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May 30, 1998

Fred Couples


WES SEELEY: 68, 67, 67, 202, 14 under par for Fred Couples, the leader by three. Tell us about this day.

FRED COUPLES: You know, a long day. You know, it started out I was a little bit ill and not feeling well. I don't know what I had besides a migraine headache and a little bit -- I'm either getting a one-day bug or something, but you know on the range I felt terrible. When I got to the first tee, I felt worse when I teed my ball off and marked a few putts and started bending over and all of that. I must say on the other hand, you know, I walked around as fast as I could. I really didn't worry about what I was doing, because I didn't think I would shoot anything like I shot. I hit the ball very well. You know, not that we're done and I'm sitting here. I feel a little bit better, but it was a great day. I mean, you know, it's weird. I get headaches every now and then, and, you know, I don't know how they come or why, but today was the first one I've had in a long time. You know, it sounds like, yeah, right, but I really felt, you know, horrible. I hope I feel this bad tomorrow, too.

Q. Do you get the classic migraines with the stripes up through your eyes so you lose part of your vision?

FRED COUPLES: You know, no. It just gets blurry and then bending up and down is a chore. You know, I'll be honest, again, I didn't line up too many putts by bending down. I marked my ball as careful as I could just to try and feel the same instead of getting in some position and standing up and feeling dizzy; I just kind of walked all day. It really wasn't that bad. I don't want to say I was dizzy for four hours. I just felt, you know, out of whack a little bit.

Q. Did it start to break around, oh, No. 9?

FRED COUPLES: No. Actually, you know, just sitting down in here, you know, getting away from the -- it's bright in here, but the hot and the sun and everything, just, you know, kind of calming down. You know, I didn't get up until noon. I tried to stay in the dark as long as I could, and, you know -- but I know golfwise I couldn't have played a whole lot better. I mean, the front 9, you know, I had a wedge to the 2nd hole and I hit it a little fat on the front edge and 3-putted. I missed a couple birdie putts but made a good one on 9 from about 5 feet, which certainly helped. And, you know, played a good back 9.

Q. Considering the way you guys feel and the precedence that's been set this year, will you and Davis ask for carts tomorrow or what?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I never need a cart. I joked around a long time ago and would love to have one. If everyone got one, I would take one. But, you know, that's -- I don't even know how to answer that.

Q. Do you take pills for your pain?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I took some Alka Seltzer Plus in the morning, which I usually take this stuff, Imitrex. But I don't have it with me because I haven't had one of these in a long time. But, you know, again, right now, I feel pretty good, so hopefully it's going away. I haven't eaten all day; I haven't even felt like eating. I don't feel like eating anything, so a lot of times, you know, you're dragging. I played better at the end, so I felt a little more pumped up, which I must say, everything went pretty well. I didn't kill myself in the beginning. I played pretty well, and then when I got into it and things started to go, it just snowballed. You know, I mean, people do play when they feel bad. I haven't felt like this in a long time and I really didn't know what to expect. Certainly not a 67.

Q. Can we get back 9 detail?

WES SEELEY: Also birdie on 6.

FRED COUPLES: 6, I hit a drive and a 9-iron 10 feet.

WES SEELEY: What did you hit in on that?

FRED COUPLES: On 9, I hit a 3-wood and a 9-iron to about 5 feet. 13, I hit a 3-wood, 8-iron, 10 feet. 15, I hit a driver, 3-iron, 10, 12 feet, and made it for eagle. 16, 6-iron probably 25 feet. 18, I had been hitting an iron off the tee and blocked the 3-wood to the right right where you don't -- as soon as I hit it, I knew where it was going to end up. It ended up against the face of the bunker. I blasted out and with the pin where it was, I left myself a perfect yard to throw it past the hole and bring it back. You know, it spun back perfect to about 10 feet and I made it for par.

Q. How far in, what did you hit?

FRED COUPLES: On third shot?

Q. Yeah.

FRED COUPLES: I think 81 yards.

Q. Did you have any chance to play for the hole from the bunker or was that not even --

FRED COUPLES: No. You know, I thought about it.

Q. It was there if you really --

FRED COUPLES: It was there to hit a big old, you know. I just assume if I hit a decent shot out of there I left myself -- if I hit fat, I might have had a little more than I left myself with. I got it out; I hit a sand wedge. You're bound to hit it within 10, 12, 15 feet.

Q. I'm sure you're happy about being in the -- the opportunity to have the lead on Sunday with what happened a couple times this year. Just talk about that, given the chance again to be in the lead.

FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah, you know, I seem to do it every time I come in here. I mean, you know, tomorrow's a big round. You know, they're all -- whether it's at the Memorial or the -- any tournament. You know, I think good players get a lot of chances of winning. You know, I have another shot at winning, and you know, I look forward to playing. But if I happen to not win, you know, I mean, there's not much I can do about it. I'll worry about that tomorrow when I tee off. I think right now to answer your question, my game is great. I have no problems with going out there and having a shot at hitting whatever shot, you know, comes out. Whether it's off the first tee, the 10th hole, the 16th hole, whatever, you know, I'm a good enough player to win at any time. I don't feel like I'm capable of winning or leading after three rounds and having a tough time on Sunday. Augusta, I felt I played a great round at the Byron Nelson, no doubt. When John Cook got closer and closer, I started to scramble and not play as well. On 17, I felt like I didn't hit a bad shot, but that's what happens, you know. So for me, I think I hit every fairway but two today. That is important for me to keep it in play. You know, I'll get to watch a great player, you know, not that Len Mattiace isn't. He played very well. But Davis is a great, great player. So it's not like I'm going to be worried about him. David Duval is back on a roll, but, you know, I like to watch the scoreboard. I have no problem with someone shooting 5-under, 8-under, whatever. If I go play well, you know, I think I should have a very good chance of winning. And if I struggle a little bit, hopefully I'll get it around and hang in there. That's all you can ask for. I can't expect to go shoot 67 again, but I think if I play well I can earn a 67.

Q. Is there a correlation between your headaches and playing well?

FRED COUPLES: You know, there is a correlation to being tired. You know, I used to get them quite a bit when I would practice and, you know, be outside a lot. And then when I would go in, obviously I would feel better. There were times living in the desert in Palm Springs, it's 120 degrees and you think you're great. Then you go into the air conditioning, and they would -- that's my only answer to when I used to get them. But no, playing well, you know, I mean, I got it on a Friday night at the Memorial. It's not like I got it Sunday night at the U.S. Open. There's nothing for me to, you know, think I'm getting a headache because I've got to go out and win a tournament tomorrow.

Q. There was a player who played very well and she had them, Pat Bradley?

FRED COUPLES: I used to get them all the time. I used to get them -- I used to believe that I got a lot at tournaments because I didn't -- I didn't eat enough or do whatever. And then I would get them at home also, you know, sitting around working in the yard or doing anything. So, you know, I've tried to find an answer for them. Basically, you know, I haven't had them in three or four years.

Q. Because of what happened earlier this year, do you look forward to tomorrow as an opportunity or is it just, you know, the Memorial and an opportunity to win another tournament or does it have added significance beyond just the title itself?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think any time I play, you know, I try and do this: I try to get near the lead or as far ahead as I can. And the significance of tomorrow is that, you know, the last couple times I've been here, I haven't won. It's not a big deal to me. I mean, you know, if that was the case, I would have won 30 times by now. But I think I need to be careful and really, you know, pay attention to what I'm doing, which I try and do, and not get too far ahead. But the bottom line is it's a big tournament. It would be a great one for anyone to win. And, like I say, starting out, when I come to these tournaments, I try and do well Thursday. I try and, you know, get in the lead at tournaments and play. And this year, you know, it's been a very good year and I've had more opportunities. Now, to say, you know, if this was '92 or '91, it was a little easier because I was there a lot more. Now I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Because in '94 and 5 and 6, I couldn't tell you that many -- you know, at the beginning of the year, I had a few good tournaments, but some of them were mediocre last rounds and some were better last rounds to move up. And then once Augusta went by, I played, you know, miserable. But I think, you know, it's certainly isn't easy and it's not getting easier, but I don't think I have any load on my shoulders if I go out and win tomorrow and finally say I did it. You know, it's a big deal, but when I tee off, there's no added incentive, no extra pressure. I've got to be really careful on the golf course and hope Davis Love or Duval don't shoot 64.

Q. One of the things the last time you had a headache, how long ago was it like this?

FRED COUPLES: You know, a while ago. I don't want to say three years ago, but it was a while ago.

Q. On that order, though, three years?

FRED COUPLES: Not on the course. I haven't felt like that in a long time.

Q. Davis said when he was in here earlier that heat and humidity this week had been good for his back. You were talking about yesterday how one of the reasons you didn't like playing at this place is because you never played well. Has this -- the weather this week freed you up to perform as you've performed the last three days?

