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January 18, 1998

Fred Couples


LEE PATTERSON: Best you can, share your thoughts with us.

FRED COUPLES: Well, I am thrilled to death, as anyone would be to win, you know, I had a great week. I'd like to say one thing: I have played the last two years in the non-celebrity field, just to give me a break from a lot of things, and I thank the tournament chairman for letting me do that. And this year was very easy to play in front of 50 people instead of 5,000 cameras. And, I feel like that was a big advantage. So, next year, I will be hitting off the first tee with Bob Hope, so it wouldn't be quite the same. That was a great way to start. As far as the week, it felt great to be on the course, you know, I have a lot of confidence in my game. I practiced enough to feel like I would come in here and be able to hit the ball. And I got off to a great start, as I said, when I came in here, whenever, Thursday about, 64 on Wednesday. And then the week kept going. And today, I hit the ball very well. I have a new driver; hit a couple mediocre drives, but I blasted a few too. So, it was a very comforting feeling. Again, I felt like I played a good round of golf. And I got just enough putts to go in and hang in there with Bruce, and him not birdieing 18, left the door open for a playoff. And, in the playoff, I got it right where I wanted. You know, up near that top shelf, and Bruce had a very difficult pitch on the new green which I think makes the hole much harder. I really felt like a 4 would win; whether it was him or me.

Q. How had the putting been through the week? Had you missed some putts?

FRED COUPLES: You have a lot of birdie putts, first of all. I missed a few, but I made a bunch. You know, today I putted pretty well. I 3-putted the -- I birdied the first and bogeyed the third hole from 85 or 90 yards to the pin. That was not what you want to do in the last day in a shootout, and, ended up 3-putting from 40 feet. But, the other days, made a lot of putts and, you know, I felt good putting. I felt -- I always feel better hitting the ball. But, you know, I think I made a few knee-knockers, and it just was a good day. I played very well. I felt good about the way I played. And towards the end, you know, I think I was always trying to catch Bruce. You know, you kind of say, "Okay, you need a birdie. You need a birdie," and the long putt on 17 rolled right up to the edge of the hole and looked like it was going in, and I felt like on 18 you can make eagle. I felt like the way we hit our drives, we were all going to make birdies. I left the putt just short and then Bruce hit a good putt both times and missed them both. You know, ended up having one more birdie than Bruce.

Q. Through the course of the week, I mean.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I putted great. Putted great.

I am not ever going to go through a week where I don't miss any putts. Like I said a minute ago, you have a lot of birdie putts because you are hitting a lot of wedges. I made my share. Yesterday I was pretty bad, the back 9, at Indian Wells, but I birdied 17, 18 to hang in there and stayed close.

Q. Considering how difficult your back has been and everything else that has gone on, how gratifying is this victory for you?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think, you know -- gratifying? I love to play golf. Sometimes I don't show it. I love to compete and any time you do something well, it is gratifying. This is not the greatest win I have ever had, but it was a great time to win a tournament. So, a lot of things with me are important and winning again was very important. I really felt like I still have the game to win. That is the only reason I play. I don't play this game to come out and just hope my back will do fine. I come out to compete and when I stop doing that, I will quit. This just proved to me that I can still win and I plan on winning more tournaments. I plan on having a great year.

Q. What do you mean "You don't show it?"

FRED COUPLES: I don't show -- what did I just say? I say lot of things. (Audience laughter.) What was --

Q. You said you love to play golf, but sometimes you don't show it ....

FRED COUPLES: If I am not playing very well I don't look like I am having a good time, and I am really not. I think last year, a lot of times when I played, it was pretty frustrating and I wish I wasn't out on the course. That is kind of what I mean by that. Whereas, this year, if I am not playing well, I hope to be more of a battler; not -- I don't give up, but not play quickly and rush and go around. I think I plan on hanging in there a little longer if I am not playing like this. This is a great week. There will be weeks where I am going to be first off the tee the last day and going to make $3,000. But I need to keep playing and that is the only way I am going to get better again is if I pay attention to what I am doing.

Q. Did you have a sense that it might go to a playoff today?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I was hoping. I didn't think I would pick up four shots on Bruce or Andrew. So, unless I had an unbelievable round -- I had a great round, but nothing that should have surpassed them. But, I felt like we all played pretty well. And once you are in a playoff, you know, you don't need to worry about too much. You just go out there and Friday and hit your best shots and I hit a couple of good ones and I had the same shot that I did in the regulation, the same club, same shot, fade-in there, I just hit a little harder and there was less wind, but it ended up in a great spot. Easy chip. I would have loved to have chipped it closer. But, you know, felt good to see if I can make a 4-foot putt.

Q. Did the tee shot on the 9 feel like an omen maybe or anything?

FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, if it hadn't hit his cart, it probably would have been not with a very good angle to the green. And, the way it kicked back through the one bunker, I don't know -- it could have hit the cart and gone the other way out-of-bounds, and, that is what I did on 9, it kicked back into the rough way left, but I had a fairly easy shot and I hit a great shot to about ten feet; made birdie. So, I could have made 5, and made 3. That was a big shot.

Q. Was that ball out or --

FRED COUPLES: I don't think -- there is quite aways. It would have been, at worst, in some tall junk, but I think the out-of-bounds, I think, was a lot further right.

Q. Was it Maltbie's cart?

FRED COUPLES: Yes. It was the one he was getting a ride there. Scared the heck -- you know, scared the heck out of him.

