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December 9, 2004

Fred Couples


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Good solid day out there and a little different than the practice rounds

FRED COUPLES: Yeah it was a will beautiful day we did play lift, clean and place, which I think we'll probably do tomorrow to. And that was a little bonus. Playing very long, I don't know, you guys have been here a year, and there are a lot of holes that are normally 8s and 9s that were 6s and 7s. I played a really good round of golf. I think I hit every green, but the 12th, the par 3 and I had a lot of birdie putts to go over that, I hit it about 12 feet on the fourth hole.

And then I missed a very short one on 9 for birdie from about three feet and I turned around and made about a 20-footer on 10. And then 3-putted 14 from about 40 feet and turned around and made a bomb on the hole over the water. I was probably 35 feet, and then hit a couple good shots on the next hole and the bunker and blasted out to about five feet and made it, and then parred the last two.

Q. Could you talk about why you play so well here?

FRED COUPLES: In off-season events? Well, I've been in this two times and I've had make one good shot at doing well but most of the events I play in are team things and I enjoy them.

You know, they are a lot of fun and they are very peaceful and they are not six days of grueling golf most of them and it's pretty quick. This is more of a small field, obviously 16 guys, but I look at it as some day, you know, Tiger is going to have a tournament, it's a PGA tournament, but he'll have one of the 44 that we have like Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus have with his name on it, so basically this is a huge event. There's no silly season about it. You're playing on a championship-caliber course. There are obviously a few guys missing, but it's still a stacked field, and you know, why I do well? I mean, I think it's just a short period of time. You know, I mean, when I stopped playing my best quite a few years ago, I just ran out of really being consistent and then you starting to down, and unless you come up, you don't play that well for a year, but at the end of the year, you know, a Skins Game, I'm beating three people. The UBS, you know, Arnold Palmer is the captain, I've always wanted to play in that. Skipped it last year because my back was no good but that was a fun time. You know, you want to win in all of these things but they are mostly a good time and you have partners and certainly not like a Ryder Cup, but again, getting back, this is a big tournament, and I think there's no luck involved in playing four rounds here and winning.

Q. You've had to come back from a lot of injuries in your career, is there any advice you can give Furyk about coming back?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I don't really know Jim -- I know Jim. I haven't seen enough of him this year. I know I played last week and he did play a few times. Is his wrist bothering him at certain times? I don't know.

For most people, there's the old coming back too soon. But for me, it's there all the time and you know, I don't look at it as a big deal. I look at having the wrist injury, you know, that's a big deal if it doesn't heal or if it bothers you, but for me, the biggest problem is it comes at inopportune times several times and you just kind of go with the flow. But if I was 34 years old and in my prime, which I was when my back went out and I skipped Augusta, that's a tough thing to take, but now you know, I think you look at like Davis Love who pulled out of East Lake or Jim Furyk or someone like Rocco, other people, it's just a nagging thing and you just live with it.

But there have been other guys such as Dan Pohl who was one of our top players for a few years in a row and he never really came back so that's a tough thing to handle. But I feel like I'm lucky.

Q. Could Jim be one of the guys that maybe doesn't get appreciated enough or flies under the radar a little bit?

FRED COUPLES: I wouldn't argue that. But as a golfer, I see him all the time. I think his game's phenomenal. Well, I think, yeah, I think -- I don't know why that is. He's not someone who has the charisma as a Tiger Woods or John Daly or Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els, you know and there's Retief Goosen, who has, you know, not many words to say, and he let's his golf do the talking. I kind of see those two as the same. You know, people look at Retief Goosen, yeah, he's a very good player. Yeah, the guy is a phenomenal player. Jim Furyk coming off an injury didn't win this year; right? So as an innocent bystander, not a big deal. The guy wants to get healthy and he's got plenty of years to go, but he's got a ton of respect from the guys he played with and then coming down Saturday and Sunday, but if you're out there and you're going to watch a tournament, and then you say, hey, Jim Furyk is over there, John Daly is over here, you know, most people are going to venture and find John Daly. You've got to live with that. But there's a lot of guys that people don't quite understand how good they are. He doesn't hit the ball 300, he doesn't swing like Ernie Els. But, you know, he hits the ball like Byron Nelson. He's very long and very straight and he's got a great game.

