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June 4, 2004

Fred Couples


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Freddie, for joining us for a few minutes. Kind of a crazy day out there. Why don't you just share with us the day.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, there was so many ups and downs and good shots and bad shots that after the first three holes I certainly didn't think I'd be sitting in here. There was so much luck that I had. I hit two pretty good shots on 17, and I trickled off the green by a couple inches and I decided to chip, and I chipped it strong about seven or eight feet by, six feet by, and I hammered that maybe three and a half feet by and I missed it for bogey to make double.

But going down 18, I said I've got so much the last two days that I can't really be disappointed with that. I would be if it was the 71st hole, but that's kind of how the day started. And I hit a couple good shots on 18, but you don't start bogey-bogey-bogey very often, but I was pretty much off. I didn't feel right, and I still didn't feel right on 4 and 5. And then on 6, I finally hit a good shot and actually made a putt from about 10 or 12 feet to break this momentum.

And then the next hole I hit a couple good shots through the green by four or five yards, and I chipped it in for eagle, which put me back to 3-under and even par, and then everything started going right and I started hitting the ball better, and I'm happy to be 6-under.

Q. Have you ever felt like this tournament owed you a win because of --

FRED COUPLES: Well, I won in 98. How about that? Do I feel like it owes me two wins? No, that was an odd thing. It was a long time ago. Luckily I got over it, and nowadays we'd be playing, but I don't know, I could have gone out and shot 75 on Sunday and certainly not given Greg much to shoot for, but no, I love the golf course. I did skip it a few times, but it's a great spot. Looking back, I probably wish I never would have skipped it, but I missed it a few years.

It's very tough. Some of the new greens or angles that he's put in there. I'm not so sure some of the bunkers are a big deal. You can get in them, but I played the 17th hole 3-over for two days. On the old hole it was much easier. If he continues that, someday they might be 2-under here at 36 holes.

Q. You mentioned not feeling right early today. You were talking on TV yesterday about doing something different with Butch. Are you still trying to groove that?

FRED COUPLES: No. Actually club behind the ball, that's not too difficult, so if the ball is here, normally I'm here and I've got the club about right here to help me turn away from the ball better. You know, I just didn't feel right. I didn't feel stiff, but I didn't feel great, and as we got out there a couple times on 6, 7 and 8, I started to kind of tense up. And my back just gets really, really tight, and after doing it so many years, you just kind of have to baby it. And to be honest with you, once I started doing that, I started to play a little bit better.

But the first few holes, I was jacked up ready to go, I just didn't have the sense or the feeling that I was going to hit a quality shot, and I didn't. But once I decided not to bend over too many times, I'm always stretching, my back just kind of goes in and goes out, and I just kind of live with it. But when I have back problems I feel different.

Q. Is that a confidence thing, the first three holes, or is it a combination you're not sure about your back and so that --

FRED COUPLES: No, I mean, the 1st and 3rd holes, with the way the wind was blowing, they weren't that difficult. I hit a terrible drive on 1, and I ended up trying to drive over the bunker but I got it on the front part of the green, but I three-putted from quite a ways.

2 is a good hole, but I hit a good drive and I just chunked an iron.

3 is a pretty simple hole, so it's not like you go over there thinking you're going to be 3-over, but your confidence is shattered a little bit, just the way I hit the ball, not by being a little bit off.

I got it up-and-down on 4 out of the bunker. But no, I always feel confident. Sometimes in the back of my mind I go out there and I haven't practiced or played enough to feel like I can hit shot after shot after shot because I had seven birdies and an eagle. Most of those were holes that I played really well. I got it over the par 5 in two, and if I hadn't chipped it in I would have made birdie. But basically, it was not hit and miss early, it was basically miss.

And the 17th hole, I really didn't -- I mean, I just kind of fell asleep, but I didn't hit bad shots, if there is such a thing as making a bad shot.

Q. I'm not sure how you did on the par 5s in 98 when you won here. I assume quite well. Do you have a certain number you try to reach overall for the week on the 5s? I guess in 2000 or 2001, Tiger was 14-under and the field was 2-under. What kind of number do you go for?

FRED COUPLES: Well, they're scattered out in pretty good spots. If you can get off to a good start and ride it well on the 5th hole you can go for it, but I didn't today, and I was playing so poorly.

Then you hit 7 and 11 and 15, they're all different holes. And No. 5, you have to hit incredible shots to knock it on there.

I bogeyed 10 today. I decided to hit driver, and I hit it -- knocked it on with a 3-iron, and I don't know how it got way down there, if the wind kind of switched, but I just decided to give it a go, otherwise it's a difficult three-shot hole.

With a wedge or a sand wedge you can certainly get it up-and-down or knock it on there stiff, but you can make birdies or you can make bogeys.

