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August 25, 2004

Fred Couples


LAURY LIVSEY: We're here with Fred Couples, his first appearance at this course, at this tournament since 1994, just finished his Pro-Am round, played with Coach Calhoun and Kenny Mann and a couple of others.


LAURY LIVSEY: Why don't you talk about how you played today and generally how your game is.

FRED COUPLES: I played okay. The golf course is great. The fairways and greens, the fairways are a little lush but the greens are firm. I think if we get no rain, that's going to be a challenge by the end of the week. But the golf course is very, very nice. My game is mediocre at best. I played really well at Memorial and Westchester and went to the U.S. Open, and my back started bothering me and I didn't play very well there.

Realized that it's just you get ready for some tournaments, and not that I was ever thinking I could win the U.S. Open, but the way I was playing, I felt like after Westchester, I could go in there and be under the radar and really do well. I got very frustrated, I went home and stayed home for eight weeks and skipped the British Open and the PGA. Mainly the British Open because I went out to try and practice and my back was still killing me; and the PGA because I had been off so long and I just didn't feel like I should take someone's spot, whoever it might be to get in there and that I could compete at all, so I just decided not to go.

And then the World Series I played because there was no cut and I needed to start playing somewhere, and I felt like I did all right.

Now I've played Tuesday and today. You know, it's just, it's okay. That's about all I can tell you. I feel pretty good. But, you know, I just was very frustrated. I thought it was pretty good to get away from golf for ate weeks. We went on vacation and blah, blah, blah. But mainly, I'm just starting to realize that the older I get, the less I play well, and even when I do play well, I don't know how long it's going to be for. But at the same time, I feel lucky because I am able to semi-compete and play golf.

And I have a back problem, which some people have a hip problem or a heel problem or an arm problem or a head problem, and I feel like mine is a hindrance because I get by. Like anyone else, I get sick and tired of talking about it, because sometimes I think I should be doing better than I am, and it's just not the case. I play as much as I feel like I can to get through a year, and it seems like it's just never an easy thing. Sometimes I try and play two weeks in a row and skip a few weeks. Other times I try and play a week and skip a week and hopscotch it and you never get any rhyme and reason.

So that's why I got very frustrated because I played probably better than I ever played at Memorial and Westchester, it's one of my favorite courses and I know how to get around there. I lost the playoff by a couple shots. One time I had a putt to tie for the lead on 18.

Then two days later, I go practice and my swing doesn't feel the same. And I didn't do anything, it's just the way my body goes. You know, it just wasn't much fun to even be out there.

And now I'm no better. I'm not playing like I was, but I feel like I'm a little healthier and I'm going to try and play just another couple more times after this.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: Everyone out here plays, and I've been doing it a long time, and even if I went home and practiced and played, I can't bounce as quickly as I used to. You know, I take time off. I like to get away from the game. But my body just doesn't, you know, go bang-bang where I can go hit balls for two or three days and really get it back quickly. Now it takes three or four days of playing and maybe a couple days of practice because I can't just overhaul it.

So, the catch, there is no catch. I mean, it's just part of the deal. But it's not like I think I should do better than I'm doing, I just want to do better than I'm doing. And sometimes I try and turn it on and things go well, but they don't last very long, because I'm over -- I'm just overdoing it. And what is that? That might be playing two weeks and practicing. Guys do that in their sleep.

You know, it gets frustrating. But not to a point where -- it's not a big deal for anybody. It's my problem. But at the same time, I have something that could have put me away for two or three years where some guys have major, major problems. I've been able to go away, but as I get older, I don't have the bounce-back. That's a small problem, and as I get older, I'm going to have no bounce-back, so then I'm going to have to figure out if I really want to do it.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, it could be as much as coming and jumping off that and hitting the ground and then something will happen. It's not like I can't play. You know, sometimes I do things where I have to physically withdraw and go home or lie in bed and let it thaw out. But it's so subtle. I've had some exercise routines where I come to tournaments and do that, and by doing things, I'll pull something. I don't feel good. It's not a big deal when I walk around; I toss and I turn. I'm just uncomfortable.

