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April 9, 2024

Fred Couples

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Quick Quotes

Q. We know this is one of your favorite days of the year. How was the walk?

FRED COUPLES: The walk was great. We had a good time. A lot of new stories. No, we were talking about -- well, first of all, JT has Revy caddying for him, and we all know Revy, so it was kind of fun.

Mostly for me, it's not about me, it's just about the day, but I was hoping that I could get in nine, get through -- I've been withdrawing every tournament I've played at. I started to hit it a little better.

I'm not hitting it very far and I have a lot of woods in my bag, as you can see, so hopefully I can get through it. I might play the par-3 tomorrow, but I physically just got to really be careful.

But Tiger is hitting it pure. JT is bombing it. The golf course is absolutely stunning. For me personally, it might be better off if we play in the rain because I did well last year in the rain.

But it's firm and fast, and it's really, really nice. Really nice.

Q. What's the difference in Tiger on this day today than this day last year, maybe not so much game-wise but the walk and --

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I think -- I don't stare at his gait much, but he just hits it so good. He hit a tree there, so I actually out-drove him on No. 9, but the sound of the ball -- I said, good swing, and he hit it fat and it hit off the front of the ninth green and it trickled down, and he said, the lie.

So I know the deal. The lie is below your feet. It's just hard. He said his back is doing okay. I think last year it was so bad that a lot of things just wore him down, playing in that rain, moving around slowly, sluggish. The tee times where maybe he couldn't get work done, and we were out here and doing all that.

But this year he looks strong, and he's excited to play, and I think he looks really, really good.

Q. What did you have to do to play?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I had some cortisone shots last week, several of them. I don't know how much it did, and I brought Chad, who I rarely travel with anyone, but Chad Beauchamp from Orange County came, and another hour we'll go back and he'll try and just loosen it up.

But it's in a different spot. My back from the old actually feels pretty well. It's just a different place. I fell at Sioux Falls in a Champions Tour event, it'll be four years come September, and I know when I did it and I know what hurt, and it just won't go away.

Q. Where is it?

FRED COUPLES: It's up on the right side, probably halfway up.

Q. How did you fall?

FRED COUPLES: Just the first hole is a 4-iron off the tee, and I turned to shake hands with Willie Wood because I haven't played with him since college, and I turned and kind of got a little further, and it's built like that, and I just slipped and went right down and bounced right back up.

76 shots later on a course that everyone shoots 67 on, I was done.

It's just been there forever. I don't really understand it. I'm going to get an MRI when I get home next week. I don't like doing those things, but just so they can see if it's a new spot because certainly my back feels really, really good.

Q. You've been outspoken in your support for the PGA TOUR and against LIV. Has your opinion about LIV changed (indiscernible)?

FRED COUPLES: Well, has it changed? I don't think I'll ever understand it. Maybe I'll go to one and see what it's really, really like. I know how great they are as players. I get it all, and I get the 54 holes and you drive a cart to your tee and shotgun. That's easy to pick on. Sometimes I've picked on comments that people have made, and I've picked on comments that they talk about the Tour, which I've said I have now 44 years invested in, and I don't want anyone picking on a tour that I think is very good.

Now, everything can get better, but let me tell you, if the LIV Tour is better for golf, I'm missing something there. But again, I'm not here to bash them anymore. I'm going to see them all tonight. Do I like coming to this tournament? I love it. Do I like five days before it seeing the people standing there saying we're coming after the green jacket? I mean, when I was 35 I was coming off the green jacket, too.

I don't think you need to tell people what you're doing. I mean, everyone at this tournament -- you don't think Ludvig Aberg wants to win the green jacket here, or Hatton?

But I find it funny, and I find their golf very, very good. I love DJ. I love Brooks. I don't know if they even comment on the LIV Tour. They just play golf.

So please don't tell me the LIV Tour is as good as the PGA TOUR. I don't want to hear it.

Q. As somebody who knows this course as well as anybody, can you put in perspective for us the feat Tiger could pull off this week by making 24 straight cuts here?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I will say this: I think the last thing he's thinking about is making the cut. Now, the weather is -- I don't know how the weather is supposed to be. I don't know if it's supposed to be perfect or not, but I don't think it matters to him. He can play well in winds and rain and all that.

Can he win here? You know what, yeah. I just watched him play nine holes, and nine holes is only nine holes on a Tuesday, but he never mis-hits a shot. But the idea of making a cut, I think he would laugh at that because he's not here to -- that's a huge record, but he's here to win. He's here to play really, really hard.

From what I see -- I don't ask him much. We always talk about Sam or Charlie; very rarely how is your ankle. His ankle is bad. We know it. But it looks like he's here, he's going to walk 72 holes, and if he keeps playing like that, he'll be a factor.

Q. Last year was kind a different dynamic with the dinner with LIV guys there for the first time. Now the champion this year is a LIV guy. Is there anything that you're anticipating with that?

FRED COUPLES: You know, when I was younger playing out here and guys would talk about Nick Faldo or Greg Norman coming from other countries, I called them golfers. Nick Faldo is not one of the best golfers in the world that came from England, he was one of the best golfers that I competed with.

Jon Rahm -- I'm old, but he's our champion, and he's a great, great champion. It wouldn't shock me to see him win again or maybe even three times the way he plays.

But the dinner is pretty simple. He's going to sit up there. He's going to serve us all great food and wine and we're going to have a great time.

Was it uncomfortable last year? I don't think so. It's a long table, and I sit near my guys every year, and it's a pretty fast two hours with not much talking.

But Jon Rahm is a tremendous champion of this tournament, and he's there to have a great night. I don't think there's any issues at all with anybody.

