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March 30, 1996

Fred Couples


WES SEELEY: 66, 72, 68; 206 for 10-under par, Fred Couples. How did it go and when did you start getting wet?

FRED COUPLES: I think Corey and I were about the fifth hole. You know, it was tough. I am very surprised at the scoring. I think it is great. You know, I mean, I played with one of the best players in the world, and he struggled out there, and I happened to play what I thought was a pretty good round. And I am not really picking up a whole lot of ground, I am picking up some places, but I think from the start with the Phil Mickelson and McCallister and Rocco and a couple of other guys shooting these 4, 6, 7, 8-unders got everyone thinking it is not that tough out there. I just felt like the course was -- if you can hit and stay dry, I don't wear gloves, neither does Corey, and I kind of struggled holding onto the club. It took me a while to hit every shot. But in reality, I think, the course played pretty easy, just the weather was a factor. And if you can stay dry enough, you know, you can stay patient and not get you know, -- I mean, I think just looking at my group with Corey, I think he struggled -- he got wet. He didn't make a birdie and I seemed to hit some pretty good shots, and end up with a good score. Birdied the 5th with a drive and 7-iron, ten feet. 9, I made about a 30-footer for par. I laid it up, down the left side and the pin was in the back and hooked it with a sand wedge around the tree, kind of, and I hit it too hard. It went in the back bunker with no shot and skipped it 30 feet by and made it. And then on 11, I hit a driver and 3-wood about 10 feet; 2-putted for birdie. 12, I hit a driver and sand wedge 10 or twelve feet, made it. 14, I drove it to the right in the moguls or the hill and hacked it down out of there down in the bunker about 50 yards short of the green and blasted that out 30 feet and 2-putted for bogey. And 16, pulled the drive into the trees in the cart path and it got through it all and rolled all the way out where I had a 6-iron to the green. I hit it on 20 feet and 2-putted. And 18, hit 3-wood and 4-iron about 12 or 14 feet.

Q. Ever hit a 6-iron at 16 before?

FRED COUPLES: A couple times, but not on a day like this. Last year I think when it was hard and fast, I believe I even maybe hit a 7-iron in there, but it was -- you know, as I told Joe, it is probably at least the one shot --a one-shot swing, you know. It wasn't a good drive. It was definitely pulled. I was trying to draw and I just pull-hooked it and to get down there and have it sitting perfect with a 6-iron is very lucky.

Q. Are you pretty pleased with the way you are hitting the ball now the last couple of days?

FRED COUPLES: Last time I saw anybody was at Doral and I felt great. I just didn't play very well the very first day there, and got way behind and still left with the idea I was -- I thought I was hitting the ball fine and I still do, you know, so far, this week it has been challenging the first day. We had a delay and then came back out at 7:00 and finished that up and I think, you know, all this is good to see -- my back seems to be fine. Today was cold and wet and brutal. I played in the rain gear to try and stay warm; didn't seem to have too much problems. So my game, I think, is pretty good and my health is probably at, you know, on an 80 or 85 percent range. I really feel good. That is why each week I go in, I don't really feel like -- I feel like I am going to play good, and it would be nice to say that and play good four rounds, but I am really not quite there yet. I mean, I seem to play a little sloppy one day and for me, yesterday, I finished up and birdied my first two holes of the second round and really felt like I was going to tear it up and ended up shooting even par. It is sloppy. And it would be nice to tidy everything up and not shoot 68 every round, but to play a good round and shoot even par is a lot different than playing where the next day you come out and you are a little bit unsure of how you are going to play.

Q. Playing Atlanta?

FRED COUPLES: I am going to Atlanta, yeah.

Q. Fred, with all the first-time winners in the last three weeks and you look up the Leaderboard, you see Tolles, and Michael Bradley, and some of those guys up there, you have won here; it was your second win, I believe, but -- can a first timer win here?

FRED COUPLES: Sure, I think Bay Hill is a very, very difficult course. I think Eagle Trace is difficult, and New Orleans I played one time. I think that is difficult. TPC is a bigger tournament and it is one of those deals. I mean, if Tommy Tolles or Michael Bradley come out and they don't play well tomorrow, it is not the end of the world. But for three days -- and Tommy is playing great. Michael Bradley has been playing great of late, so you know, it is not like I am going to sit there tomorrow and worry about guys that have won before that are maybe 10 or 11 under. I mean Tommy Tolles is playing some great golf. I think whether he has never won before, you know, he is the guy to catch, and if you look at it in a way where if the weather is good, you think he could be 15 or 16 under before he is done today, I don't know. But you know, if he doesn't and he comes out tomorrow realistically and plays good at all, I have no chance. So I think it is great. I'd like to see everyone -- I am no Jack Nicklaus, but it is fun to have a taste of having a shot at winning when you read the article of Michael Bradley at Doral, it is fun to read that. You don't ever read a guy that shoots 75 the last day, because normally he finishes up and he goes and obviously, he felt the pressure, but you lose to Greg Norman; there is not a whole lot to hang your head low about. So all these first-timers, it is either going to happen or it is not. And right now, there is a lot of good young players, obviously, I mean, Tim Herron led from the start; Scott McCarron, I have actually seen him play. He is very good. He is -- I don't think he played very good this week, but there is a little bit of a high of winning your first tournament and kind of not feeling a whole lot your second week.

Q. With so much at stake at this tournament, the 10 year exemption and the prize money, and on a course that everyone -- a lot of these young guys know so well, is that likely to be anymore pressure for them than winning Honda or New Orleans?

FRED COUPLES: Sure. They may not know there is a 10 year exemption, but I am sure when they get in here I am sure it is going to be brought up. All that runs through your mind. 630,000 that will make you race a little bit too. But it is the same for everybody. I couldn't care less about a 10 year exemption. I couldn't care less about 630,000, but that is not going to make it any easier for me tomorrow if I was tied with Tommy Tolles. I am a ways back, but that all comes with being there a few times. And you know, the fact is that I can go out there and play a great round and so can Tommy Tolles or Michael Bradley. They are just as capable as I am. It is not like that they are going to fall apart tomorrow. So the exemptions, all that, it could be a part of struggling, but I think this course will make you struggle more than anything. And today, it is pretty peaceful out there. It is wet. But it is not that difficult.

Q. 630,000 is like a bad November for you; isn't it?

FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, yeah, that is not nearly enough. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER.) Oddly enough, I don't know, that is a lot of money to play for. I think it is great. This is our biggest tournament. I see no reason why if it can be bumped up, we shouldn't play for it. But it would be nice to win here and the Tour Championship and the World Series, you would have a pocket full of money and some big victories. But it's amazing last year 5-under won; this year 5-under is going to be 35th place just because of a little rain. It is just too bad, because last year I don't remember -- I was nowhere near. I think I shot 73 every round, but it was a struggle doing that. It was a lot more challenging seeing the leaders. I remember watching them, you know, trying to make pars and now, I think, for us, you can't stop the weather, but it is unfortunate because I think tournaments are more fun when you are close to par than when you are 18 under or 16 under.

WES SEELEY: Anything else?

Q. Do you have a TV staked out for the game tonight?

FRED COUPLES: Right now I am going to see a therapist and I am watching that clock (pointing to clock) And I am going to watch a night of basketball.

End of FastScripts.....

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