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January 26, 2005

Fred Couples


JOE CHEMYCZ: Maybe just talk about your round today.

FRED COUPLES: Well, I really enjoyed Tamarisk. It's one of my favorite courses down here. I was on the range yesterday telling John that I believe the lowest score I've ever shot in this tournament was at Tamarisk, 64. I drove the ball really well. You know, the longest putt I made was eight feet. I hit a lot of good short irons and made seven birdies without any bogeys, and it was a good day.

Q. Fred, 7-under today. You find yourself right now a shot back. Is that pretty much exactly what you would have expected for the first round of this tournament?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I think I teed off early, so there's probably maybe some more guys that are going to go ahead, maybe one even will get lower than 8. You can't look around too much. You've just got to go play the courses.

I didn't know if I was going to shoot 7-under, so I'm excited about that. Tomorrow I go to LaQuinta, which I believe has played the hardest of the golf courses here since they've lengthened it. So in two good ways that's good because if I can shoot a pretty good score, I'm going to lose ground, but I'm going to get what I consider to be a very difficult course, and if I can shoot a very good round, then that's even better.

You can't go around thinking you're going to shoot 7-under out here every day. What I'm trying to pay attention to is how I'm hitting the ball and what I did well today is I really drove the ball well, compared to San Diego, which I was everywhere. And today I seemed to hit the ball long and straight, and the course played easy.

Q. What is it about the Tamarisk you like so much?

FRED COUPLES: It's just a pretty course, the homes on the edge of the course. It's old school, a good driving course, small greens, a little elevated, and it just reminds me of a lot of courses that I enjoy. I'm not comparing it with Riviera, but I just compared it to a really good old golf course.

Q. Did you almost leave Torrey Pines too early?

FRED COUPLES: Joey and I took off after we played. On Friday I finished my 9th hole. I made birdie to get to 4-under, and then I didn't think there was anyway, the way it looked, that I was going to make the cut. And my caddie didn't think so, either. And we drove -- we got about three quarters of the way here, and then Johnny called us, Johnny from the recording thing, and said, "You know, they're still playing, but it's good and dark and it looks like you guys may end up making the cut. You're tied for 64th".

So we turned around and spent five hours in a car because we wanted to get back out there and practice Saturday and watch football on Sunday. It's not like I went in an airplane cross country, but I did turn around in the car.

Q. Who did you say told you?

FRED COUPLES: Johnny, who records the scores. He was nice enough to take my number, and if there were any changes he was going to call, and out of the blue it jumps about four spots in about 20 minutes, and obviously that has a lot to do with -- (inaudible).

Q. Did you see anything in the way you were playing this week to see that this was coming up for you?

FRED COUPLES: To be honest, I was playing very, very well, and I was excited about playing. I've changed companies to Bridgestone, and when I got to San Diego I played with them in the Pro-Am. I was trying to get used to them and I hit too many balls Wednesday and I woke up Thursday and my back was killing me, and I started driving the ball very high and to the right and not getting through it.

I hadn't hit a shot like that in a long time. I did the same thing Friday. And then finally on Sunday, when we played all that golf, I just said, you know, even if you're going to die, I've got to start swinging the right way, even though my body -- it's going to be a lot of work. I know how to swing, but sometimes when my back stiffens up I can't do it. I did it on Sunday afternoon. I shot 68, and I came here with one nice practice round. I took Monday off to relax, and I thought I'd play well, and what I did was I drove the ball well, which is a big deal for me.

Q. Between the fog last week down in San Diego and the drizzle today, make you feel like you're back home in Seattle?

FRED COUPLES: Last week was pretty unbelievable. Today turned out to be a really great day for golf. We're going to get some weather, but today was okay. Last week was something you very rarely experience. I just have never seen anything like that, where it would roll in and we were dodgy on Sunday, whether we should play or not, but everybody was excited that we finished and got out of there, and now we're here and everything is fine.

Q. Can you refresh us how many holes you played on Sunday?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I played 29 holes, and I shot 75 on the third round and didn't play all that well. And then I went and hit balls -- I was waiting for the shuttle in between rounds, and that's when I hit about 20 balls, and I said, You know, I'm just going to try and swing the way I should. It was a good little tune-in. I went out on the course and I actually played an extremely good round of golf. It was kind of irrelevant, because all I did was move up from 70th to wherever I finished, but mentally I went back to hitting the ball well, and it helped today.

Q. With your back the way it is, in and out as it sometimes is, are those kind of delays that you had last week, are those your worst nightmare?

FRED COUPLES: My worst nightmare -- those are days when I can practice. If I can practice an hour to an hour and a half each of those days, that's six hours of practice. What I did at San Diego was really stupid. There was no reason for me to stand there and just pound balls like that, because there's only one thing that's going to happen, and it's not good. That was my fault.

My back has been feeling better. You know, it's just one of those things. I get tired of talking about it, but I've learned to deal with it, and sometimes I go through stretches where I don't play very well, and a lot of it is because I don't feel -- a lot of it is because I don't practice that hard.

I've learned to take what good I get and get on a natural roll and develop it. I'm 45 and I'm fine with that. If I was 34 years old, in the prime of my golfing, and it was like this, I would really look at it as being a hindrance, but at my age, I do do well for periods of time. But I was the one who hit too many balls, but I do feel much better now and I'm going to see a lady up in Palm Desert right now who's going to work on it for another hour, and hopefully she'll be around the whole week.

Q. Just one thing about the equipment. You said you switched to Bridgestone?

FRED COUPLES: I use Bridgestone irons and the ball, and I'm trying to work the irons. Right now I don't have them, but that's where I'm going. I have a couple Bridgestone clubs. I'm carrying a Bridgestone bag, visor and golf ball and irons.

Q. You talked about hitting too many balls. Aren't you old enough now to know better than that?

FRED COUPLES: Around Christmas I got some new clubs and I was excited to hit them. And yeah, I mean, I was laughing at the time, but I'm not laughing now. But yeah, I know better. It was Christmas time. I was getting all these goodies and I wanted to take advantage of it and went out there. I really played poorly the first couple rounds, and I'm hoping to start feeling better. I'm going to take next week off, and that should be a big help, and hopefully I'll continue to play.

JOE CHEMYCZ: We appreciate your time, Fred. Would you mind going through your birdies for us.

FRED COUPLES: Okay. I started on the back and I parred -- I birdied 13. Hit a good drive and a 9-iron to about three feet.

Then I went to No. 16 and I hit a good drive and another 9-iron to about four feet.

Then on 18, a par 5, I laid up and I hit a sand wedge to about four feet.

Then I went to No. 1 and hit a good drive and a 6-iron to about 20 feet and two-putted for birdie.

No. 4, I hit a drive and a 3-iron to about 40 feet and two-putted for birdie.

No. 6, I hit a drive and a sand wedge to eight or nine feet, made it for birdie.

Then No. 9, hit a drive and an 8-iron to about eight feet, made that for birdie.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Fred, we appreciate it. Thank you.


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