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'I got Scott Peterson thrown off the golf team'

One mystery in Scott Peterson's life story may have been solved Sunday — on the sports page of a Florida newspaper.

Why Peterson's golf scholarship quickly evaporated at Ari-zona State University in 1990 has been fodder for blogs and cable talk shows since his high-profile arrest in April 2003 for the murder of his pregnant wife.

The answer, if true, features boozing and womanizing.

After the stint in Arizona, Peterson returned to California where he met and married Laci Rocha. They eventually moved to Modesto, her hometown.

He murdered her just before Christmas 2002 and dumped her body in San Francisco Bay, a jury determined. He remains on death row.

Peterson's father, Lee, had testified in a blockbuster trial that he believed his son became discouraged at Arizona State because he was up against the likes of Phil Mickelson and an unnamed Swede who also made the PGA Tour. Mickelson and Peterson had been teammates in high school in San Diego.

"(The others) were just standouts," Lee Peterson testified in December 2004. "They were, you know, unbelievably good. And I think Scott said, 'Gee, I don't think I'll ever be that good.'"

On Sunday, sports columnist Randall Mell of the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale wrote about Chip Couch, the father of pro golfer Chris Couch, a native of that city. Freshman golfer Scott Peterson was assigned to show the younger Couch around during a recruiting trip to Arizona State, Chip Couch told Mell.

From Mell's column:

"While there's been much speculation about what happened to Scott's abbreviated bid to make the golf team at Arizona State all those years ago, Chip says he knows what happened.

"'I got Scott Peterson thrown off the golf team,' Chip says.

"Chip said when he picked up Chris at the Fort Lauderdale airport after the recruiting trip, he was upset to see that his son was suffering from a hangover.

"'I have my way of finding things out, and I found out that Scott had taken Chris out drinking and meeting girls,' Chip said. 'I called the golf coach and told him I was very unhappy about that. Chris was the No. 1 junior in the country, and they really wanted him to play there. The coach called back and told me that he had thrown Scott Peterson off the golf team.'

"Chris ended up choosing to play at the University of Flor-ida," Mell wrote, "where he made the winning putt to clinch the national championship for the Gators in 1993."

And Peterson played golf at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, where he and his wife later attended California Polytechnic State University.

He was arrested for her murder in front of Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at or 578-2390.