October 24, 1996
LEE PATTERSON: Share your thoughts about the day with us.
FRED COUPLES: Well, it was a miracle for what I shot. I drove it pretty well but got it up-and-down from some wild spots and feel very fortunate. I played a pretty good round of golf for about ten holes and got it up-and-down on 11, 12 and 13 from unbelievable spots for pars, and then hit a good shot on 14 and made birdie and then hit a good shot on 16 with the wind and made birdie. But the big key was trying to judge the wind. And when I didn't, I got it up-and-down from some very good spots. So I'm in great shape. I didn't feel like I could shoot that score. I didn't hit it like I could have shot that score, but I'm going to take it and come out tomorrow and hopefully play the same way. I putted very well. It's a great course. It's very difficult. I think by the end of the week it's going to wear on everyone. I was not here last year, so I don't know what it was set up like, but when the wind blows on any course, I've always said they play hard. When you have greens this small it's hard to hit them, it really is, unless you pick the right club and hit a decent shot. There's not much you can get away with. So I don't know what the weather is going to be like. But as far as my play, you know, I turned a 77 into a 68.
Q. What was getting you in trouble?
FRED COUPLES: Second shots. I just -- I didn't feel -- I've had a couple of weeks off. I haven't played a whole lot, which isn't too bright coming in a tournament like this. I've had a lot of fun this year, and I really -- for once it wasn't that big of a deal to really prepare myself. And it's kind of foolish, but I was just tired of playing after Vegas. And oddly enough, it seemed like I was playing some mediocre golf in the Presidents Cup. I did well. I didn't exactly play like someone that would win a normal tournament. But at the Southern Open and in Vegas I played some pretty good golf and I just have -- I don't want to say I've lost it. Today was not a great, great run. I hit my -- tried to hit my irons kind of low, and kind of up-shooting them. But again, you need to leave it in some spots where you can maybe get the ball up-and-down and I didn't do that. On the 11th hole I got it up-and-down where I could have sat there all day and not got it up-and-down. So when you do that, it kind of picks you up on these nasty days. You have to be out there. If it's a calm day, you don't hit that many bad shots, but sometimes your short game gets you through. I've seen it a bunch and I've done it a bunch and today I was able to shoot 68 really because until the middle of the round I got the ball up-and-down.
Q. Fred, were you long left on 11?
FRED COUPLES: No, I was kind of well to the right and short. Long left down in a little valley was -- I saw someone behind me sit there, that was no good, either. I was way to the right chipping with the wind over the trap and hit it like Phil Mickelson about two feet and made it.
Q. Is that where you hit the flop shot just below the hole?
FRED COUPLES: That was on 12. Down by the water?
Q. Down by the creek.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. That shot was carving toward the water and hit soft and stayed up. If it's firm there I'd probably make a double bogey and ended up making a par. So things like that. And the way I'm playing I'm not exactly going to tell you you can turn it on tomorrow and play good, but obviously I feel I can.
Q. Is your back all right?
FRED COUPLES: You know, it's okay. I don't feel very good. I didn't get up very good today. Oddly enough, the further I get away from the ball it's all right. The shorter the shot, the more I tilt, not doing very good. But I don't really care to get into it. I might get up tomorrow and feel good. But today I woke up and I had like two hours straight having someone look at it and stretching and riding the machine. I'm going to go in there right now and try it again. Today wasn't very good. But it's hard to say, because I shot 68. But it was a very ugly 68?
Q. How do you consider your year coming in?
FRED COUPLES: I think it's great. I feel like it was a fun year. I played very well. A lot of people have heard me say it was great to win a tournament, especially at TPC. But the whole year I've actually -- I got into a little spell after my back went out in May and June where I skipped three tournaments. Then when I came back, except for the British Open, I didn't play very well. I didn't play much. But it was pretty exciting to play well at the Southern again in Vegas. And basically the way I feel now, I am looking forward to the end of November and all December trying to figure this out, one more time. Because the last month, my back's bothering me in a different spot. And so I don't know what I'm to look forward to. But this year was a lot of fun because I felt great for a long, long time. And when you go out there and you feel strong, it's fun. When you're playing a day like today when the course is difficult, I feel like I'm good enough where I can maneuver the ball around. And again, I feel very fortunate. But I'd like to see what I could do tomorrow if I can get up and basically not have it be so stiff.
