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May 9, 2003

Fred Couples


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Fred, why don't we start with some comments about your round.

FRED COUPLES: I got off to a very good start. I was hitting the ball very crisp, very straight and hit a lot of fairways and then the wind started blowing. I just didn't really judge the wind as well as anyone would like out there. All of us in our group, we hit some squirrely shots. It seemed like a lot of it was just, it seemed like it was left-to-right and then it would help, then it would hurt.

I don't know, Nick ended up 1-under today, which I think is really a very, very good score. I know Faxon was up there, I watched the whole thing and Triplett was playing well and Duffy. So you're going to get guys shooting those scores, but I don't think there's any 66s or 67s out there if the wind stays 15 to 20 miles an hour. Just very tough to hit the ball close.

I was first up on 17, I didn't have a feel for it and I was trying to hit a save shot and actually hit it a little fat and it stayed short of the green and I chipped one there.

Then on 18, I felt like I had a decent drive and then the wind got going that way and went down underneath the green and bogeyed there.

Then I misplayed a shot on No. 2 trying to get cute and bogeyed there.

So I haven't made a bogey for a long time and I bogeyed three out of four holes and it wasn't getting any easier. So for me, I hung on and I think I parred in for every hole from 2 on. But I didn't have a whole lot of birdie putts, I had a couple, but not a whole lot of them. I feel good where I'm at.

Q. What happened on 17?

FRED COUPLES: On 17 I ended up hitting 6-iron, and it would have been the right club but I aimed it out to the right and got it up in the air.

Then on No. 2 it was a little 7-iron. The wind was howling straight in out of the left and the green is on the right side; and I was on aiming left and was just a little too far out to the right and hit a bunker shot that coming down hit didn't have much of a shot and not a smart shot. Over the green to the left, you're probably not going to make birdie. And I just bogeyed, two-out-of-three holes, I thought maybe I could get a little aggressive, and instead I got a little careless.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, not too difficult, you know, because this is a good time and I'm actually hitting the ball well and I knew I was going to be close, whether Nick birdied a couple more or whatever. You know, it's got this U.S. Open feel because it's such a hard course. You know pars are going to be premium and you're going to make some bogeys and you've got to make some birdies, as many as you can. That could be tomorrow or it could be maybe two or three birdies and you're going to have your share of bogeys.

Q. Did something happen after you hit a shot --

FRED COUPLES: Actually, a hole I hit a really good shot, 4, I actually did. I bent down to line up the putt. When I got up, I got just a pinch or a spasm and it was not feeling very well. Stood around, missed the putt and just was like -- broke out into a -- I know it's hot anyway -- but sweating like a hog and it was pouring off. I don't know if I got a little nervous or my body was telling me something.

Then I kind of massaged it around for a couple of holes, and I'm very tired and sore right but now I feel fine.

Q. So many guys are referring to this as U.S. Open type course, is that why we are seeing more veterans at the top of the leaderboard because you understand there's a premium on par and patience?

FRED COUPLES: Could be. I mean, I played with David Gossett and Ben Crane, who played very well. They are hanging in, I think David was 2-under and maybe Ben was even or 1-over and they were making birdies and playing very, very aggressive golf. You know, if you look back, maybe a shot here or there killed them where I was plodding along, but not a whole lot of difference. I was paying attention to try to hit as many fairways and so were they, but you know when you're in trouble.

And I think by playing very few courses like this, it's hard to accept bogey. Then when you make one, you've just got to make sure you don't make a stupid one. A bogey, even on the easiest hole or hardest hole, but you want to do it in a correct way. You just don't want to make some blunder.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I've never walked off the course, so I usually can play around it. If something horrible would have happened, I think I could have finished the round and then you go home and you hopefully wake up the next day.

But only one time at Doral, whatever year it was that, my back actually exploded and I couldn't move for a couple days. I actually stayed at Doral for two days and laid in the bed. But this just happens a lot and I think because it was hot, I was able to kind of get out of there.

Q. Can you talk about, can you feel how happy the fans are that you're playing well again and back on top of the leaderboard? They are just following you, big crowds out there today.

FRED COUPLES: There's a lot of people out. We had a good gallery. Yeah, they are rooting very hard for me and everyone else, but I can definitely sense that when you hit a good shot, they want you to birdie all 18 holes. But it's fun. I mean, it's very fun to play and have people screaming and yelling for you.

You know, at the front nine, we left every putt short. A couple times, never even came close to getting it to the hole. I don't know if they were sticky. It was so hot and humid it was like the water was coming right out of the ground. But the back nine they started to get a little glare to them. But the front, they were I would say, slow. Not to a bad point but when we finished yesterday they seemed a little quicker and coming out today I didn't adjust very well. It didn't kill me but I had a few putts that I left a couple feet short.

I think they are speeding up right now. Last three or four holes we played, when you get the shine, they are getting pretty quick.

