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August 16, 2005

Fred Couples

Justin Leonard


TODD BUDNICK: We'd like to welcome Justin Leonard and Fred Couples, two captain's choices for the 2005 Presidents Cup team. This will be the fourth appearance for both players on The Presidents Cup. We'll start with Justin, who finished 11th on the points ranking, and Justin, just talk a little bit about what it means to be picked by Captain Jack for this year's team.

JUSTIN LEONARD: It's always a fun week to get to play an event like The Presidents Cup and to be selected by Captain Nicklaus makes it even more special, and knowing that this may be his last time around, who knows. Pretty much I think they'd let him do whatever he wanted to do, and there's a good reason why.

But to get to play for him again will be a big honor for me.

TODD BUDNICK: Fred, same thing, for your pick this year?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I am thrilled. At my age I had a nice summer but still a little shocked that he chose but, but I'm thrilled to be on the team and to play with those guys for maybe one last time it is really something I'm looking forward to as much as maybe making my first Ryder Cup team, whatever year it was, '87 or '89, and it's really I played a little more this summer to try and not really be in the Top 10 because that would have been a huge bull, but just to play, but I had a couple good events, and one of the best things was I played with Jack in a practice round at Memorial and then I played with him at the British Open, and he just said "have a good week," and I did, and maybe that was a little bit of a boost.

So to be on this team, I've been on many teams with Justin, so I knew he was in, and I just waited and felt great when Jack called.

Q. When was your first team ever?

FRED COUPLES: Presidents Cup?

Q. No, Ryder Cup?

FRED COUPLES: I don't know. It was at the Belfry, '87?

Q. '89, at Muirfield Village?


Q. So to still be playing teams after 16 years

FRED COUPLES: I'll say it for the last time because it's I am totally tickled pink. This will be a big boost because a few months ago I decided to start playing, just to play and see if I could still put a little effort into it and practice more.

Memorial was a lot of fun, but the British Open was amazing. Even in the U.S. Open I hit the ball extremely well. So I know I can play, I just have to keep playing and get my short game going, and this will be a boost, not just to be on this team, but to keep playing next year and the year after.

Q. For whatever reason I ran across an interview with you from 1998 when you got picked for Melbourne in which you said "If I don't make the Ryder Cup team in '99 this is probably my last hurrah." Is it at all surprising to think that seven years later it's your "last hurrah" again?

FRED COUPLES: It's really surprising. I mean, there's a lot of good players. Anyone we have great players all over. I played with Ted Purdy on Sunday at the PGA. I mean, he missed maybe one shot.

But I think any captain, again, if someone like Justin is close, he's going to get chosen. I was relatively close. I mean, I was not near 12th place, and I think the last time he picked me, I think I was either I was 13th or something.

Yeah, right there. So it's not surprising. I mean, I feel good that there's no added pressure, but it is kind of sneaking in there.

But again, I feel like I can be paired with anyone and will help the team do very, very well?

Q. I guess my question would have been could you have imagined in '99 and 2000 that you'd be playing on the 2005 team?

FRED COUPLES: No, to be on the 2005 Presidents Cup team in January or February, no. But, you know, I mean, as Justin will tell you, he was right there the whole time. He never fluctuated. I was way out of it and played well in the summer, and I think that certainly helps, to be playing better right before the picks are chosen, and I'm playing a couple more times, which I wouldn't be, so that's great for me, too, because I want to keep playing?

Q. What do you have, Boston?

FRED COUPLES: I'm going to play Boston and Pennsylvania, so I think that's every other week, here and then a week off. I think several of the guys are.

Again, I have an idea who I might be playing with, and that will be an enjoyable week?

Q. Tiger?

FRED COUPLES: I don't know, maybe Justin. He lost last week, so he and I have to be partners in the practice round (laughter). Or he won.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I won. That way I don't have to play with you.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, he and Davis played. The loser gets me. That was the big joke.

JUSTIN LEONARD: A lot of pressure (laughter).

FRED COUPLES: There will be a lot of pressure if you get me in the Presidents Cup, too. You'd better play really well?

Q. Justin, what kind of schedule are you playing?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Same thing. I'm off next week and then playing Boston and then off another week.

FRED COUPLES: I think it's Canada.

I have it all plotted since I talked to Jack. I'm going to RTJ the weekend before Pennsylvania and am going to play and stay with Lynn and play the course?

Q. Do you think it'll take eight hours to play?

FRED COUPLES: I don't know, I hope they close it a couple weeks early, but I doubt it. I'll try to wake up early. Just to go I haven't been there in a while.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I played it in '96, so I know they've changed it a lot since then.

