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July 12, 2006

Fred Couples


GORDON SIMPSON: Nice to have Freddie back with us or I should say here for the first time at the Loch Lomond for the Barclays Scottish Open. Maybe give us your assessment of the facilities of the course and the conditioning here, and not the weather this week.

FRED COUPLES: I have been chilling out since Augusta; I've been very chilled, been to Wimbledon, even on the course.

GORDON SIMPSON: You can get pretty chilly here as well!

FRED COUPLES: That's okay. I don't mind cold weather. I worked very hard, and after reading a little bit on the week off, a lot of sports and hearing you have to work very hard at anything that you do, and doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be the best player in the world to work hard. I mean, there are people out there that are making cuts and struggling to keep their cards that work as hard.

But I just hit a wall after Augusta. Even though it was so short in the year, and I just haven't bounced back very well at all. And I don't know, I'm just very erratic, but playing a course like this, will keep you on your toes, and I've got four days of golf to play and then head on down to St. Andrews to Hoylake. I wish it was St. Andrews. (Laughter).

Q. Is it your goal to make the team?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think it's everyone's goal, sure. You know, it's going to be an unbelievable Ryder Cup in Ireland.

I have been to the golf course. Last year I played in J.P.'s Pro Am. We stayed for an extra week and the one course is crowded so I played the other course, I think that's where they played this year. So I don't know much about it. But it's such a beautiful place, and those guys will do a tremendous job.

So unlike anyone else, my goal, I have to play well. I've got to go to the British Open and besides Augusta, which is my favourite tournament and do well. And I don't think that means to be getting well, let's to the get carried away. If I can play well, I don't know to be in the Top 10 to get so called Ryder Cup points but I can't finish 50th and expect Tom Lehman to look at me any differently after that. After playing there, I have a couple other weeks, and of course the PGA.

It will be fun to give it a try. If not, I've been on a lot of teams, and there's a lot of young guys sixth through 10th or sixth through 12th now. You know, and I said to some other people, they have to get on these teams sooner or later, and Lucas Glover, I don't know if anyone knows, he's a very good player. He's consistent and he's just good.

It's not a problem but when you play more you have more chances to get in there. It's not misleading because I play enough events. I just don't play well enough to be consistently getting points. I played well at the Masters and the British Open and I got a lot of points for those and that's basically why I'm at 11th place now, not just I'm in the Top 10 every other week.

Q. Is it a case of having to play well from now to get in the team?

FRED COUPLES: Well, it is. And I've always wanted to come here. It used to be I came to Gleneagles several years in a row, and I thought it was such a bonus to be here playing. Because to be honest, I missed nothing on the PGA TOUR. I've done it long enough that playing the week before, and I'll be honest with you, I don't even know where they are this week.

Q. John Deere.

FRED COUPLES: John Deere. There are a couple guys playing, and they will fly over. And that's not a problem. Nowadays traveling is easy and it's not too tough of a spot to get to from Chicago. My.

Goal is to play here and have a good time and work on my game. Actually, Butch Harmon is not coming over, so I've had Bob Torrance watch me hit balls yesterday and today. You know, if he's here, I'll have him watch, and I'll see him at the British, too.

Q. How do you know Bob?

FRED COUPLES: I've known Bob for 30 years on Tour. I've always enjoyed Sam. Seems like I played a lot of rounds with Sam. And yesterday I said jokingly, "I'm playing so poorly, is your dad here?" And actually he sent him over later in the day. I played nine holes with Sam, the back nine and Bob's coming in here.

He's got a great eye. I can't understand what he's saying but I understand what he's trying to say golf-wise. My caddie is saying I honestly can understand him. It's pretty come I Cal it's pretty very weird for American language in a good way. The things he told me right off the bat were the things that eve been feeling, but I can't do them. A couple times, I don't know that much about the swing, so it's not like a one word answer. And he told me a couple things, and one thing clicked in and I feel like I'm hitting the ball very solid. So it's nice.

But again, I've known Bob since '83 I guess I met him over here.

Q. What do you know about some of the younger players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team at this point?

FRED COUPLES: Well, if you give me them right, I think J.J. Henry, Lucas Glover, Vaughn Taylor, Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich.

We'll start with Brett Wetterich, make sure I'm saying his name right. He's very, very long and he's had an unbelievable run of four or five weeks in a row where I think he was in the final group three times in a row and won at the Byron Nelson. You know, he's a guy that I think is capable of showing up and being fantastic. And if he's not, it can be a little bit of a case of nerves and that's understandable. I'll never forget the first time I went to The Belfry, it was just very hard to function. But his game is a game where he could go play with the right guy and do well. Everyone can.

Zach Johnson is very Jim Furyk like, very straight, very consistent and very good. I think he's won once and he'll win more. So he's good.

