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April 25, 2003

Fred Couples


JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Freddie, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round, a 68, good position going into the weekend 11-under par, 133. Why talk about your round real quick?

FRED COUPLES: Well, it was a great round. I felt like, playing the course, it didn't take long the first three or four holes to figure out that it had firmed up. Any time you had -- or at least I felt like I had a pretty difficult shot, I played the way, from what I thought, would be an easier shot. What I mean is some of the holes where it was downwind and the pins were tucked, I just felt like making a par would be a good score.

Then I made some birdies when I hit good shots. It's not easy to do that, but I felt like I was in fairly good control of my game, and to shoot 68, I think, is a good score. As you will see, there aren't many of the guys that played early^ late challenging 8, 9-, 10-under. There's a lot of guys maybe at 6 and 7 but all guys that played yesterday and then came back and played a lot today were the guys that jumped up there.

Q. Given that -- do you consider your 68 to be about as good as a 65 --

FRED COUPLES: It was good. Yesterday was a totally different round. I played much better. But I am very thrilled with 68. I just -- I was a little bit off, but I got -- was able to hit some very good drives when I needed to which made the course play easier. I made one bogey and it was par 3 with downwind with an 8-iron shot, but other than that, I hit most of the greens, and, like I said, I played a round of golf where I didn't want to make a mistake, or try not to. And it worked out great.

Q. Did you misread the green on your approach on 17? Is that why it didn't go in?

FRED COUPLES: No, I did -- I probably did misread it. It went in. But I made a good par on 18, too. I drove it just in the right rough behind the tree and kind of hit a cut up there around the front edge and putted up to about three feet, made it for par, which was great, because I was hoping to play with Calc tomorrow and I think --

JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Looks pretty good.


JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Hank Kuehne is out there and he is 9-under with a some holes to play.

FRED COUPLES: That would be good, too. I like Hank. But anyway to go over the round first hole, I laid up and hit a sand wedge probably 20 feet and made it for birdie.

Then I birdied No. 4. I hit a 2-iron and a sand wedge to about ten feet.

Par 3, I missed the green just to the right and kind of chili-dipped a chip and 2-putted.

No. 8, I hit 6-iron to about three feet.

No. 9, I hit a drive and had a 3-iron to the green hit it short to the right in the rough and chipped or pitched up to about 15 feet short, made it for birdie.

The back green, No. 11, probably I hit 3-wood off the tee and kind of semi pushed, popped it up and had 7-iron to the green, pulled it left of the green, ended up hitting a poor chip making bogey there.

And then on 13, I hit a 5-iron probably 25 feet, made it for birdie.

17, I hit a good drive and a wedge 20 feet, made it for birdie.

Q. You talked about your college days earlier. Talk about your relationship with Jim Nance and where you guys are right now.

FRED COUPLES: Well, we're a lot older than when we were in the late '70s and '80s. But he was a roommate with Blaine McCallister and John Horn, and we had a lot of fun. And Jimmy has gone onto great, great things and Blaine has won five times on the PGA TOUR, and my buddy, John Horn has played out here and gone to be a club pro in the Plainview area. Jimmy is, I think, probably the best at what he does. He has got some great events.

For me, is I am trying to turn my game around, not a career, but my game around, and I seem to be doing better this year. It's a lot more exciting, that's for sure, and I have played a very good handful of tournaments here the last couple of months. So I don't -- I can't speak for Jim, but for me, I want to play a little more and I want to play better. That's really the goal. It took a little bit of a butt-kicking to do that and things have turned around quickly, so it looks good.

A game of golf is not that easy. I could have easily gone to work with Butch and kept semi struggling a little bit, but it's clicked on pretty quickly, and, you know, it just seems like the game is a little more fun. I think anything is more enjoyable if you do it better.

Q. What seemed to make things a little bit harder for the players in the afternoon?

FRED COUPLES: Course is firming up. There's enough wind that even though it's playing shorter, it is hard to keep the tee shots in the fairway. It's a pretty narrow driving course, not really tree-lined, but it's hard to get a ball from the rough to stop it anywhere around the hole, let alone on the green. A lot of times, I decided to hit driver, and when I got it down there in the fairway, I had a lot of wedges, but the guys that I was playing with and myself, when we hit it in the rough, we pretty much tried to get it on the greens. I think what happens when you are 3, 4 under, you are trying to catch up. You do things that maybe you won't if you were seven or eight under. That, I think, is the mindset that maybe you are shooting for a pin, and it hits a little bit hot hits on the green and rolls down and you are making a bogey, you know, you are losing ground. Today I chose not to do that.