Q. How is this driver different from the others?

FRED COUPLES: First of all, I think Lynx made a club that, you know, I feel very comfortable with. I picked it up within the last year. I have used it two weeks; hit it great in Wendy's tournament and this week, you know, it sounds like wood. It looks like one of my old wooden drivers, and, so far, I have let two or three people hit it. They all hit it very well. So, it is a very easy club to hit and it has plenty of length. So, the difference really from a Callaway is, you know, I hit the Callaway driver great, but this Lynx driver is better looking and I feel like it is very easy to hit. It was great this week. I drove it the back 9 today I -- I ended up pulling the drive on 14 where I made birdie, but I hit it very strong and very straight.

Q. You hit it further?

FRED COUPLES: I think this week I just felt pretty good. I may have hit it a little further. But I hit it -- I can only hit it so far. And, I don't think I am using the club that is shorter.

Q. How far did you drive it both times on 18?

FRED COUPLES: Probably 285. I had 250 and 248 to the hole for my second shots.

Q. With 3-woods?


Q. Does this victory erase any of the disappointments of last year?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I don't speak of golf last year. I think -- you know, you lose your father; I don't believe you can win any tournament and let that speak for itself. So, you know, golfwise, it wasn't a big deal to me how I played last year. This year, it is a huge deal. I don't want to play like that. But, you know, I didn't play. I never played. You know, so, for me, this is a great year. My girlfriend is back there and my buddy, John, and so I have a lot to look forward to. But, I think about my dad as anyone would, but I can't really even begin to say this has any good feeling about what happened. That is not --

Q. Good feeling about golf.

FRED COUPLES: Sure. That is what I play. If I didn't play here, you know, someone else would have won and I felt good for them. So I think people feel good that I won and they were rooting very hard for me today. I think people are very sympathetic. They know I haven't played much. And, that is very nice. I had a lot of cards, a lot of letters, a lot of support, but this year, you know, I would love to continue to play golf and show myself I am still a good player.

Q. What did you play in the off-season this year? That is usually a busy time for you.


Q. Just the Wendy's?

FRED COUPLES: Right after Vegas, yes. That is it.

Q. All that was due to your father's illness?


Q. Have you doubt that you are still a good player? Have you lost confidence?

FRED COUPLES: No, I have a lot of confidence in my game. Any time I step on the course I really think I can play good golf. It was great to start with a 64. I can't say enough about not playing in two months and coming out and feeling like, you know, hey, this is a new year, you know, I am off to a great start. Now, four days later, I have won, you know, I don't know if it is luck, if it is fate, if it is good golf. But, I feel like all that has rolled into winning. I was behind all day today. I was never any really anywhere near Bruce. I made a birdie; got within one and we struggled getting the ball close on 16 and 17 - which were hard holes - and then on 18, you know, I honestly felt like he was going to birdie it and win by a stroke. So, I feel lucky. First hole, I hit 60-yard sand wedge to a foot. Made birdie. Third hole, I hit a sand wedge terrible 40 feet and 3-putted. 6th hole, I hit a wedge ten feet; made it. The 8th hole, hit two woods in the bunker and blasted out to two feet for birdie. 9, I hit 9 out of the rough ten feet; made birdie. The 13th, par 5, hit drive, 2-iron, on the front edge; 2-putted for birdie. 14, I hit sand wedge five feet; made birdie. And on 18, hit the driver, 3-wood twice and ended up 2-putting once and chipping and making a short putt for birdies.

Q. Was your back on your mind anymore than it ever is?

FRED COUPLES: No. Although when we stepped up in -- the group in front of us had just hit on 18. That is not what I wanted to see. We walked around or I didn't loosen up and it was okay when we stopped and signed the cards and I rode a little bit, but walked up. Once I stop, I am in trouble, and if I just keep moving and keep moving, I am okay. But, I didn't want to play one of those marathons like my buddy, Cook, and Gene Sauers said, there is no way I would have finished. So....

Q. How long did you wait on the 18th tee?

FRED COUPLES: They just hit. When we actually -- when we were standing there, one of the guys just hit. So probably -- ten minutes.

Q. I think you were 5 down after three holes when you bogeyed. I mean, is there anyway you get charged up at that point?

FRED COUPLES: You are disappointed and you just say, "Okay, let us keep playing." I mean, it is actually -- then you want to hold your position. You don't want to have 12 other guys pass you. Then I, you know, made a couple of putts and I got back to 3 and then it was 2. And, when I birdied 14, I was within 1 and obviously in the game. But, yeah, at that time, when I 3-putted the third hole, with the sand wedge, I am trying to make birdie and make bogey, you know, and Bruce birdied the first two holes. I mean, I basically thought I was done.

Q. 14, you got 80 like --

FRED COUPLES: 77 yards. It was actually good. Getting up over the tree was not easy because it was little bit of a messy lie, but it came out and once it hit and rolled, that was a good break to have as far as hitting it and flopping it up over the trap and letting it release. The greens were hard. I hit a shot left on 14 and had good yardage to hit a 60-degree sand wedge to hit it high above the tree. I felt I could hit it as hard as I could and knock it over the green, but knocked it over the tree. If I came out right, I felt like I could hit a decent shot. It turned out to be great.

Q. What do you think of the way these greens performed this week? Seemed like they were firm and --

FRED COUPLES: The greens were firm, all of them, but they were perfect. I think, you know, a lot of us are wearing soft spikes. The greens were -- I don't believe I had a putt that rolled anywhere near a spike mark. The golf courses, I said everyday we played, they were immaculate. I like the greens being hard because I really think 20-under was maybe 7th place -- what did -- I mean, that is not as low as it normally is. I think that is because the greens were firm. You are always going to get some guys like Bruce and Andrew that continue to, as we did, play a little better. But, I think the firm greens made the scoring not quite as low as it has been.

LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?

FRED COUPLES: Thank you, guys.

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