FRED COUPLES: But I'm going to be ready, there's no doubt. You know, when you get there, you can be on top of your game and play great, lose a match, and everyone thinks you lost, or you can play poorly and win a match and everyone thinks you're five under par. It's just hitting the ball solid and playing and having a good time?

Q. Justin, for you, you played in '98 and I think that was your last team, Presidents Cup team since Fancourt, right? If it's wrong I can't finish the question.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I think that's right.

Q. Did you notice any difference in the level of intensity as it relates to the golf in that time difference?

JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, there probably was. You know, one, because the matches were so close. I think playing at Fancourt, you know, some very vocal supporters, I mean, they're great fans, but it's fun to kind of play on the road like that. I think that helps get you up. I think playing at home, it's obviously a lot easier flight for all of us, and I just remember from '96, the fans there were incredible. I think it's a pretty good sports town. They haven't had a whole lot to root for here recently. It'll be nice to hear a few cheers.

Q. This good summer, what would you say the key has been for you?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think putting in an effort and practicing and playing a couple more times. You know, I just got so used to, when I was younger, playing 16 or 17 events, but I practiced a little more and I was able to really bounce back quicker. I don't have that in me anymore. I try all kinds of ideas, and this year was more, when I was home, just to go hit a bucket of balls and just keep swinging and where I could feel a little better.

Then when I played, I've been driving the ball very, very well. My short game, I was laughing because I was telling Justin the other day that at Pinehurst and the British Open, I very rarely chipped. They had everything shaved. So my chipping is horrendous. I was hoping they'd shave everything at Baltusrol, too. It would have been a big factor. But that's what's killing me. So that is really a goal, to get around there and walk around and chip on this course because there's some undulation on those greens and you've got to know where to go a little more than several courses.

It's not an impossible course, RTJ, but if you're in the wrong spots you've got some difficult shots from some spots. But for me, driving it and just playing more than I have been.

Q. Still wearing that brace?

FRED COUPLES: I have it on, yeah?

Q. Right now?


Q. Are you an honorary member at RTJ?

FRED COUPLES: I think so.

JUSTIN LEONARD: Don't lie. You know.

FRED COUPLES: I think I am. Am I? Would you know, Verds?

Q. Why are you?

FRED COUPLES: Why wouldn't I be?

Q. Well, I mean, why?

FRED COUPLES: I think the PGA TOUR called in I think one year, and I was the one chosen, I think. I'm not really sure, to represent and be a member at RTJ?

Q. How much have you played there?

FRED COUPLES: Once or twice, but I live in California?

Q. Do you have a locker?


Q. One more thing in relation to this tournament. Last week there was a 650 yard hole, this week 667. Are those totally different, the way you approach those two?

JUSTIN LEONARD: For me, no. I miss the fairway, I make six or seven, and if you hit the fairway, then hit some kind of wood down there, then I might have a chance of making 4. But no, it's pretty much the same approach for me.

FRED COUPLES: I'd rather play the 17th at Baltusrol any day. This one here is one of my least it's one of the toughest par 5s not least favorite. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just long and the fairway is hard to hit and they usually have some rough here. But like Justin said, last week if you missed the fairway really Thursday and Friday, I don't think you could have gotten it over but after people in the gallery were trampling, but even media and marshals walking the grasses trampling, you get a good lie on Saturday or Sunday. Here the green is tiny. I thought Baltusrol was basically just a long par 5 but nothing real difficult?

Q. Can you see a 700 yarder in the future?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I don't think it matters. You hit a good drive and a 2 iron and a wedge.

Q. Did you ever like 16 here better when it was shorter in say the early '90s? Could you reach it in two?

FRED COUPLES: I've gone for it once or twice. I'd rather him play the hole every time for me because he's going to hit the fairway and hit it perfect. I swing as hard as I can, and whether you miss the fairway by a yard or 20 yards, it's a very difficult layup. You have to hit really, on that hole, three really good shots.

At Baltusrol a lot of these holes that are 650 with a bigger green, it's really not a hard hole. I think this one, even little holes like the 15th at Harbour Town is a very, very tough par 5 if you don't get it in the right spots.

If we keep playing 660 yard holes and they're doable I don't think it's that big of a deal.

Q. It's a hard third shot when it's dry out here?

FRED COUPLES: It's a hard hole. It's hard to stop it on the green or get it close. You've always got the water in front if you're close and then you're long and then you have no chip. Again, it's a very hard hole?

TODD BUDNICK: Fred and Justin, thank you, and good luck this year, and if you guys will hold on, we have Captain Nicklaus coming up here next.

End of FastScripts.

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