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June 14, 1994

Fred Couples


LES UNGER: Fred has just come off a very hot round of golf, temperaturewise and --

FRED COUPLES: Not golfwise.

LES UNGER: We are going to have to ask him the obligatory question about his health right now to start things off.

FRED COUPLES: Well, I feel great. I played last week, and my main goal really was to come out and play last week, this week and next week in Hartford. And as the week went on, I felt much better. Friday I played in the afternoon, and when I finished I was very, very tired. But Saturday and Sunday, my back felt fine and, you know, golfwise, I have a long way to go to practice, but I think I am in good shape. This is a very difficult week to come out and play. If you are not quite on your game, you are not going to have much of a chance. I need to look at it really as I want to play well, but I also want to be careful in what I am doing and not trying to go out with a 5-iron in eight inches of rough because of the situation. So far as my back, I feel great. I really like to play well, but I have got a lot of work ahead of me.

Q. The humidity and the heat has to help the back a little bit; doesn't it?


Q. Yeah.

FRED COUPLES: I guess. I don't know. It is awfully hot, but when I hurt myself it was 100 down there, so it didn't help it there. But as far as is evident, before I start, I need to stretch a lot and do some exercises and that warms it up. But as far as the heat, it certainly isn't going to hurt.

Q. You said you had a lot of work to do. Anything specifically that you need to work on which you are not up to 100%?

FRED COUPLES: Last week I hit the ball very well from tee to green. I chipped and putted good at times and very bad at times. That is kind of the big problem. Here, you know, you can't get away with four, five bad holes. Westchester, there was a lot of rough. There were a lot of irons off the tees. I didn't try to do anything spectacular. I drove the 10th green. I played very conservative and this week is the same thing. But missing the fairway here isn't going to hurt you, but if I miss three or four in a row on nine holes, turning three or four over, that is too much to come back from. So I have got to really be patient and try and get the fairways; that will help my game. But as far as working, I just need to keep involved in practicing. The problem is -- that is what bothers it the worse. I could probably play everyday, but hitting balls for a couple of hours is not what I want to do yet. That is also my concern. This is the U.S. Open and I want to play my best and I really can't go out to the range now and just cream balls all afternoon.

Q. What did you miss most about being off the tour these 100 and some days?

FRED COUPLES: Actually, I didn't miss anything. To answer that quick and short, my mother passed away on Mother's Day and I was up in Seattle for close to a month off and on. So golf was the furthest thing from my mind. If I was going to hurt myself, it was actually great timing but I got to go up and spend time with her, and my dad, and brother, and sister, so I really didn't miss it much. I watched a little -- I watched The Masters, of course, and the TPC and a few other tournaments, but I think it might be good to have taken a couple of -- two and a half months off.

Q. Fred, how much are you going to play the rest of the summer and where?

FRED COUPLES: I will probably play some tournaments I haven't played in a while. I don't know what ones just yet. But, you know, I think I will play a lot more than I do at the end of the year, which may mean, you know, ten or 12 more tournaments. I think I can get 15 in no problem, this being my fifth, so that is not a whole lot. But if I can get through three weeks at a time and take a break, I will be okay as far as playing. And, you know, again, my biggest concern is really traveling. It is not getting up and playing a round of golf. It is doing all the other stuff. My back doesn't hurt at all. It is maybe picking up luggage if I don't have to. That is probably the worst thing I can do, something I shouldn't be doing, and then playing golf, it shouldn't hurt me.

Q. Fred, you mentioned about the rough. Is the type of rough thick enough that it could bother your back?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I don't think so because if -- again, if you get a very bad lie in the rough, first time I played today you can't really get it to the green. What you don't want to do is get it up near the green and then in the rough again because then you have no shot to stop the ball. So if you get a bad lie, you will probably pitch it out to where you can leave yourself at least a full sand wedge, so it shouldn't be a problem. It just might be, you know, trying to do a little too much. It can become a problem.

