LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) – Skins Game rookie 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 in earnings.

Fred Couples, who has won the Skins Game five times in 13 appearances, finished second with $385,000 to run his career Skins earnings 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.

John Daly won $25,000 on the first hole of the two-day, 18-hole event, then didn’t win another skin.

With the field trimmed to an Ames-Daly twosome by the third playoff hole, Daly drove into a fairway bunker to essentially end his chance.

Fred Funk, who took the title with a rookie record $925,000 last year, was shut out in his second try.

Funk, who wore a skirt on the third hole last year after Annika Sorenstam outdrove him, played a few practical jokes this time, including replacing Daly’s ball on the sixth green with a remote-control ball that lurched back and forth, then served as Daly’s caddy on the 12th tee, when he handed him a huge wedge and a child’s 9-iron.

Funk and Daly also teed off at the same time, side by side, on No. 16, chuckling almost the entire time.

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, the junior player in this year’s Skins foursome, 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.

Skins takes on a new wrinkle in overtime: If a hole is tied, only the low scorers remain in the hunt. Ames and Daly each birdied the second playoff hole with putts from about 5 feet to eliminate Couples and Funk.

After Couples’ eagle putt on the final hole of regulation trickled just over the edge of the cup, Daly left a 10-foot eagle putt inches to the right on an 18-foot eagle try on the first playoff hole at No. 18.

All four players tied with birdies on the first playoff 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 of the pin on the par-4, 377-yard No. 12. 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, 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.

AP-ES-11-26-06 1701EST


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