Q. Your second season schedule?
FRED COUPLES: I'm going to play in the Gene Sarazen next week, and Kapalua and the Skins game. And so there will be a week off. In December I'm going to hopefully get on another program and try and strengthen some other part and see if that will help. It did for a while.
Q. What part hurts now?
FRED COUPLES: Right at the belt line, all the way across. It's hard to bend over, hard to lean back; whereas before, it hurt, but not really swinging. And now it's hard to stand over it and feel like I'm going to go ahead and free wheel it and smash it. But I think the more I turn this way (indicating) I'm fine, at least today. I have not played in two weeks since it started bothering me again. But the more I bend and tilt through the ball, which you're not supposed to do, but that's when it really catches. And today I hit the ball solid but I don't consider -- if I play like this for three more days, I'm not really a factor, at all. That's just the truth. And if I can get by tomorrow and do it one more day, but there's not much to look forward to. I can't go out there and hit balls. I don't know -- for 8, 9 days now what it's going to feel like and next week I'll see the guy that's been helping me in Atlanta. That's good. I was with him the whole week at the Southern Open and I felt great. And oddly enough I felt great at Las Vegas. And then I go home and I don't play golf for a couple of days and then I start to get stiff.
Q. Across the belt line now. Before it was higher than that?
FRED COUPLES: It was just a muscle. So when the muscle went out, it was kind of like "you can't play." Now it feels like it's all bone. I don't know, it's not very good. I'm kind of --
Q. You played pretty well at Vegas. Did you have this problem?
FRED COUPLES: No, in Vegas and Southern Open I felt as good as I have since the beginning of the year.
Q. So it stiffened up when you got home?
FRED COUPLES: When I got to Dallas and sat around for two or three days to relax.
Q. What does that tell you?
FRED COUPLES: Maybe I need to play golf 365 days a year, which isn't going to happen. But, you know, it's part of the deal. I've done this before. It's just now I guess to answer it, it was the first time it happened it was all right, like I said. The second time it really started to worry me. And now it's in a different spot. So I don't think I'm going to have it that bad when he looks at it, but it's just odd because 14 days ago I felt great and now I wake up in the morning, it's hard to really do anything.
Q. How much of it -- people talk about your swing being responsible, the strange motion, when you say you're going to play November and December and then think about it, have you ever given serious consideration to changing something that you've been doing for years and years?
FRED COUPLES: Well, to answer that, no. I mean my back, as you look at it as a picture is really bad looking. It's all -- I don't know the terms. There's no cushion or anything, it's just bone on bone on bone on bone. And I feel lucky, but at one time I was talking about if I never play -- I've been playing great this year, so I really don't know what it's going to be like, but I know that I've never felt like I did today getting up. So what it is is it's just -- it's all under there is pretty bad. According to these guys, it's like a 50 or 60 year old man. And I'm 37. So with the right preparation I can get by, I really can. It's just some days I wake up and it will be there for three or four days and then you sit and you withdraw from the tournament and I go see the guy and he can fix it. So far this -- he hasn't been able to fix. I just saw him last Friday and Saturday, before I came here a week ago. And I got home and the next day it was the same thing. So I'll be relying on him to figure it out.
Q. It's nothing to do with the swing, as far as you know?
FRED COUPLES: No, no. My swing, my playing golf may have done it over the years, I don't know. But a lot of people ask that. Can you do this or that? No, realistically. I could change my swing and shoot 80.
Q. Join us.
FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah. But, no, there's a lot of -- everyone has it. Tiger Woods hits the ball so hard, John Daly, Davis Love, and then you get someone that doesn't hit it that hard and has back problems. It can happen to anybody.
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