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Henke captures Couples Invitational

Nolan Henke was such a late addition to the Fred Couples Invitational that he wasn't even listed in the tournament program.

Next year, he's likely to move up a bit on the call list. Henke beat Scott McCarron in a four-hole playoff Tuesday to win the $485,000 charity event at The Golf Club at Newcastle.

Henke shot a 6-under 66 Tuesday, including a 30 on the back nine, for a two-day total of 135 on the 7,024-yard course. The victory was worth $130,000.

McCarron, who shared the first-round lead with CBS announcer David Feherty, shot a 69 Tuesday and forced the playoff with a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 17. He won $65,000.

Couples, Jeff Sluman and Fred Funk finished two shots back at 137.

Henke, who has played in two of the previous four Couples tournaments, got a call from Couples' manager Lynn Roach sometime during the Open asking him to fill the 24th and final spot in the tournament.

"I'm glad that Lynn called me now," the Fort Meyers, Fla., resident said. "Maybe I won't be a fill-in next year."

Henke said he hopes his victory here could be the start of something when the PGA Tour resumes.

"I haven't been playing well the last three or four years," Henke said. "This is a nice feeling -- one I haven't had for a while. Hopefully this will give me some confidence out on the tour."

Henke and McCarron each had pars on their first three trips on hole No. 18, used for the playoff. McCarron missed a seven-footer for birdie and a chance for the win on the third playoff hole. Henke then made his winning 13-footer for birdie on the fourth hole, while McCarron missed a 15-footer, which would have extended the playoff.

"I hit both of those putts exactly where I wanted," McCarron said. "Even though I lost, this is still a confidence builder."

Henke's back nine featured six birdies and no bogeys. He birdied five holes in a row starting at No. 11.

Feherty, a co-leader at 66 with McCarron after the first round, finished with a 77 Tuesday. He had three bogeys and a double bogey on his first four holes of the day.

"I'm glad this was only two days," Feherty said of his progressive score. "I don't think I could have handled an 88."

Mike Early, the head pro at Port Townsend Golf Course, followed up his opening-day 81 with a 74 Tuesday. Early won the TearDrop Qualifier last month to join the tournament as the local club professional.

AP