And then J.J. Henry has been around for a while. You know, he's very he plays a lot. He's very consistent. I don't think he I want to say last year he had a very mediocre year or the year before, but I would say of those guys, he would be good with any partner.

And these are answering honestly. I don't think we are talking about, you know, the next Tiger Woods in any of these guys, but I don't think we're talking about an Ian Poulter and Parnevik would make the team and give me a couple other guys, we know who they are, and they are very good. It's just under those circumstances, you throw a guy into the last group on a Sunday of the U.S. Open and say, hey, go play against Tiger or Phil, he's probably not going to do well.

In a team thing, I don't think all 12 guys are going to dominant the Ryder Cup. I don't think that's ever going to happen. If you just get your points, and these guys are all capable of doing that. Vaughn Taylor, you know, is very quiet. I don't know him that well. But again, they are all to make the Ryder Cup Team, you have got to have had some good finishes. And I know J.J. Henry went from quite a ways back to where he is by winning. But it's better that he won right now than he did a year ago. So it's important that I think Justin Leonard is close and Davis Love, and myself, but again, I need to play really, really well and, you know, Davis is the same. I don't think Davis would tell you right now that, you know, he's definitely on the outside looking in and at the same time he's definitely close enough to be picked because Toms may need some experience.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I had never played that well at Augusta. Even I putted pretty solidly for 71 holes and from the 14th hole on Sunday, I 3 putted from four feet. That is going to happen. It just happened at a time where it wasn't very good.

But hitting the ball, I feel like I can maneuver the ball around a course. At Augusta, I started bombing it off the tee. I was driving it with Phil. At Hoylake, if it's windy and nasty weather, I feel like I can get it around the course by hitting into the wind or around the wind. It's not like I can sit here and tell you I'm going to be up there at Hoylake. I just have to be ready and swinging well, and that doesn't happen nearly as much, but I'm not to a spot quite yet where I think age is a factor. Because when I do do well, I don't think it's surprising, and I do the same things that I did 10 years or 12 years ago. I hit the ball very solid and very long.

Even though there are 40 percent of the people now that hit the ball as far as I do, whereas back then, there were only a handful, I feel like I'm smarter on the course and I can shoot 70 instead of 71. Not because I'm 45 or 46 years old.

It won't be long for them. I'm pretty sure the age is coming up I can feel it coming, but the British Open is, again, such an unbelievable place to play. By being there so many years, I think that helps me a shot around. I don't know why. I just feel like it.

When I was at St. Andrews last year, you know, such an incredible place and all the history and all that, but the people are what makes tournaments, in my opinion. You go to New York and it's a different crowd, but it's a fun crowd; and you good to St. Andrews or Turnberry, I mean, they know what's going on. You don't have to be absolutely perfect for people to cheer and Raleigh behind you. It's a nice feeling.

Q. Most of the US rookies have never played in Europe. Is that a problem?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think you can look at it, you'd have to be, not golf savvy to say it, I don't want to use this differently, a problem. Because there's going to be some teams automatically picked, partners, and it looks like Tiger and Furyk would be an absolute go. DiMarco is someone that I think would probably be picked and he and Phil Mickelson played very well together at the Presidents Cup.

So now it might be a good thing that you would put some of these younger guys together. And I don't know how much J.J. Henry knows Brett Wetterich or Vaughn Taylor. I mean, everyone kind of knows each other. That's something he would have to work out.

And then I think what will happen is Tom would pick guys on the outside that could immediately go in and play with someone; and Davis and Lucas Glover are friends, are with the same managing group. And I'm kind blind on some of the other players, I don't know any standbys besides Tiger and Furyk, Mickelson and Toms; but I know he's hurt. He pulled out of the Open, he pulled out of the British.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: Over in Europe? Well, one helpful thing is pretty much a course like this or a course like we play at home. I can only speak for looking back because I've done it a few times but for any of them who have traveled over here, I would say that would be different to play under that kind of a crowd. It will be very friendly but it will be one sided. You have to you know, I'm sure I'll play a few times with Lucas next week because I'm staying with him.

You just have to mentally get him prepared for that. It's just a different feeling and you have to have a good partner. It's very important to play with someone who cannot just be out there with you, but, you know, there's a lot of things you're going to do in a week, especially in the first round, that are not going to be perfect. And you're going to worry about the crowd and all that by missing a putt or hitting a bad tee shot, and that's kind of what affects you.

It's not so much never travelling and doing all that, but usually when you play, you have people rooting for you, and they are not rooting against you, but you know they are out there rooting 99 percent harder for the other team, which is totally understandable.

So that's really what the Ryder Cup, the hard thing is for a younger player, is just get the feel and all of a sudden you're out there, pretty much, as they say, by yourself with, you know, very few people following you that are kind of interested in what you're actually doing.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: I've always said yeah. I enjoy traveling. And some of the better tournaments that I've played in it is misleading. Everywhere almost all the time, eight out of ten times you go, you're paid to go and but that's sometimes why you go, but really for me, I just enjoy getting away and playing other places.