Q. Freddie, you were talking about babying your back at times. The story last year with you was obviously how you were rejuvenated and reenthused about the game and that you wanted to practice again. And I was wondering, how do you balance wanting to practice with wanting to be careful with your back? How have you gone about that?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I wish things would have been different. I mean, I still love to play. I play golf, but last year I pushed myself. I mean, at Wachovia, I was leading the tournament and my back went out. I certainly don't think I would have ended up winning. Maybe I would have, but it was just a bummer. I mean, I had four holes to go on Friday and I was 8 or 9-under on that golf course, and for the rest of the year from that point out I had all kinds of problems. I was out for four or five weeks it seemed like all the time.

I started to play a lot. This year I haven't clicked as much. I've seen Butch a number of times, and I've improved, but it's just a little bit off, and I feel like I'm able to make cuts, so I don't live and die on that, but there's more to it. So after three or four years of pretty poor golf, it was really a letdown to get injured or whatever, because it was mostly bending down and lining up putts or teeing the ball up. It was really never my swing.

So I've never been able to find a happy medium. I can take it easy, but I can also take it easy and then turn it on in practice, and sometimes it certainly helps, but it's just one of those deals.

Q. So these last two days are kind of like a microcosm of your last year and a half?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I don't feel bad. I know when it's coming, and I wouldn't say it's too far away.

Q. Playing well or the back?

FRED COUPLES: Well, hopefully both, but I don't know which is going to come first (laughter). Maybe Sunday night or whatever, but I went to Korea and my back went out on Tuesday, and I've never been able to come back somehow -- I ended up playing golf on Thursday and played the tournament and then went home for eight days and relaxed. I played the last couple days I was in Santa Barbara. But I got up from a chair at breakfast just like I'm going to get out of here, and I just froze and -- it's the weirdest thing. You would think you would slap it out of the rough and twist your back in half. That's never happened. It's usually the dumbest things. And so I walk on eggshells all day long and then I get out of a chair and my back goes out. I can go out and hit balls, which I'm going to try and go do, and I can get tired and my back can ache, but normally when I'm out of commission, it's goofy, crazy stuff.

Q. Getting out of the chair was in Korea at breakfast?


Q. Some guys' careers, they feel they're cursed by bad luck or they're blessed by good luck --

FRED COUPLES: No, I have great luck. If you've watched me play the last two days, I can do that for 24 years now. You make your own luck, as they say, but could I have won more -- yeah, I could have had more 2nd place finishes, too, I could have had better finishes all the time, but I'm not totally into whether I win 15 times or 30 times. You know, I enjoy playing.

Went to dinner at Davis' last night and a few people came over, and to me that's fine. It's a very lonely thing. This is not a whole lot of fun for me to walk around and think I can play pretty well. This is fun. If I can do this ten times a year, I'd do it the rest of my life, but when you're never in the lead and every now and then when you do well, it's not a whole lot of fun.

Lucky parts all pass, and I've gotten a lot of good breaks, but as far as having a back issue, if you asked me 15 years from now and I've quit and I can't straighten up, then I'll come back and tell you I should have stopped five years ago, but I don't think that will -- I hope it doesn't happen.

Q. What was your mental state after those first few holes? Can you still concentrate --

FRED COUPLES: I told my caddie, fortunately or unfortunately, we have 14 holes left (laughter), and knowing him, you know, he popped off and he said -- he said a few things, but he said let's look at it. Fortunately, you have a lot of holes left.

You know, I didn't picture a whole lot of easy holes after the first three, and to get whatever I was, 9-under from there on in, four of the holes I played with a couple bogeys and a double, so I felt pretty good about what I did. I'm hoping to hit it off the first tee tomorrow better and go from there, but as I said, it's a tough course.

However you get to 69, I mean, I could have made four birdies and a bogey. I'm not so sure I'd be better off to do what I did, because I hit some real good shots, and that's what I've been looking for. You know, these bogeys are happening, but coming up to the U.S. Open, I need to start hitting the ball better, otherwise I'll have a lot more bogeys there.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Let's quickly just take you through your card and we'll let you out of here.

FRED COUPLES: The first ball, I got it on the front part and three-putted from 40, 50 feet.

2, I hit a good drive off the tee but chunked an iron 20 yards short of the green and two-putted for bogey.

3, actually was pulled, but it hit the tree in the corner and ricocheted across the creek. Then I tried a stupid shot, hit it in the water, dropped it, knocked it on the green and made about a 15-footer for bogey.

6, good drive and a wedge, ten feet.

7, driver, 3-wood over the green, chipped in with a pitching wedge.

8, forgot that one. I missed the green, just off the green and chipped it in for about 30 feet.

9, hit a 9-iron 20 feet by the hole, made it.

10, hit it short of the green on the upslope of the bunker but had an easier chip than I would have in the bunker, and I blasted out to four feet and I missed it.

11, hit the driver and 3-iron on, 40 feet, two-putted.

13, hit a good 7-iron to about three feet, made birdie.

15, hit a good drive and pull-hooked an iron, went through the trees left of the green about 50 yards short of the green, and I made it up and made about a ten-footer, good up-and-down.

16, hit a good 5-iron to 12 feet and made it.

17, just off, chipped on, three-putted.

Thanks, you guys.

End of FastScripts.

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