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June 5, 2004

Fred Couples


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome, Fred Couples, 4-under 68. Talk about your round today.

FRED COUPLES: I holed a 70-yard shot on 17, driver in the bunker, chipped out, made it.

It was a good day. I think I'm going to play with Ernie tomorrow, which -- I certainly love to play with any of these guys, but I've known Ernie a long time and it just was a fun day. Obviously he always plays well, and I hung in there, hit the ball really, really well and had a good day.

If anything, tomorrow for me personally will be I think a great day. I've been working on my game and it held up today. And again, this is a great golf course. You've got to hit a lot of good shots, otherwise you're going to pay the price. That's really about it. I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow, I have a great shot at winning. That doesn't happen very often, but it's not like it's going to be some pressure-packed day, because you just go out there and play your best. And I've got Ernie Els with me, Tiger Woods in front of me, K.J. Choi and Stephen Ames, who plays well every week, so for me, it's just another great round of golf to be played at Jack's course, and I love this place and I certainly would like to hit the ball well and make a few putts and see what happens like everybody else.

But again, going over the round, I wedged it in there about two feet on No. 5 and missed the putt, and that was -- as Ernie is birdieing every other hole.

7, I hit two great shots and had a bunker shot from right here, just staring right at the hole, and I fluffed it out of there on the fringe and chipped in from 12 feet, so that was a big -- it's nice to get under par.

And then I birdied the next hole, hit an 8-iron on the par 3 to about 15 feet, made it.

No. 10, I hit a 9-iron to about eight feet and made it.

No. 12, I hit it over the green, made a great little up-and-down.

Made a nice up-and-down on 13 from in front of the green in the rough.

Then 15, hit a 3-wood and a 4-iron to about 30 feet, two-putted for birdie.

Then on 16, I actually just kind of maybe felt a little bit of the pressure or went blank and hit a putt that I misread by five feet. It was breaking left to right, and I ended up six feet right of the hole and visibly not really looking for that, and I missed it.

I drove it in the pot bunker on 17 and had nowhere to go. I hit it out with a wedge to seven yards and made it.

Then I hit two good shots at 18 and made par.

I was in every hole. I wasn't all over the place and it was a good round.

Q. Was it important to do that, to be a little more steady and consistent today after the way you were all over before?

FRED COUPLES: For sure. It was windy today. There was still a little bit of breeze, but I started out well, and that helps. Yesterday I started out poorly, as we know. Today I started out well. I had birdie putts, good shots on every hole, really, all the way to No. 12, but I look forward to trying to do that tomorrow. I don't foresee it being easy, but today I did the same stuff, and it seemed doable.

Q. Do you get inspired with Ernie?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I love to play with Ernie. He's got such a beautiful swing and he hits it a mile. If I'm home watching TV, he's one of the guys that is fun to watch. He attacked the course today. He started out hitting driver and never let up. We went after it and played -- it was easy. He had a couple breaks, but it was an easy 66.

Q. Who's the bigger easy, you or Ernie?

FRED COUPLES: I would say he is right now because I can get pretty edgy the way I've been playing the last five years. I'm easier off the course.

Q. You talked yesterday about getting a little tense at times and concerned about your play. When you play with a guy like him, does it relax you to the point where you don't have to worry as much about getting tense and things like that?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think with me and when I get that tensed up, it's when you hit it all over the place, you're looking under trees and you're trying to figure out where to go, I mean, you get edgy.

A lot of times it's weird when I hurt myself, but usually when you're relaxed, it's okay. I try and stay relaxed, and today was a relatively easy day. I'm not saying my score was easy, but it had a lot of flow to it, and Ernie and I were both doing some good things, but it's hard to dive all over the place and work your back, and if you're swinging and hitting it well, very rarely have I ever hurt myself hitting the ball. That's what I meant by that yesterday. The tense part of it is just basically when you see a guy struggling, you can get a little edgy.

Q. The ball on the bank at 14, did that remind you at all of Augusta?

FRED COUPLES: You know, yeah, it did, but the whole week I kind of felt like if anything, you can go short on that hole, but I don't mean hit it on the bank. My ball hit on the green and was short the whole time and started to spin back, but you cannot go long there. Again, I only had 115 yards downwind and I kind of eased up on it, but once it starts spinning down the bank, yeah, I actually -- when I looked at it in the practice round, I assumed that it would not go in the water because there is quite a bit of grass there.

Q. Were you eager to get over there and hit it?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. It was a long way from going in, but at the same time it was a pretty weak shot, and I drew a very good lie and flipped it up there and made a nice little four-footer, but if he shaves the bank tonight I'm not going near it tomorrow.

Q. You make your own luck, but you've got to feel like fortune is smiling on you with everything that's happened this week, with 17 and the chip-in?

FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah, every time you look back and you do well in a tournament, you look at all these funny things that have happened. I made an 80-footer for eagle and chipped in, and chipped in yesterday, chipped in today, holed a 70-yard shot, so there's a lot of luck involved, and yeah, I had several of those each day.

Q. Does it even out?

FRED COUPLES: It'll even out if I start ricocheting them off the trees and into the junk, but I'm going to try and not do that. Yeah, they all even out, but next week they'll even out.

End of FastScripts.

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