Q. What needs to be working for you to rally this week?

FRED COUPLES: Because I want to play here. I live in Newport, and I withdrew there. I live in Palm Springs, too, and I didn't even participate. I withdrew after the pro-am. I didn't touch a club from Thursday of whatever that was until Sunday here because I didn't even want to move, and I played Sunday not very well, but I got it around, and then today.

The last thing I want to do is come out and embarrass myself by a bad score. I know I can hit the ball. What is that? I don't know if that's a 73 or a 75, but I'm not shooting 80. There's no way. I'm just not that kind of person. I wouldn't do that. Can I shoot 80? Of course I can. But I'm not planning on it.

But I feel okay. Again, the nine holes, maybe playing with Tiger -- I was being outdriven by I don't even know how far, but I was hitting it solid and getting it around. I have to putt good. I'd better putt good.

Q. You mentioned college, a young man in the field this year Santiago De La Fuente from University of Houston --

FRED COUPLES: I haven't met him. We've got a Cougar here.

Q. Your thoughts on maybe looking back at the program, the strength of --

FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, I was telling my caddie, George, who's a friend, that when you see him, point him out. Hopefully he's got a Cougar red hat on or Cougs, and he goes, no, dude, he's probably got NIL stuff. He's probably wearing Titleist or whatever, and if he is, good for him.

But I need to meet him, say hi. Yesterday I was on the range -- I talked a lot, but I was on the range for an hour, so I didn't do anything. Today I'm going home right now so I'll probably see him tomorrow, but I need to say hi.

And what a great honor for him to win that Latin America thing and to come here. He must be incredible.

Q. What's your pain threshold this week in terms of fighting through it?

FRED COUPLES: You know what, if I drive it somewhere and I've got downhill lies -- the hardest shots I have are like with wedges and sand wedges, so I open way up and I hit a wedge 90 yards now. So the threshold is when it pops. Then it's -- I don't know what's going to happen. But if I can play around it and get it around, I'll be fine.

I could go to the range now and look pretty good hitting drivers and 3-woods because I'm so far away, and I won't even warm up with an iron.

It's really not painful until I make a bad swing, and then it's toast. So I'm trying to play around that.

Q. Is there anything left to lengthen at this course, and have any of them gone too far?

FRED COUPLES: That's a great question. I don't think any of them have gone too far. I really don't. I played with Justin Thomas today. He had an 8-iron in -- I always thought No. 7 was just brutal.

Where could they lengthen a hole? Everyone is talking about No. 2. It kind of looks awesome. Maybe you're a little more to the left where you can't like cut it way down there. I mean, the length is there.

The other day I played on Sunday, and I told the amateurs that I was playing with just don't look -- just follow me and just walk all the way to the back of the 18th tee and now turn around, and the one guy just couldn't believe it. I mean, it's a tunnel.

I think 18 is probably one of the greatest holes in golf now. We didn't use the -- last year was into the wind almost every -- I was hitting 3-woods to it. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, but I'm just saying it was so long. But if it's dry and they move the tee back, it's one of the greatest finishing holes -- trying to make a par to win this thing would be amazing.

But length? I don't know if there's any holes maybe they need to lengthen. I really don't.

Q. Who did you play with Sunday?

FRED COUPLES: I played with José María and I played with Henrik and a guy Jeff from New York, friends.

Q. I'm just curious, with this threesome here, how the dynamic is with three different levels of experience. You talk about everything, you said, but when you're talking about what's in front of you and all that stuff, how does the information flow?

FRED COUPLES: Well, JT has played with us enough that he doesn't even need to hear our garbage anymore, honestly. Today was really fun stuff. I don't even know if anyone even talked about anything.

Well, there's a couple new pin placements, so we screwed around to those and I watched them. But this is like year six, and JT is close to now -- whether he hopefully wins this, but whether he does, he knows the course, Tiger knows it back of his hand, and I am learning more with short drives really how long this thing can play.

But there's not much help anymore. It's just more fun, and it's an enjoyable -- I love those guys, and it's so much fun. We are on a text thread, and every night we go at it, and it's just interesting.

Q. What do you go at it about?

FRED COUPLES: Well, Alabama and basketball, Houston. Tiger's Stanford ladies' team got beat up and Sam is a big track star now, so we talk a little bit about her. Mostly it's just a quick text and then it opens up a can of worms, and it's kind of fun.

Q. This is the first year you guys have played 17 without -- ten years since 17 lost the (indiscernible). How did that hole play before and how has it played since and what was your experience with that tree?

FRED COUPLES: I think for most of the guys, a lot of them have never seen the tree. It's a beautiful hole. I particularly loved the tree there. But it would be, what are they going to hit. You watch the girls play, and when you get it up to the top, it's like a 9 or a wedge.

Last year was brutal. It was so wet and there weren't many guys hitting a wedge there. But if it stays like this and they're driving it up to the top -- it's a great driving hole, and once you hit a good drive then you can attack it, and if you want me to answer the last five to eight years for me, I'm hitting 4 -- I'm hitting it right into the hit. I'm hitting 4- and 5-irons to a green that is okay with an 8, 9 or wedge.

For them, it's a good hole if they drive it way up there and have a wedge and hit a good wedge and you're going to have a birdie putt. It's tricky. You can get it going to the right there and get it rolling off and have a shot that looks okay. But it's not a brutally long hole for the big boys. It's really not.

Q. (Indiscernible).

FRED COUPLES: Maybe the last year, what would that be, 53 or 54? I'd have to hit it into it or around it before I could fly it, yeah.

Q. You hit it a few times --

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I've hit it, yeah. I'm not glad it's gone, although we have a beautiful plaque that they made for the champions. The plaque is beautiful. It's one of the things I have in the house, and it smells good still.

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