Q. Talk a little about major championship preparation, the difference between now and five years ago?

FRED COUPLES: You know, major championships I think are -- I personally think they are prepared for by playing maybe one extra practice round. So if I go play the L.A. Open, I've played 20 years in a row there, I can show up and play the practice round nine holes on Tuesday and play the Pro-Am. If I'm going to the U.S. Open at Riviera for some reason, you play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and you wear yourself out and then you start out, you know -- so what I'm getting at is I think they are mostly mental toughness, dealing with those.

I think that -- you know Augusta. Guys are all over the place, playing every day, then they go over to the par 3. By the time the tournament starts, mentally you've got to be tougher than everyone else. And in a way, well, yeah, I'll say accept a bogey and not make double. I mean just playing golf course and going through everything and doing that.

The preparation, if you get Ernie Els going into it as good as he is, he's going to be ready to play and he'll know if he's not. There's not much he can do about it but he's still going to be a factor. If you get someone like Shaun Micheel going in there knowing he's playing well, he may have three good days get in the hunt and then play a fabulous last day and win. So, nowadays, it can happen, anyone can really win. It's just how you do on Saturday and Sunday and when you do well, you're going to have a great shot at winning.

Q. Were you disappointed you didn't get the job, Ryder Cup Captain?

FRED COUPLES: I'm disappointed. I think Jay and I had talked a little bit about maybe being co-captains and he asked me if I ever called -- what's his name?

Q. M.G. Orender.

FRED COUPLES: Maybe that's why I didn't get it. I'm a little blank. (Laughter.) What is it?

Q. M.G. Orender.

FRED COUPLES: Not JD. Be polite on that. (Laughter.) And I asked him the same and he said, I didn't have really the guts to call and throw myself out there. So I think they picked a great guy.

In my opinion, and that's why I say I felt like it would be fun to do, I really think anyone can do it. I don't get the hoopla of having a big worry about who we pick, whether it's me or Brad Faxon or Tom Lehman or Jack Nicklaus. You know, it's really what you do with the team when you get there. And I felt like you know, I liked the golf more than the other stuff. I always have. And if I was ever captain, I would cut out a lot of stuff and worry about the golf and not let everyone's mind get frustrated. I think the Europeans do the same thing. But it's just an opinion. Everyone's got one and I think that when you go to a Ryder Cup, and you're doing all of this extra stuff, you get a little frustrated and you get a little edgy and you get a little antsy, you know, the captain is there to protect you and we have great captains. I think Hal Sutton did absolutely the best he could. We got whooped, but to say Tom Lehman, I think he's going to be phenomenal. But whether he's up and a rooter or a fighter, and I'm very laid back, is irrelevant to a player like Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods cannot care less if I'm the captain or Tom Lehman. I don't mean that flippy, but I just mean, I can't help Tiger Woods play. But if I can say, hey, there's one less dinner to go to -- and that's the way I was looking at it. That's just what I see.

Q. So when you prepare for 2008 --

FRED COUPLES: You know, I'm sure -- I'm sure after the next one, there will be some names. I know Paul Azinger I think is going to get it which is, yeah, I think he's phenomenal, too. So my time, you know, Corey Pavin, Davis Love is up there. I would have loved to have gone. But I hope to keep playing and maybe be on the team. I mean everyone says that, I might as well say it, too. (Laughter.)

Q. Did you watch it this year, Fred?


Q. What did you think? What was the lasting image of this Ryder Cup, for you?

FRED COUPLES: The lasting image, probably any every heart and Donald Trump on the stage before the thing started. (Laughter.) That was the lasting image, because the golf wasn't very close, so that's -- I just watched the opening ceremony and that was different. Very different.

End of FastScripts.

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