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June 5, 2005

Fred Couples


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Fred Couples, thank you for joining us. We appreciate you coming in. Tough finish for you, but you've got to tip your hat to Bart Bryant. He played very well this week, and you played well this week as well. Let's start with some opening comments on a good week for you.

FRED COUPLES: Actually I had a great week. Bart was right in front of us, and he drives the ball so well, and obviously he's a good putter.

I'm very pleased; I hit the ball extremely well today. You know, I don't really know what to say. I hit a lot of quality shots, and the back nine was truly a lot of fun. The front nine is kind of I didn't really shoot what I could have on the front. I actually struggled on a couple holes and actually thought I was going to make birdies on. One was 7 again, I had two beautiful shots and it trickled through the green just where I had to pitch it over a bunker, and when you don't play much, your short game kills you and I ended up not making it on the green but making par.

8, I hit a beautiful iron up against the collar, and I was just trying to lag it down there and I left it four feet short going straight down the hill and I missed that.

But from 9 on, I didn't really miss a shot.

Then the 6 iron I hit on 16 I thought was a beautiful shot. I was not trying to get cute, I was just trying to get it out to the right and ride the wind, and it was going right at the flag and was short, a yard short, which is not very good.

And then on 17, at the time I heard someone say he hit it in the water on 18, and I had about a ten footer for birdie right up the hill. I hit what I thought was a good putt, it just didn't break, caught the edge.

Then on 18, if anything, I felt a little bit pressured trying to hit a different kind of a shot, nothing crazy, but I figured if I hit it to the right, there's no way you can make that putt, and I tried to actually hold it up against the wind, and I got it riding with the wind, and left of the green is no good. You know, a little bit had to do with the shot I hit on 16, but I would have loved to have had a birdie putt, but I didn't.

As I said, Bart deserved to win. It was nip and tuck with four or five people, and then we pulled ahead, and I had a great time. I can't really kick myself too hard. You know, there are a lot of shots out there and there are a lot of things that I did to save shots, too, but overall I just needed one more putt.

Q. How bad was your lie on 18 there?

FRED COUPLES: In the rough, it wasn't a bad lie, but it's either going to go in or go down the green. I wasn't going to play it left and try and Paul Azinger it in there. It's a totally different shot.

I think I had a big lead over 2nd, and I figured you're not going to make it, but you never know, and if it doesn't it's going to go down to where it went, and I thought I could three putt from there and still finished second. Instead it went in. It's a little disappointing to hit that shot. But really you can't get it hooking with the wind. I mean, there's no way to control that, and anything really past or right of the hole, I just felt like it would be nice to have a birdie putt, but I just didn't feel like you could make a 30 foot right to left ten feet of break putt, and I just didn't pull it off.

Q. When you say you tried a different kind of shot on 18, was it a shot you practiced in the practice rounds?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I fade the ball, but when you're uphill and you're judging the wind, I was trying to hit what I thought would be you know, I don't want to say a perfect shot, but I was trying to hit a shot that if I hit it right, it would hold up into the wind and probably maybe be short of the hole. Anything past the hole like David's putt, I mean, it's just you're better off there than left of the green, I understand that.

But I was trying to hit it within 10 or 15 feet of the hole. I mean, I'm not standing there trying to hit a shot I don't know how to hit; I was just trying to cut it back into the wind, and instead I hit it straight and it rode the wind left of the green.

Q. I was wondering what you hit into 17 and 18.

FRED COUPLES: Wedge on 17. I hit a great shot, rolled up on the slope of that bunker, and I couldn't have got it there if I was in the middle of the fairway, where the ball ended up. So it was very, very nice.

Q. What was your yardage on that? You choked all the way up on that club.

FRED COUPLES: 149, and I hit a wedge.

Q. And then what did you hit into 18?

FRED COUPLES: 176 on 18, and I hit a 6.

Q. You hit two perfect shots at 15, and then how about the putt?

FRED COUPLES: I just made a nice right to left putt on 14, same distance. This one was straight downhill, and I took so long over it, I didn't know whether to baby it or hit it firm, and I panicked. I just hit it too hard for the line. But when I was over it, I was thinking, do I want to firm this not firm it where I hit it five feet by, and I ended up almost doing it anyway. But I missed about a two and a half footer for birdie there on the first day, almost the same putt, and I just flushed it, a little edgy and a little nervous, and it would have been nice to make.

