up for grabs when he drove into a fairway bunker on the third playoff hole.
Fred Funk, who wore a pink skirt on one hole last year then went on to laugh all the way to the bank with $925,000 and the title was shut out in his second trip to the Skins.
Couples and Funk were eliminated on the second playoff hole, when Ames and Daly each had birdies.
Couples, who was making his 13th appearance and is known as the 'King of the Skins,' ran his career earnings in the event to $3.9 million. Although he didn't win this time, Couples played the best golf of the foursome, with 10 birdies and an eagle over 20 holes.
"Freddie should have won," Daly said. "No offense to Stephen, but Freddie played better than all three of us. Stephen just got it at the right time."
In Skins competition, a player wants to win the big-money holes as the pot builds up. Ames won the title by taking eight Skins and Couples nine, but less money.
Although the joking and needing didn't quite measure up to the hoopla over Funk's donning a skirt for the third hole last year when Annika Sorenstam outdrove him, there were a lot of lighter moments.
Funk played a couple of practical jokes, including replacing Daly's ball on the sixth green with a remote-control ball that lurched back and forth, then serving as Daly's caddy on the 11th tee, when he handed him a huge wedge and a child's 9 iron.
"I didn't realize his bag weighed 9,000 pounds," Funk said. Daly shot back, "That's all the cigarettes."
When Ames curled in a 10-foot birdie putt to tie No. 17 after Couples made a birdie from 45 feet, Couples said, tongue in cheek, "I'm so happy for him."
Funk and Daly also tee off at the same time, side by side, on No. 16, chuckling almost the entire time.
Daly won the first hole of the two-day, 18 hole event, then had trouble off the tee and on the greens most of the rest of the way. "It just kind of sums up the way my putting's been this year," Daly said. "I haven't made anything."
Funk said it was no fun to get shut out in the defense of his title, but "It was a good average for two years. It's just a thrill to be a part of this Skins Game."
Ames, the first touring pro from Trinidad and Tobago, made his Skins Game debut after winning The Players Championship earlier this year.
The 42-year-old Ames, now a Canadian citizen, made $250,000 with a 1-foot birdie on No. 12, then rolled in an 18 footer for another birdie and $70,000 on No. 13.
Daly's tee shot on the third playoff hole, the par-4, 415-yard No. 2 at Trilogy Golf Club, lodged deep in the sand, just below the lip of the bunker. Another 6 inches on his drive would have cleared it.
He hit out of the sand and into the fairway and Ames tucked his approach within 3 feet of the pin. Daly finally tapped in for a bogey before Ames sank his putt.
All four players had tied with birdies on the first palyoff hole.
Couples, who topped the earnings the first day with $175,000, added $140,000 when he won the 15th hole with a 5-foot birdie putt and $70,000 more with an 8-foot eagle putt on No. 16
Blanked the first day, Ames earned a cool quarter of a million dollars after hitting his wedge within a foot af the pin on the par-4, 377-yard 12th. He quickly picked up another $70,000 on the next hole when he rammed in an 18-footer, the ball striking the back of the cup, bouncing up and then dropping in.
The prize money on the first six holes was $25,000 each; Nos. 7-12 $50,000 apiece; 13 through 17 worth $70,000 each. The final hole was a "Super Skin" for $200,000. When a hole was tied, that money carried over until one of the players won a hole outright.
Anthony Kim (Course record 62)
Mayor Rudy Giuliani