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April 4, 2022

Fred Couples

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Quick Quotes

Q. How are you doing?

FRED COUPLES: I'm doing okay. You know, I played yesterday and then got the call last night to play with Tiger and JT, and I wasn't really going to play, but I'm glad I did. I had a blast. I didn't embarrass myself, but I haven't played any golf -- I played the pro-am at Newport and withdrew, and I've had some pretty good back problems. But I think I'm going to play.

I'm going to take tomorrow off. You guys have heard all this before, but I haven't really -- I'm kind of mystified -- I hit it pretty solid, and I have not played since Thanksgiving. I'll exaggerate. I played in pro-am that I had to play and I played yesterday and today nine holes.

Q. How did Tiger look?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, he looked phenomenal. You know, he's my favorite guy. We talked about, I don't know, a month ago, maybe I'd go to Florida to play two or three days with him, and we all thought that was a great idea, and I couldn't get back to playing, so I just said, look, you're going to go to Augusta a couple days or a day, so there's no reason for me to come in.

Then he sent me a text last night saying, dude, we're playing at 3:00 tomorrow, see you on the tee. I said, you bet.

Q. What impressed you the most?

FRED COUPLES: Well, what impresses me the most is he was bombing it for one. If you want to talk golf, he was bombing it. I know JT is not the longest hitter on the Tour, but I know he's damn long. He was with him flushing it.

I never speak for Tiger, so I'm not even going to get into he walked nine holes, I guess he played nine yesterday, but as a friend and the way he looked, he's very impressive.

Q. Any part of you surprised that he's been able to do this knowing what he's gone through?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, because he played with Charlie in December, right? And then I mean -- look, I text him every day, tease him, he teases me. I never ask him did you play nine today, are you hitting balls. It's always about other stuff. And he kind of hints, I'm feeling good. I went out and I walked. He's doing all this to play in this, which is impressive in itself, because I'm telling you, you guys walk, you follow players. It's brutal to walk, and to go what he's gone through, to -- whatever it is, 14 months ago, to be playing today? I hope everything keeps going Tuesday and Wednesday and I'm sure he's going to tee it up Thursday.

Q. When you talked to him, texted with him, three weeks ago, a month ago, you said you talked about going to Florida, did you think this was possible?

FRED COUPLES: No, I was going to Florida for me. I'm going there to work with him and have him watch me play because he had never mentioned anything, and then he mentioned one day, I've got to start sometime, I've got to start walking and playing. Like I said, I see what you guys do. Someone took a picture of him at the Medalist. I see that, then I don't call him and say, oh, you snuck out and played and walked at the Medalist. That's not how we work. I love him as one of my best friends and I want to damn keep it that way, and I don't pry into anything he does, but most of the texts were about his kids. Charlie got fitted for new clubs, his daughter, the speech, his daughter playing in soccer, and then all of a sudden he said I'm going to go to Augusta -- because he loves JT and I and he wants to play these little practice rounds. That was his goal.

Then today -- I'm not going to -- it's a Monday, right, but he didn't miss many shots. He drove it great, and he's up there putting right now. So he's working.

Q. You obviously know what it's like to play through injuries. You've done it yourself. But for him to play through this kind of injury and go 72 holes, would that be a staggering thing to witness?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I mean, I have a back issue, and I've worked on it since I was in my 30s. What he had was back issues, a few operations and then a horrific car accident. He's the first to tell you -- I see the same thing. I'm lucky to be alive, lucky to be with my kids, and now he's playing.

I don't know the right words. It's not shocking because he's the greatest player to ever play. You give him a couple minutes, you give him a couple good legs and he swings like this, but now comes the walking part of it, and I'm not a guy that's going to guesstimate on that. I watched it today, he looked phenomenal.

Q. Did it feel like a Saturday or a Sunday out there?

FRED COUPLES: Well, on the range it felt like a Sunday, like I was tied for the lead with some guy Tiger and still had a few people rooting for me out there. No, it was unreal. And to be with Bones and Joey, I have a friend caddying for me this week because my caddie is in London with his mother. It was honestly -- look, I'm hoping to play Thursday and not embarrass myself. I've never said that coming here. I missed the cut the last couple years. But I'm going to play Thursday because I felt good.

But this guy is -- he's just unreal. If he can not overdo it -- that's the problem -- I even ask him, what are you doing tomorrow. I know we're going to play nine holes sometime Wednesday. I don't know about the weather now. But if he just doesn't get too amped up, which is easier said than done.

Q. It is Monday, and you don't want to read too much into it, but what you saw today, was it good enough to contend? Was it good enough to be a factor do you think?

FRED COUPLES: Well, for him it always is. Yeah, what I see, he drove it really, really well, so that's the first battle. And then the pins, believe it or not, were in not very fun spots. A lot of them were on slopes. We just stayed away from those.

He didn't putt much, but it's Tiger Woods, he knows how to putt, he knows how to play this course.

But irons, yeah, and the driver was a machine. He hit it in the bunker on 2 but he smoked it, drove it pin high almost on 3. He looks great. He looks great. The sound of the ball -- so I'm comparing it to JT who's a top-two, top-three player in the world. They both looked good. JT looked very good, too.

Q. Do you get any sense of how much pain he's in? Does he give any idea that he is --

FRED COUPLES: He's kind of a tough guy. He's never going to let you know he's in pain. He looked good walking, but again, when I get home I'll tease him, I'll tell him about one of my drives I hit out here today and I won't even talk about him, and he'll come back with something. But pain? You can always be in pain, right? But to hit it like that, now it's just the walking part. I've said it three times. I don't need to expand much on that. If he can walk around here in 72 holes, he'll contend. He's too good. He's too good.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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