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July 1, 2005

Chris Couch


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Chris, for join us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Cialis Western Open. Congratulations, great round today. Another good day out there. Let's start with you got into this event for winning the LaSalle Bank Open earlier this year in June, so you've taken this opportunity this week to put yourself in a pretty good position.

CHRIS COUCH: Definitely Chicago has been good to me so far this year, to say the least. It was a nice opportunity to be here this week from the LaSalle Bank tournament, and my goal coming into the week was to make the cut and take advantage of what they did for me, and that's happened, and so far a little better than that, so hopefully I can have a good weekend and a good outcome.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: You had a couple good weeks coming here off the Nationwide Tour. Why don't you just talk about you finished late yesterday with the delay, came right out and played today.

CHRIS COUCH: I felt like I never stopped playing, really. I think we got done around 8:30 last night, went back and ate some dinner and fell right asleep, woke up and right back to it, so there wasn't much of a gap there, and that may have been good because I was playing good yesterday, and it carried over to today.

You know, I got off to a pretty good start today with nine straight pars, hit it good all the way around the front, had some pars that lipped out on me and got it going on 10.

Q. What about the difference between the PGA TOUR and the Nationwide Tour? I mean, there are some obvious ones, but you seem to be kind of heading right to it very quickly.

CHRIS COUCH: I think the Nationwide is under ranked, personally. I think the competition is pretty close to the PGA TOUR, and I don't know who ranks these Tours, but I've heard it's the second best Tour in the world for years, and that's saying something. You see the top 20 guys from the Nationwide Tour going to the PGA TOUR, and you're seeing winners every year from that top 20. You're seeing guys in the Top 30 on the Money List. They play in majors, Mark Hensby is a perfect example, Bo Van Pelt, Zach Johnson, the names go on and on.

Q. Did you come into this tournament perhaps feeling like you had nothing to lose compared to last year when you were playing more your Tour card? Do you have a different mindset?

CHRIS COUCH: I think it definitely is a little different mindset because I came into this tournament thinking this would be a good warmup for next year, knowing that I have my card next year, and it's a good feeling knowing that I'm going to be playing out here next year, whereas last year I knew I had to finish in the Top 125, and the way I was playing, that was pretty much impossible.

So it's definitely been a different mindset this week, I think.

Q. Has there been anything you've changed in the last six months or so? Recently you've been able to elevate your game to the way you've been playing this year.

CHRIS COUCH: I sat down in December with a friend of mine who actually worked for Vijay Singh, Paul Tesori, and we studied some swings, we studied Vijay's swing and Tiger and Ernie Els and Annika, and I saw some things that needed to be changed in my swing, and I definitely worked on it for about three or four months and I was shooting 77 at least, 78. I mean, it was brutal. I was thinking about getting a job (laughter). But I stayed with it, and about three months into it, I started seeing some good things happen.

Q. Do you and Paul still review that from time to time?

CHRIS COUCH: I actually tried to get Paul to look at me this week, but he's been pretty busy. We all know how hard Vijay works.

Hopefully we'll get together soon and check it out on tape again and see if we're doing the right if I'm doing the right things.

Q. I know you talked about the LaSalle, but can you take us through the process and just the unusual with your short game, the way you cross hand and how that came about?

CHRIS COUCH: I started that last year. My coach is from South Africa, and he said I was just having terrible problems chipping 80 yards and in, and he said there's a lot of great players over in South Africa who chip cross handed, and they're some of the best chip players in the world, why don't you try it. So I tried it, and the first week or two, I was topping the ball, shanking it cross handed. I stuck with it as a practice drill, and eventually after about a month or two, I got really good at it, and I tried it last year at the John Deere in the second round, I was eight for eight up and downs, and I haven't gone back to the regular way since.

Q. How do you grip that?

CHRIS COUCH: Just like a cross handed putting grip.

Q. When do you use that? Is it just around the greens or is there a certain yardage?

CHRIS COUCH: It just depends. I use it a lot from 90 yards in. 80 yards in for sure, sometimes up to 90.

Q. What makes it such an effective move for you?

CHRIS COUCH: Man, I can't even answer that one. It definitely works. I hit it today on No. 10, I had a 74 yard shot and I knocked it in there about five feet, made birdie and got my round going. You know, I had a good up and down on 9, I used it there. It's been something that's been good to me. I really can't say. I hit it crisp every time.

Q. Did it really just free you up mentally as opposed to the actual technique?

CHRIS COUCH: I think it has a lot to do with technique also because for years I was trying to finish my chip shots close to my left side, and with my hands on there the regular way I couldn't do it. I kept extending too far out, which was causing a lot of inconsistency and with cross handed I seem to do it naturally.

Q. You talked about you make the cut, you're okay on that now. Do you look at reassessing the goals overnight into tomorrow with the thought that maybe you can jump start getting back out here for next year by next week?

CHRIS COUCH: It's still a long tournament. I'm trying not to think too far ahead. I'm going to take it shot by shot and keep trying to have some fun.

Q. Do you know anybody else who hits it cross handed, and what is the most interesting comment or from a fellow player that you've heard, whether it's playful, teasing or whatever?

CHRIS COUCH: I know Doug Barron also does it. He chips cross handed, and I think he's probably the only one I know of that does it on this Tour or the Nationwide Tour.

I guess the funniest thing I've heard was at Virginia Beach this year, I had a chip from off the green on Saturday, and I chipped it in, and the guy I was playing with was like, "Did you just chip that in cross handed?" And I said, "Yeah, I did." Guys are just shocked when they see me hit a shot cross handed or chip cross handed. I think the hardest thing for me to do when I changed was to not worry about what everyone else thought, you know. Something different, and I was always worried that maybe the crowd would say, "Oh, he's chipping cross handed," or people would look at me funny for it. I stopped worrying about what everybody thought and just did it.

Q. What was your reaction to what Jason did at the U.S. Open and does that speak to the level of play on the Nationwide Tour?

CHRIS COUCH: I think it does. We were all rooting hard for Jason that week, and I know on Sunday they were keeping us posted on how he was doing on the leaderboard, and I know he didn't have a good Sunday, but it was fantastic what he did, and I'm sure the experience he gained through that is unbelievable. I haven't seen him since, but I'd like to talk to him about it.

I think that you're going to see a lot of things start happening like that because, like I said, the competition is so close.

Q. Do you feel a lot more ready at this point in your career going into next year to be successful on this Tour? Do you feel like you're way more ready than you were in any previous times?

CHRIS COUCH: I definitely feel like I'm going in the right direction with my game. The things I worked on in the fall and all year this year are I'm starting to see signs that I'm definitely going in the right direction. You never know with this game. I especially never know because I've had a lot of ups and downs in my career. I'm enjoying the good play right now and I hope it continues.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can we go through your four birdies on the back side starting with 10?

CHRIS COUCH: 10, I hit 3 wood, lob wedge to five feet.

11, I hit a driver and a 5 wood, I'm not sure how far, 12 feet, 15 feet, something like that, for eagle. I two putted. That was probably the best shot of the day, 5 wood second shot on 11. I had about a 12 footer for eagle.

15, I hit driver, 6 iron on the very left edge of the green. I had about an 80 footer for eagle and two putted.

Then 17, I hit driver, sand wedge, which almost went in to about three feet, just missed the hole.


End of FastScripts.

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