But at the same time, the shot was it was a hell of a shot. I was trying to go right at it, and I figured if it did anything, it would go long, but it didn't and kind of stopped. I don't really know how, but the greens really firmed up, but it was floating a little bit, and that was a big birdie to make there.

Q. You said your short game suffers when you don't play a lot, which is universal in golf. Did that affect any of your decision making at 18 or maybe down the stretch in terms of your putting?

FRED COUPLES: Well, no, but I think I mean, the 7th hole I hit into the wind two beautiful woods. It hit in the middle of the green, trickled through the green. I would have rather have it in the bunker but it rolled along the bunker. Most people are going to hit it up there eight feet is going to be a bad shot. It was a tricky little shot, but I puffed it up and it caught the rough and stayed short of the green and I didn't have a birdie putt. But that's one shot. But when you go out and you don't have always delicate shots, they become harder and harder.

I think I hit more greens this week than I've ever hit, and I didn't chip much. So it wasn't the hardest thing. And the one on 18 was I was never going to make that. It was a bad spot.

Q. You've had your back problems and share of physical issues, and Bart, of course, has had his share of medical problems. Do these opportunities, does that make it more special, the fact that you've had to overcome injuries?

FRED COUPLES: Not for me, no. I've played forever like this, and when I play the special part of it is playing this golf course well. Much better to have a shot at winning here than a lot of other places, and I get geared up for this tournament. The health problem is not I'm very lucky. I play a lot, I choose not to play a lot, but I play golf, and the hard part is maybe next year I'll have another shot at winning a tournament and it'll be The Memorial. I don't have any shot at any other event, but I do like it here (laughter).

You know, Bart has been through a lot, and he's a great, great player, and what a great victory. I can relate to winning here, and it'll be one he'll never forget.

Q. Could you reconstruct, in 1990 you had difficulty at the 18th hole in the third round. Could you reconstruct that, please?

FRED COUPLES: Is that when it was?

Q. Yeah. I think you went in the water or near the water.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I'll tell you. I was playing in I think the pouring rain with Don Pooley. No one was out there. We were in the last group, it was freezing, and I hit a drive down the left side. There were no marshals, nobody, and we didn't find the ball. So by not finding the ball, they couldn't tell me it went into the hazard. So I had to go back to the tee, went back to the tee, hit another one, made a 6, and I'm not going to embellish the story because I think I either fell two back or one back, and we came out the next day and we didn't play.

So if Don Pooley was here he'd pretty much tell you the same thing, and I was a little irate. Here we are in the last group, there's nobody down there, they can't tell me where the ball is. It was a big deal, and I got a little frustrated and I decided to skip it a couple years, which is my problem, and as I said yesterday, it was a huge mistake because if you look here, I think I played well here nine out of ten times. It just gave me a bad taste.

First, to be playing, the course was totally drenched. But we had one more hole, and blah, blah, blah, and I just didn't take it very good.

Q. What is your routine from here I have to ask a provincial question, your routine between here and Congressional? Do you take some time off?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I'm going to actually leave tomorrow, stay the night and hit a few balls on Tuesday and then go play in the Pro Am Wednesday. So I need to relax and just hit a few and not do too much.

Q. Is that to save the back basically?

FRED COUPLES: It's just a rest, yeah. Four weeks in a row, I don't know when I do that, but not very often.

Q. Do you jokingly say that you don't play well anywhere else but here, but why here do you play well all the time?

FRED COUPLES: I said it yesterday, this course I grew up in Seattle, and one of my first years on Tour, when you get to a course, it reminds you of kind of where you grew up, and it's certainly tree lined and very lush, which Seattle was the same type of weather. There aren't many courses likes this in Seattle, or none, but tree lined and beautiful greens, and when you play well at the start, I'm sure if you asked anyone in their careers, they seem to snowball, and that's pretty much why I only play 18 or 20 events. It's ones that I like, whether it's the course or the way I've gotten there before, and I don't venture out there too much. But now as I get older, I've picked up a few events, and it kind of gets you a little more refreshed.

Like I went to San Antonio a few years back, never seen the course and played well because you've got to be on your toes. When you come here or Riviera where I've played 20 years, 25 years in a row, you kind of play them blindfolded. But this course is there's 30,000 people out there every day and it's kind of fun, and I know Jack does a phenomenal job. So for players, there's not another course like this besides the TPC and the four majors.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Fred, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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