Ames is sitting pretty

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- You could make a case that TPC Sawgrass owes one to Stephen Ames.

Four years ago this week, Ames was in and cooled out after his final round of The Players Championship, leading rank outsider Craig Perks, who still had three holes to play, by one shot.

NO PLAYOFF

Ames went to the practice range to stay warm, hitting a few shots to prepare for a possible playoff.

But there would be no playoff.

Perks chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th, holed a 100-foot birdie putt on the island green 17th and chipped in again for par from deep rough behind the green at the 18th in one of the most astonishing finishes ever.

It also was one of the game's biggest flukes because, neither before nor after, has Perks done anything to indicate otherwise. He made more than $1 million US that afternoon, which is more than he has made in the intervening four seasons. It remains his lone PGA Tour victory.

"I don't think he owes anybody anything," Ames said yesterday after shooting a 66, vaulting into a share of second place, a shot off the lead, at the halfway point of the 2006 Players.

"Craig finished like the true champion he was. It was a great finish. It will probably go down in the record books as the best finish in golf."

Ames is being kind. Maybe even politically correct, which is not his nature. Ames always has been the kind who speaks his mind and his candid nature has gotten him into hot water, and more than once.

Most recently it happened before his first match at the Accenture World Golf Matchplay Championship last month in California.

Somebody asked Ames if he thought he had a chance against Woods in their opening-round match and Ames responded: "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

After Woods had pitched a perfect game against Ames, nine up with eight holes to play, Woods was asked if he saw Ames' comment.

"Yes," Woods said.

Did it motivate him?

"9 and 8," he said.

After yesterday's round, Ames was asked if he learned anything at LaCosta.

"Yeah, how good he is."

And as far as saying things maybe he shouldn't say?

"No comment," Ames said.

Yesterday, Ames did his talking with his golf clubs, combining matching nines of 33 to shoot 66 on a day when the scoring average was more than 73.

"I hit a lot of good shots, even as the wind came up near the end of the round. I think that was important," he said.

"I've always felt this golf course fits my eye very well. I feel very comfortable here."

As for Ames' nemesis Woods, it was a much better day yesterday.

After visiting his ailing father on Wednesday, Woods played erratically on Thursday and still managed to get it around in even par. Yesterday, he was more solid, shooting 69 to join the hunt.

"Conditions were tough," Woods said.

"And hopefully (today) they will be tough again."

The other Canadian in the field, Mike Weir, had a second consecutive 71 to sit at two-under-par for the tournament and needs a big day today to get into position.

"I feel like I should be a little bit better than two-under," Weir said.

PUTTING OFF

"I've just been a little bit inconsistent on the greens. A little hit and miss with my putting."

Oh, and Craig Perks?

He shot his usual 76 and missed the cut at 11-over-par.

Does TPC owe Ames anything?

On that score, you be the judge.


Videos

Photos