When you're uncomfortable playing golf, you don't do well. When you're uncomfortable walking around, trying to play golf, it just becomes a nightmare. I feel like I get the ball around. I know how to do that. As long as I don't make doubles or triples, I can get the ball around and I fool myself into thinking I'm doing better than I'm really doing.

But at Memorial and Westchester, I started to hit the ball exactly where I was looking and it was really fun. I think I maybe overdid it. I was going to the press room, I was teeing off at two o'clock, which I haven't done in years, or maybe once or twice a year, but not two weeks in a row. And then the U.S. Open, the tournament everyone gets psyched up for, I'm the complete opposite.

You know, the every day, it's not like I can't come out tomorrow and shoot 65 or 66, no. But I can come out and play really, really well and then not do well, not on a Sunday, but on a Thursday or a Saturday. But I can live with that. I have no problem with not maybe feeling at my best.

But the problem is, when I want to go play and I want to practice, I have no control over my body telling me, oh, go ahead and do it. I mean, Vijay -- to do well, you've got to practice. There are a lot of guys that really bang a lot of balls. When I really played well, I liked to do a little bit of both. I played a lot and I practiced a little bit and I was able to really work on stuff quickly.

Now, I certainly didn't overdo it, but now I really don't do anything.

Q. Are you able to work out and stretch when you are on the road?

FRED COUPLES: No. The reason being, I'm just so brittle, I like to do stuff when I'm at home. Because then if I don't feel good, I can continue to do it and I don't have to worry about golf. A lot of times I go in there and I do stuff -- I mean, they will work on me, but I don't go in there and actually lift balls and toss or turn because I can't take the grind. I used to think, seven or eight years ago when I hurt myself, I used do it. But now when I do it, it doesn't do me any good.

Q. Will you ever go in to see the trainers in the fitness trailers?

FRED COUPLES: You know, if something really feels bad, they know where to go and they will try to loosen it up. I'm not making a bigger deal out of it than it is, because I can go out tomorrow and play golf like Vijay Singh, but I can't do it for six months. So that's my part of the problem.

It's not my back. It's just I want to have a nice streak, you know. So if I came and played World Series, here and Boston where I could tell myself, I'm going to cruise through this and really play well and then I'll go home, that's not the way it works.

But to go into the fitness trailer and do all that in a way, I couldn't do that. I mean, my back is very brittle and very old, and it's -- no, they really can't hurt it, but when I'm really bad, they will go in there and loosen it up.

Q. What's your schedule for the rest of the year after Boston?

FRED COUPLES: I'm going to play San Antonio and Vegas and that's it. Every year, I'm going to try and have another good year next year, and that's my goal. It's not much of a goal. But I don't plan for anything anymore. If I was going to stay I was going to start off next year with a bang, I could be banged up in 36 holes. So there's no reason for me to tell anybody anything.

You know, it used to be, I want to be prepared every time I play and if I'm not driving it well, when I get here, I'll go work on my driver. But I'm not going to go hit balls and putt and chip, but I'll go work on what I always thought was the weakest part at that time. And now, I just basically play and I'm just another guy on the Tour, but I feel like I can win one more time.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: No, I appreciate all that. Can you say -- I get in a bitchy mood, I get in a bad mood. But if you came into this tournament and you wanted to interview 20 guys and you didn't interview them, you'd go home in a bad mood, too. I come to these tournaments and I want to compete and I go away Sunday, how can you be in a good mood? I'm not here for a handshake.

But at the same time, I know everything has got to go right for me to be in the Top-10 on Sunday. So when I come play, I expect to do well. You know, there are times like last week, I just went to play and, you know, I was playing better than I thought and it was a lot of fun.

And then on Sunday, I hit the ball everywhere. You know, so I live with it and I got through it, and semi-laughed about it. But normally, I get in a bad mood when you play like that.