FRED COUPLES: No. Actually for me, you know, I'm stiff all the time, and I always say this jokingly. I hope it's 40 degrees tomorrow, you know. And it's true. Then everyone will be stiff. You know, I mean, it's my stock answer. I play well in the British Open because I'm no different. You know, whether it's 40 degrees or 100, I sweat a lot; it doesn't free my back up any. You know, quite honestly, I am sure anyone would say it's better to play in 100 degrees than 40 day in and day out. But I've had a lot of great tournaments where it's been cold and windy and...

Q. We keep belaboring the point of your misses this year. Does the fact that you are more often in contention indicate that you are back near where you were a few years ago?

FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah. I think right now I'm playing better than I have in a long time. I think -- I think I've improved a lot since last year. You know, I feel better. I think, you know, my life is better, which certainly helps any aspect of anything. But my golf is better because everything is better. So when I go out there, you know, I don't -- I just don't live and die golf like I used to. You know, now -- and maybe that's because I didn't play well for three or four years, or play better like this more often. I mean, I was still capable of having some good tournaments, but this is the only reason to play. You know, I have to be honest, if I play well every single tournament and keep playing, then I'm a happy guy. And when I start playing poorly, then I become miserable. I don't think I'm any different than anyone else. But I think my game is definitely getting to a point where, you know, I always feel comfortable on the course. But I feel comfortable to the point that when I go, I'm going to have a good round. I said yesterday I used to always believe I was going to. Now, I think it all depends on how I start. And if I get off to these good starts, then I feel like I'm going to hit the ball 18 holes. Where before when I walked on the first tee, you know, I was 1-under par after two holes almost every time. You know, that's a pretty good start.

Q. You kind of just touched on this, but I was going to ask if you're playing better this year because it's more physical and you're able to spend more time working on your game or if it was more mental, you're more enthused about putting time in on your game. What's been the big factor this year?

FRED COUPLES: I had a lot going on last year; I didn't practice a whole lot. I played a little bit. You know, that's -- you know, you can't do well a lot or every week if you do it that way. You know, it's been a great couple months. I mean, I started the year off with a bang. I didn't play that well after that. I worked with Paul in Orlando, then I got better. Now, I'm to the point where I think physically I feel great and I've practiced a lot. So both things are helping. I don't know if I can keep this pace up for five more months, but I think, you know, if I get to the U.S. Open and then to the British Open, you know, I look forward to being ready. Then after that, you know, I may not play a whole lot.

Q. You were obviously a lot more enthused about playing more this year.

FRED COUPLES: You know, because I'm playing better and, you know, I don't have a whole lot of things going on, too many worries. You know, I mean, it's -- you know, you can figure that one out. But for me, you know, I love to play golf. I don't know if I can play, you know, one more year, five more years, or until I'm a senior. But you know, I think practicing paid off. And until I stop, I think I can play like this for a while.

Q. I was going to ask if there was a correlation between simply playing more, which means you play better, but is there part of the game that because you play more or are playing better, is there one part of the game that has seemed to come around that maybe wasn't there in the last few years, you know, short game --

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think my short game's mediocre, but I'm putting, you know -- I'm not going to say I'm like Len Mattiace out there, but I'm putting much better. I'm able to hole some key putts, you know. And any time you do that, like on 18, you know, I mean the odds of making -- it's uphill a little left-to-right, which I like, even if I missed it. But if I hit a good putt, that's fine. A lot of times I fan them and you go home and you -- you know, you're bent out of shape. Now, I'm hitting good putts, so I'm not trying -- I used to try putting stroke after putting stroke. I would play 18 holes and try 10 different things. Now I have one stroke and I seem to be hitting them much better.

Q. So the correlation might be that you're --

FRED COUPLES: I'm having more putts.

Q. It's simply a repetition that --

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. Because I guarantee if I lead 15 more tournaments after three rounds, I'm going to win one of them. Play every day, I'm going to start putting better. The correlations are all there. You give me a bunch of choices, I hope to get a trophy in the near future. If I don't, this will be my last year.

Q. You just said that because you were a little bit dizzy, going up and down was kind of hard so you didn't line up your putts. What did you do instead?

FRED COUPLES: I kind of just stood behind it and just, you know, kind of semi bent over and looked at it a little bit. Sometimes I had a difficult putt on the side slope, but I walked around and looked at it. I just didn't feel like going up and down. You know, I struggled, but I don't want to make it sound like I was dying out there. I just felt dizzy and I would have loved to have been in my room relaxing instead of playing.