Q. Having a couple bogeys like you were talking about before, are you frustrated when you're playing well? Is it easier to handle that or are you frustrated because you're playing well and making a bogey?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I handled it good today. Other times, you know, may not; may hit a driver at a hole you shouldn't or go for a par 5 trying to turn it around. But I think when you're up there, you can accept them. If I was 1-under or 2-under and made a couple bogeys, it's a different thing. But when you're near the lead and you know no one is going to go and birdie three or four holes in a row, it's kind of impossible out there. You just accept them.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, because there's a few holes that standing there didn't quite feel like a driver would be the right play; so you hit a 3-wood. But there's not a whole lot of PGA TOUR events where you're going to do that, unless the hole dictates, unless a lot of guys are hitting a 3-wood off the tee. There's enough rough, and some of the pins are tucked and you just want to get it in the fairway, or try to.

Q. Why do you think you are so popular with the fans?

FRED COUPLES: Because I'm such a nice guy. (Laughter.) Because they feel sorry for me.

You know, I think they really like a lot of players. I'm 23 years on TOUR, I've been around for a long, long time. I'm sure there are a lot of people that were happy and shocked that I won and thrilled to death. I'd love to win again. But I think people have always liked the way I've played and have been around a long time. I don't really know. I've never been able to figure out why they like someone a lot more or less. If you do the right thing, I think you'll get people on your side, but for me, I've always had big galleries and people screaming and yelling. I hope it never stops.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: Well, not really, because Thursday and Friday I still play with the guys who have won and Saturday and Sunday I'm out there fighting for 40th position, so there's not that many people but there's still enough. I get them prepped. They come out early and then they stay out there and then they go watch the big boys play in the afternoon.

Q. Chances are, tomorrow you'll be in one of the final groups, does that change your mindset or does that give you a mental boost as you go into a round like that?

FRED COUPLES: Well, you want to be near the lead. We could wake up and it could be 30-mile-an-hour winds by two o'clock and that's no fun. So your mindset is: "Oh, my God, how the heck are we going to play this course?" But once you get out there and play it, you do your best as they say.

This is a course, a really good round is a 69 or 70, and a bad round isn't a 73 or 74. That's not what you want to shoot but your mindset is to really play and get as low as you can and that doesn't necessarily mean 66 or 67. I think by the end of the week, if it stays close to this, 10- or 12-under could easily win this thing.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think -- I don't think there was -- I don't know if there was anything to really get roasted about, and maybe either way, but for Greg, but for myself, I had no, nothing, it was a thought. I wasn't out there saying -- I don't even remember about Greg; he had guys that were going to run a thing. I wasn't going to run it. I thought it would be great to have some event. And I didn't go to Tim Finchem, no, but I thought it would be great to do this.

So when it was going, you know, there weren't that many guys that were on any kind of bandwagon. It wasn't anything like I had my group, you and me and Jimmy, Joe were trying to get this thing together, get sponsors and we were going to make a lot of money and have other guys play. Maybe I'm saying that and I don't know what Greg really did, I can't remember, it was so long ago.

But for me, a couple people have mentioned that. A couple people, said, "Hey, you'd better be careful." But I was talking about guys 40 to 50 years old having somewhere to play. I wasn't trying to steal the best players at that time and say, "Hey, come with me." If Greg read that -- that's just my words on that, I was just saying, "Hey, Greg, let's go see if we can play against each other, and if you, Nick Price and I are coming up the last fairway at Quail Hollow, I don't know how much better can get than that?" We might not be shooting 68 and 67 and all that, but we get a little confident. We'll all start playing better.

So that was my thought and it didn't work and wasn't like, you know, people were going to chastise me because it was just a thought and it was just me -- when people asked, I was for it. If they asked Paul Azinger or Nick Price or those guys, they were on the edge. Well, if it really went well we might do it. And of course the PGA TOUR came in and said you can't do both. If you go there, you're going to be off the Tour. And that pretty much will put a stop to anything.

Q. Maybe a Monday or Tuesday event --

FRED COUPLES: I think so. I'm so far removed from it that --

Q. The Golf Channel would pick it up --

FRED COUPLES: Some day it might and maybe Tim Finchem will think it's a great idea. I think it's an okay idea. But I hope he thinks about it and maybe some day he'll do it, because there's got to be places for Curtis Strange to play. I mean, he's playing here, you know, and people still want to -- I still want to see him play, and that's not to say, geez, all of a sudden I'm playing so well that I can talk about Curtis Strange, but I've been able to make a lot of cuts. It's not that poorly of golf; whereas Curtis has a lot more going on and I think he comes out here, if he made a cut, it would be semi-surprising because he's working on TV and I'm sure he's not playing much. But he's not going to be 50 for a while; I still would like to see him play. But some day it might happen.

The card, the 10th hole I drove it in the bunker, laid up and hit a wedge to 20 feet and I made it.

The par 5, pin was on the front left, I was four or five yards off the green on the right and putted up the hill about three feet and made it.

16, I hit a great drive and 6-iron to about ten feet.


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