Tomorrow I hear we're going to have some wind. I don't think we're getting any rain, so the course is going to even play harder. You have to hit quality shots, and I think the scores are going to start to creep up a little bit.

Q. You approach the weekend like you are in the lead, or so many people clustered, is it still -- kind of deceptive to think of it as being really leading the tournament at this point?

FRED COUPLES: That's -- for me it is a good question because I am approaching it as I need to go out there and just really try and keep making these swings that I have been doing with Butch. And not get focused in on really where I am at, if I am in the lead or behind or whatever because I haven't been there in so long that that's just not something that I can just tell myself. What I have to do is I got to go to the 1st tee tomorrow and try and make this good tight swing and hit a good drive and go from there. But I am sure for the guys, Vijay and Calc who have played very well, they are going out there with a mindset, the same thing but they are going to attack the course and look at it the same way, but for me, I just need to -- I am just thinking of a couple of things and I have got nothing to do with what Calc is going to do. I will have a good time playing with him or whoever, but your mindset really changes on how you play. It is a pretty easy game when you play well all the time. We make it a lot harder and when you don't do well and you get near the lead, I feel like I am experienced enough that you know, I am not going to go out there and panic. I am just going to go out there and play and if I do well, that's great.

Q. What is the short version of what Butch helped you with as far as with your swing?

FRED COUPLES: The path, you know, getting the path better.

Q. Get stuck at the top?

FRED COUPLES: Really on the downswing and overswinging. The two things I think about one would be a shorter tighter swing and the other is when I do get long I immediately drop the club inside and the next time I hit one I make sure I don't do that so it's not that tough, but you know, a couple of times I have done the TPC the wind was blowing and not only you are trying to hit it solid but you are trying to hit it low and judge it. At Augusta, on Sunday, I just-- was just a little off and I had putted really poorly and I didn't hit the ball that bad, so it wasn't really something to say oh, my God, I didn't hit the ball very well. So that was surely not a big deal to worry about my swing and I have hit the ball well.

Q. You mentioned today a couple of times probably playing with Calc tomorrow. Davis seemed to think playing with you helped settle him. Does who you play with tend to affect you?

FRED COUPLES: It doesn't affect me. But I would rather play golf with people that I know and as the older I get I barely know or have played with any of the guys 25 to 30, it seems like. That's not something that you know, I want out there saying hey, he doesn't want to play with anyone. No, when I get a chance and being up there looking that I am playing with Calc, that's a lot more friendly atmosphere for me because we're almost the same age, we play the same versus playing with some other guys that I really don't know. But I actually played with James McLean at Atlanta. He's a great great player and a nice kid and I have played with some other guys, have gotten to know Ben Crane so they are all very, very nice. If I had a choice, like anyone else, I would choose guys close to my age that maybe I can beat up a lot easier.

Q. It is still a comfort level for you playing in Houston -- you are always so popular here as opposed to someplace else?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I am always -- there's a comfort level when you go play no matter where you are at. But again, I would rather win here than somewhere else except you know, quote some of the Top 7 or 8 tournaments, there's no doubt. If I am leading I am going to feel a lot more pressure on Sunday because I went to school here? No. But I feel like you know, for quite sometime even when I played very well, I lost -- I didn't get to a Playoff but I lost by a shot here one year and that was a lot of fun. But I really haven't been close. It's not disappointing, that's just the way it is. Tomorrow will be a great day. I am sure there will be 10,000 people following our group around screaming and yelling, you know, sometimes that picks you up and I look forward to going out and playing tomorrow.

Q. Scheduled going into the Open, you talk about being?

FRED COUPLES: Wachovia, and then the Memorial, and is the U.S. Open before Westchester? I have to qualify for the U.S. Open. So and then after that every now and then. I am not that excited that I am going to go play 26 times (laughter). Let's not get carried away. But what I am trying to do is play and not take four or five weeks off which you know, I have done. I played Augusta and then I took a week off and I played one round of golf when I was at home. If I took four weeks off I would probably play one or two rounds of golf. So that I can't do anymore. I would be wasting Butch's time and my time. That's why I am going to -- I am taking a couple of weeks off, the Byron Nelson and Colonial. I may play Colonial, but I don't really want to take four, five weeks off anymore.

Q. Definitely not Nelson?

FRED COUPLES: No. Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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