Q. The headache, is it back of the head, top of the head, all of the head?

FRED COUPLES: You know, it's just all up in here.

Q. Sinus?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I think.

Q. Was this something that came on gradually starting last night?

FRED COUPLES: Actually, I went to see Titanic last night, and about three quarters of the way through it I started to sweat and get a little sick. And then when we got home, you know, I felt horrible. Normally I wake up feeling fine. I knew when I woke up at eight o'clock that it hadn't even thought about going away. I knew I was in a little bit of trouble, so I took some Alka Seltzer, then woke up at noon and didn't feel any better. So...

Q. How would you characterize the fan support for you out there?

FRED COUPLES: Well, it's out there. I said out there to some of those guys, I wish they would have been quieter, because it would have felt better on the pounding. Then tomorrow they won't come out and yell. Most of the places I go, when I do well, people root very hard. A lot of people yelling, you know, smiling. If I could -- I don't feel like telling anyone, but especially out in the chorus. I felt like 16 more holes, then it was only 10. Then I told Joe after he eagled 15, I said three more. It's just good to get in. People just kept screaming and yelling. It was a great 15th eagle there, and then, of course, the par on 18. I don't know how many people, it seemed like there was 100,000 out there.

Q. When you -- Davis said that you two and maybe some other guys persuaded Tom Boers to come up here this week. You've been saying that your back, other than being stiff, feels fine. What does he do for you guys after you play, is it massage or what?

FRED COUPLES: Actually, no. He -- the best way to explain it for me is that he just opens my back up. Most of the exercises that he has me do, I do very well. When I get stiff, it just seems like the stuff that I do hurts it even more. And so he's able to make it freer. It's not a chiropractic move. It's mostly getting underneath into some joints and kind of pushing them to open them up. Then once they get opened, you do these series of exercises to keep those joints moving.

Q. So he does have his hands on you?

FRED COUPLES: Oh, yeah. He's very subtle.

Q. Is he a therapist or --

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. He's a therapist that specializes in the spine.

Q. You said that you do like to watch the leaderboard. When you look at the leaderboard, you see guys like Davis and David and Ernie Els. I mean, do you see those names or do you just see numbers adjacent to yours?

FRED COUPLES: No. I look at, you know, Tryba doing well, Ernie Els. You know, as soon as they pop up there, you know why. I played Ernie the first two days. Yesterday he was a little bit off, but you know, it's almost the same every week. You know, David Duval, Ernie Els, Davis Love, Tom Watson, and then you get other guys up there, but not every week. I think for Ted Tryba, it's another big day. But for me, I enjoy just checking it out. You know, see how Duval got 7-under. Because here they don't have the electronic boards, they put each score up. And I know he eagled 11 and birdied some others and all that, you know.

Q. I think this is your 12th tournament of the year. Is it possible that aside from the Majors, you might not play very much at all?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. It looks that way. It's -- you know, I think my schedule is going to be the U.S. Open, the British Open, PGA, Vegas and the Tour Championship.

Q. And that's it?

FRED COUPLES: Uh-huh. So there's 15 shots in a row winning, they're not going to happen.

Q. There goes the correlation. Well over three years?

FRED COUPLES: You know, that would be fine. I just think, you know, this is what I wanted to do, and I -- I will be playing, I'll be doing some other stuff. I might throw a tournament in there. I just -- you know, I knew this little run, and it's been a lot more -- you know, I could have had the same run of tournaments and not done well at the Byron Nelson or Colonial or whatever. But basically, yeah, I think 16 or 17 tournaments, you know, I would love to play one or two more. I might. I might go somewhere else, but I think that will do it.

Q. Doesn't playing this well make you eager to try and play more or are you just like this is my thing?

FRED COUPLES: You know, that is a great question. Why would you stop? I think, you know, for me, too much is not good. You know, I mean, this is my third week. I am exhausted. I know that sounds crazy, but, you know, three weeks in a row. I mean, you know, some guys play five weeks in a row and take a week off and play five more. I'm done after three weeks. So, you know, the rest of the year, I mean, I'm going to play once or twice and then take three or four weeks off and play. I just don't want to -- I don't think I want to do it. I think I want to relax and have some fun. I'll be playing at home. I'm not going to show up to the PGA by not playing. I'll be playing most every other day and doing that. If I'm at home playing poorly, I might enter an event. I think what's that's six more, five more, so, you know, and then worry about the off-season and the Presidents Cup and all that other stuff.

WES SEELEY: Okay folks?

End of FastScripts....

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