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April 7, 2006

Fred Couples


JIM BLANCHARD: Delighted to have Freddie Couples with us, our 1992 champion. Freddie, would you like to make a few remarks and we'll open the floor for questions.

FRED COUPLES: Well, it was a tough course today. I'm sure everyone is telling you that. Basically, you know, when I teed off at 1:45, the wind had started to pick up fairly nicely. You know, it was just tough. It wasn't really so hard to play the course, but it was tough to get the ball close. The front nine, I got it around pretty well with some very, very good par putts. I didn't play that well. And then the back nine, I started to hit the ball a little better. Birdied 12 which was a huge, huge birdie just to hit it on that green, and then birdied 14. Then stood up there on 15, a mile down the fairway and, you know, had a 4 iron out, talked with Joe a little bit, took a 5 iron out and actually smoked it going right at the flag. I thought it was going to be a shot that would hit up on the green and stay on the back, and it just came up short. That was a huge, huge not a mistake, just a little letdown because I hit such a good shot and I just misclubbed.

Turned around, birdied 17, parred 18. So it was a good round, and I look forward to playing tomorrow. It will be tough again, unless we get rain to soften it up. And if we don't, it's windy, I don't know if 2 or 3 under might not win.

Q. Does this course and this event seem to bring out the best in you?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think it's setup for my game. You know, it's set up for a lot of guys, but when I come here, I feel very good on the course. I feel like I'm a very good lag putter, and you have to do that here. My eye catches the slopes pretty well. I'm sure if you watched Ben today, I'm sure he did some miraculous things. I think that just comes from doing it for 30 years. And the speed and the wind, it's all difficult stuff to wind.

As far as standing on the tee, you have to make good swings, you have to hit good shots. But around the greens, even though I'm not an incredibly good putter, I feel pretty safe on these greens. You just can't put yourself in a spot where you physically can't 2 putt it.

But for me today, I made a couple really, really good 2 putts and some pars and kept the ball below the hole, and I had shorter clubs.

Q. You just said you don't live and die with every shot like you did ten years ago; why has that changed?

FRED COUPLES: Well, because I don't hit shots as good as I used to. So it was a lot more important when I played, and played well.

Now, it's easy to say I'm more fun at it, but still, when you're playing well in a tournament like this, you know, then you grind it out and then you expect to play well. But, you know, tomorrow is a day where I'm not going to not be disappointed if I don't play well. I expect myself to do well, but I'm not like, oh, well, I'm not in that category just yet. (Laughter).

I don't play great golf a lot, and that's being in positions like this. I do it every now and then. The British Open last year, I finished third, so I know I can do it. It's just a matter of going out there and again, you know, if you come in here like a lot of these guys, it's tough. It's tough out there, because they are expected I mean, Tiger I'm sure is hanging on by the skin of his teeth. Vijay struggled today. But they are still right there, and they are not I don't think they are too concerned with anything right now, because they are really close to everyone but one guy, and that guy it's hard to play with a lead here. Although, Chad is a great, great player.

Q. What is it about this golf course? You've been, you know, players who are older, and you catch the magic here, at least a round or two, if not more than that.

FRED COUPLES: Well, that's a great question. For me, it's length, too. I drove the ball really, really well yesterday, and I don't want to ever say the course was easier, because it's not. But from where I drove it, I hit a lot of good irons and yesterday was a ten times better round than today was.

But today when I did hit a good shot, I made a putt for birdie. And yesterday, I think I had three tap ins for birdies, and actually, a couple long 3 putts. You know, I can't speak for Ben. What he did was miraculous. For him to he doesn't hit the ball a long way. I'm sure he's going into these greens with long clubs; they are rock hard.

But for me, I was driving it where I had 9 irons and wedges to a lot of holes. You know, it's easier if I do that well. If I don't, then I've got a lot of problems.

Q. Following up on here question, you looked after Chad Campbell, the next four guys are over 40; is there something to that, and if so, what?

FRED COUPLES: In a tournament like this, I don't know if there are that many young guys in this tournament. (Laughter) I don't mean that funny, but any I mean, to me, 26 years old, Adam Scott's young. But David Howell and Ernie and Phil, they are all I think they are all well in their 30s. There aren't that many young guys that can get into this tournament. When they do, they are great players already. So it's not like there's qualifying for this, you can go to qualify for the U.S. Open at 22 years old, make it and play well and everyone is ranting and raving about it.

Here, the age is a huge factor. I don't know how many Masters Rocco has played in. I've played in a bunch. I just feel like I can save a shot or two on the course, you know, if everything is going okay and you're into the round. It seems like I've had really good finishes here, and my length has been a real key to that. I think we all know that what they have done to the course by lengthening it, I think helps me. But I still have to go out and hit the ball. It doesn't help me if I'm playing it from the shrubs.

Q. You know better than most how electrical the back nine at Augusta can be on Sunday. If weather doesn't intervene, is this the kind of back nine where you can have those sort of thunderbolts on Sunday, or is this a back nine that you hold on with your fingernails and hope to finish?

FRED COUPLES: Well, let's just say it doesn't rain and there's no moisture on the course, I'm dead serious, I don't know what could win. There's a lot of guys, 2, 3, a couple 4s. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong I'm looking on the front nine. (Laughter).

4 under could win. If you shoot 1 under on the back nine, you might run away with it. And that's pretty good, especially if there's a little bit of wind. But if it's calm like yesterday, you know, you're going to have to really play. I don't think people are going it fall apart. It's happened, there are some dicey shots, you've got to get by 11, 12. You've got a turn around the corner on 13 and you've got to go for the 15th green if you hit a good drive. So there's birdies and bogeys to be made.

But basically, it's not nearly as easy to hit 13 and 15 anymore. So if anything, you're going to see more 6s made than you are 3s. So when your guys are out there playing, if I'm doing well tomorrow and I drive around the corner, I've got a 2 iron to the 13th green, it all depends on my position, but hit it on that green and keep it on that green is very, very tough. So there's a lot more laying up. I know I saw several balls spinning off the 13th green. The guy I played with made an 8 on the hole, Furyk, and he didn't do anything wrong, so a lot of things can happen on those holes, so you are correct that you could see some mighty swing changes. But usually, in the last few years, it's not because guys are shooting 31s or 32s. It's physically impossible. It's just too tough.

Q. Can you talk about how 17 played today?

FRED COUPLES: I had a good drive and a 9 iron about like that (indicating three feet) and made a putt.

It's a very hard hole. The other guys that I played with drove it into the hill and I don't know what they went in there with. But again, a longer hitter can get it on top. The wind was blowing, and, you know, as we were talking about, the whole back nine, that's a very key hole. They have planted a lot of trees. You have to step up and really hit a good drive and then judge your second shot.

Yesterday I hit a 9 iron into the green, today a 9 iron. So if you hit a good drive, it's not a difficult hole, unless you put it in the wrong spot.

JIM BLANCHARD: Freddie, we're going to let you go to supper. Thank you, and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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