I say this every single time, I felt like when I went and played somewhere, I played better because they are really only seeing you one time. When you play in the United States, if you don't play well one week, people don't usually go away thinking you're a bad player. You come to Australia or come play in the Scottish Open and play poorly, they think you're a chop because they are only seeing you one time. And I think it's good to come play anywhere, whether it's in Asia.

So is it a mistake? They are not that Lucas Glover is really a talented, talented player who knows what's going on. He's with Davis a lot. Vaughn Taylor, I think is someone who has come up through the ranks and is an exceptional player. I don't know if he's someone who will travel much. I think he's a very laid-back guy and will play there, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It all depends on who you are, you know, what you want to do.

I think when these guys make the team and they come over here to Ireland, they will enjoy that and I think they will understand it's a lot of fun to come play and maybe that will spur them onto besides the British Open, coming over here and trying to play some more.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I couldn't argue any of that. Everyone used to always ask what it was like to play against Sandy Lyle or Nick Faldo. I certainly didn't look at them as my brother. But I looked at them as just golfers. You know, Trevor Immelman has had a phenomenal year on our tour, and he's a world class player. And to be honest with you, I don't even know how many years he played on The European Tour, but he's now a PGA TOUR player it seems like, and I give him a lot of credit, because they want to play all over the world, and that's kind of the way it is. Whereas for the PGA TOUR, whether you like it or not, most people want to be on the PGA TOUR and then you kind of don't ever want to leave it.

I think when you get world class player such as Ernie Els, they become better players by really getting out of their own country and playing in other spots. And they are very, very good. I think that's certainly helped them, because a, it's hard to travel, and b, it's different grasses, and c, if you're Trevor Immelman at a young age and you're being paired with Tiger woods and Jim Furyk and all those people, it's definitely a shot in the arm to play well with them.

So if you get Vaughn Taylor to come over here and get paired with Colin Montgomerie and suddenly doesn't play well, it's disappointing.

But if you get him in the United States, play well, it's not that big of a deal. And I think that's where world class players, they come and they play well everywhere they good, and I think that's hard to do.

Q. Three parts - how's the back, when did you first come over here and what did Bob tell you?

FRED COUPLES: The first thing, my back is doing well. The second thing, I believe, well, my first British Open was at St. Andrews in '84 when Seve won. I was sitting on the stairs. I finished, I should know, I think third or fourth, and I was sitting on the stairs right off the green when he made that putt. And that was like, wow. I mean, that was pretty incredible stuff.

And then Bob told me a couple things. One would be I'm coming up out of the shot and he's giving me a couple things you'd have to ask him, I'm doing them, but it's trying to stay down lower instead of coming up out of the shot, and it's been a great thing. Because I've actually in my mind been trying not to do it, and I think I've been by what he's been telling me, doing it more thinking I'm doing it less. So I was digging myself in a pretty good hole.

Q. Inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: I think he's very quiet. You can play a round of golf with him and find out a little bit about him, but that's not really what you're supposed to do on the course. But he's in the too talkative, which is not the end of the world. I think their games are similar. I think Ian Poulter is a phenomenal player, and when he went to, where did he go, Boston and he played one match or whatever do I have that right? Did he play once or twice?

Q. What about Poulter?

FRED COUPLES: Did he lose to Tiger? Didn't Ian Poulter make two teams already? Well, someone, they didn't play because they, I don't know why, but I think that Tom will play all of these guys and I'm not picking on the captains. What I'm saying is we know how good Ian Poulter is, and when he made the team, we knew he was a very good player. That's what Tom is trying to putt you always kind of pair people up, I don't think because they have blond hair or they have the swing the same; they have the same kind of game; they hit the ball extremely well.

Q. Tom Lehman last week compared Vaughn Taylor as a quiet Ian Poulter inaudible?

FRED COUPLES: You know, I've only played with Vaughn Taylor one time, and actually, I do watch him hit balls. I think he's got a very good swing. When you see people playing well, you just kind of want to take a minute to see what they do, and that's kind of what I've done. I played one hole in a rain delay and I joined his group because everyone was withdrawn and I played one hole with him. But it's not like I don't pay any attention.

Everyone kind of has an edge, and I don't really know what edge he has. I know he's very feisty and fiery, which I think is a good thing. That's probably what he meant. But I don't think Ian Poulter I think Vaughn may be someone who can in correct words would lose it a little quicker than most, which I think is a good thing for golf. I have no problem when a guy gets slightly upset. I don't think he should be ranting and raving, but to be upset when you're in the playing well or if something happens is a good thing. I think Ian Poulter is very much the opposite but I don't know.

Q. No head-butts?

FRED COUPLES: That's a new thing for us. We'd rather kick well, no, they have helmets and pads.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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