Q. Can you pinpoint your popularity with the fans and the gallery?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I wonder about that all the type. I like Coach Calhoun, I don't know him. I like his program, I like the way his kids play. Some people like the way I play golf. Some people like the fact that I don't wear gloves. I wear Ashworth clothing. It's not me. They don't know me from Adam. It's just they like golf and they like me. And I like that part of it, I think it's fun.

I think it would be no fun to come out here tomorrow and play in front of four people. At least I still have a crowd that comes out and watches. I know I'm an idiot a third of the time, it used to be half of the time, but that's the way I am.

I still try and acknowledge a few people and you can't do that, either. When I really played well, I wouldn't really look at anybody because once you shake someone's hands, they all think they can shake your hand.

Now, I try and at least look around because you're, you know, I'm in the gallery half the time with my tee shot, so I'm close to them. I do like that. I play in the Par 3 Shootout and I got in the Skins Game and I'll play in a few other things, because those are really, really fun, and there are people there that expect you to do well and have a good time. So, it's a fun time all the time. I couldn't care less if I go to the Skins Game and win one skin or all of them. It's still fun to be there with Tiger and it's going to be Adam Scott and Annika.

And when I come here, I have a great pairing tomorrow. I play with Tim Herron and Nick Price. There will be a lot of people following us. I still get nervous to play. I still enjoy playing. And I'm not 35 years old or the top of my game. I'm learning that, you know, there are some much better players.

I just played with Bill Haas yesterday, who is phenomenal. I'm playing with him this week; so that's fun. I'm going to try and pick his brain and talk to him after his round and see if I can learn anything, you know, not just him learn something from me. Because yesterday we played, he never really missed a shot and I liked the way he plays. He plays real fast. He doesn't think a whole lot, and that's kind of the way I feel like you need to do it.

A week like this, it's fun. I haven't played here in ten years; I don't really know why. I have no problem with the golf tournament or the golf course. My caddie lives 40 minutes from here, his family comes to Westchester which I play, but it is a very nice cars course. It's tough, I love par 70s, and if anything, I think I missed out by not being here. But there are other tournaments that I have not gone to for other reasons, but this one here, it's a great spot.

The hill, putting in the 18th green in the clubhouse might be tough when there's 30,000 people waiting for an autograph and you have to go up a hill like this to stand there. But the golf course is phenomenal. I think it's one of the better TPCs that we play. It's very challenging and very play.

Q. Do you notice anything different from being here ten years ago, besides the technology?

FRED COUPLES: I don't remember if it was a par 70. I don't really know if they have changed it, because the ball is going so far and instead of lengthening holes, they just made one a par 4 instead of a par 5.

I don't know much physical difference in the course from '94 to today, but yeah, the ball is going a long way and the 18th hole is still a great finishing hole and so is 17. The hole back nine is a great nine holes. I remember hitting a lot longer irons into the 18th green and that's just normal. I mean, look at the World Series last week. That was one of our longest golf courses and you used to hit 2-, 3-, 4-irons to several par 4s. And now, weather playing a part, you may only hit one or two 4- or 5-irons. There's still some long par 3s.

But everything, I mean, in the next few years, all of these U.S. Opens, the par 4s are going to be, unless they are cute little holes, they are going to be 460 to 500 yards. I think that's okay. There are short holes that think those holes are extremely long, but in reality, you have to have guys hitting 3- and 4-irons to par 4s. Otherwise, and that doesn't necessarily mean you need eight inches of rough and rock hard greens. That's how they can trick these golf courses up. This golf course by Sunday if we get no rain, I think it's going to be a very tricky little course. Now, if it was 7,400 yard and a par-70, it would be unplayable. But it's a very good yardage. It's got some very good holes, some birdie holes and some holes you can make bogey or double with just a little slip of an iron. I think that makes it a very good course. But the ball is going a long way.

Thanks, you guys.

End of FastScripts.

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