Q. How difficult is this course?

FRED COUPLES: It is going to be very, very difficult if we don't get rain. Any other U.S. Open, you can play the course. Here, these greens are virtually impossible from some spots. If they get hard, you are going to get to those spots all day long. You don't want to be above the pin. How are you going to stop the ball below the pin when it doesn't stop? So, I think, you know, by watching it, I firmly believe the winner is going to make a lot of great shots and make a lot of birdies and he is going to make a lot of bogeys. I don't see too many guys going out there and parring 17 holes and making one birdie and shoots one under. The greens are so good that if you get it in the right spot, you will see a guy making a lot of birdies, but on the other hand you can 3-putt from, 4 or 5 feet very easily. The U.S. Open is dictated by the rough. There is a lot of rough. But Oakmont really starts when you get to the greens.

Q. What kinds of exercise regimen are you doing now and did you do anything in that -- what did you do before?

FRED COUPLES: You mean before Doral?

Q. Before you got hurt, yeah.

FRED COUPLES: Actually, a little bit. But not correct, you know, there are good ways and bad ways of doing it. I learned, you know, how to exercise and how to do them and they are stabilization, so I am trying to strengthen my stomach and my legs to protect my back and really the exercises are just pretty much what most people do. .

Q. I know there were some extenuating circumstances with your mother dying. Did it bother you or scare you at all that you didn't miss being out there?

FRED COUPLES: No. No. I think 14 years -- this is my 14th year and to take three months off, it wasn't much if, you know, to hurt myself and I wouldn't have taken the time off if I hadn't hurt myself, but the biggest disappointment this year was I kind of tried to make a little more of an effort to practice and play and I lost a couple very close tournaments and lost one overseas to Greg Norman and I was playing well at Doral and I hurt myself, so the biggest disappointment was the fact that I was playing very well and looking forward to a real big year. Now, can I still do it? Sure. But I think it's going to take awhile. But I did not miss the playing. I missed the competition. I missed playing, as I said last week at Westchester, I missed playing against you know, Greg Norman and Nick Price and all the other real good players, but as far as not being out there and being at home, it really wasn't that big of a deal not to be out there.

Q. Fred, do you wear a brace now at all when you play or practice?

FRED COUPLES: No. I have a little thing I travel with to protect support my back it is just a little roll. And I really -- I don't know much about anyone else who has hurt themselves or whatever, but I feel very good. I swing and hit the ball and oddly enough, most tiring thing is standing around and doing everything before the round or after, because that is what I am used to doing. Right now, the least I can be on my feet, the better off I am.

Q. When I saw you this morning you were still looking for a game. Did you finally find one?

FRED COUPLES: I did, but I didn't -- I played with Phil Mickelson and Calcavecchia which was good because both are great putters and as I answered to her, the greens are extremely difficult and I think today, except for the speed, I think that is going to be the big problem for me is putting because I -- I haven't putted in awhile. I haven't really practiced much. Now getting on these greens, you know, they make real good putters look bad and that is kind of the situation I will be in all week.

Q. Does it bother your back to practice putting for a long time?

FRED COUPLES: Probably not. You need to be careful. Bending over is not the problem. If I can go up-- maybe come back later tonight and practice, but I will probably won't. I will probably go home and come back tomorrow and pay a little more attention to putting.

Q. Do you feel that the back problems have taken any distance off the tee shot?

FRED COUPLES: No. Not a problem.

Q. Have you talked with Trevino and Fuzzy who had back problems before for any kind of advice?

FRED COUPLES: No, I saw Trevino at Pro Am a week ago and Monday up in Detroit and he just said take care and, you know, try not to do anything stupid. As far as what I can learn, I don't know what they had, you know, and what I have been told is just to be careful and playing golf should not bother.

Q. Augusta is supposed to be the standard for fast, severe greens. How do these things stack up against Augusta?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think -- Augusta, again, when it is dry, they are just like these. We are dry right now, you know, Augusta has an undulation and all that, but these are every single green and at Augusta, you are not playing on the rough at all. So as far as the pace of the greens, once you get on them, they are very similar. Chipping, you will see guys chipping from across the green, over the green. You will see guys really do some funny things, and that is just because you can't stop the ball. That is when the guy does drive in the fairway; you will see some guys lay the ball way back. The worse thing you can do is be pin-high to the green; not in the bunker, in the rough, and you have no chance. So the speed of the greens right now are just like Augusta without any rough around them. So chipping is going to be a chore.

LES UNGER: Thank you very much.

FRED COUPLES: Thank you guys.

End of FastScripts....

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