Strange things can happen in a sport where a small ball is supposed to go in a small hole after being smacked by a large club. Inches mean everything -- the difference between a good hole and a bad day.
Inches, seemingly, cost Fred Couples a major.
Some miscues were his own mistakes, things he could control. Couples three-putted No. 7 for par after he was in a great position. He had just four birdies to go along with two bogeys, missing a few shots he usually makes. His biggest mistake was three-putting No. 15. The bogey left him with a two-stroke hole with three holes to go, and Kenny Perry was too precise and too good Sunday to let that happen.
But one of Couples' biggest slips was one he couldn't control, one of those random quirks that can make golf so rewarding but also so frustrating.
After missing a birdie on No. 7, Couples teed off from No. 8 thinking only about "not doing anything stupid."
Aiming for the middle of the green, he hit it a little too hard. No big deal -- until the ball smacked a sprinkler head and went flying 30 feet over the green. A few inches left or right, and Couples' front nine is looking a little better.
Couples bogeyed the hole. It didn't make or break his round, but one stroke is a means a lot when the margin of victory is two.
"Freddy seemed to be a little bit snake-bit out there," said Duffy Waldorf, who finished tied for second. "He hit a few shots that were unlucky, hit a sprinkler head. I just felt like things didn't work out well for him, even though I think he played as well as anybody for sure."
Couples made seven birdies on his first 11 holes Friday before rain stopped play until the next day. His pace slowed, but he was still in the thick of it Sunday.
After Perry holed the final shot of the tournament, Couples talked about the sprinkler head, saying: "Stuff like that is going to happen."
For whatever reason Sunday, that stuff happened to Couples, and for the second year in a row he finished second at the Constellation Senior Players Championship.
"It was a little bit of a sour day the way I played after I teed off," Couples said. "I hit every fairway and drove it really well. Who knows."
Everett Cook: email@example.com and Twitter @everettcook. First Published July 1, 2013 4:00 AM