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December 5, 2007

Fred Couples

John Daly


THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Fred Couples and John Daly in the interview room here at the 2007 Merrill Lynch Shootout. Fred, making your 11th appearance here, a three-time winner, so obviously a format that you ready look forward to every year.
FRED COUPLES: I do. First, John and I have been paired a few times. Not in the last few years, but we've always talked about playing. I think, I don't know, three or four months ago I called, A, to let Greg know that I felt like I could play; and, B, who did he have. He said, John Daly, and I said, Perfect.
So that's how it came about, and we're going to have a great time. I enjoy the team events. I didn't play any this year so I can't say it's a refreshing thing, but John will tell you they're a lot fun. Obviously we want to play well. Main thing is we go out there and laugh and hit it around. It's a very relaxing week. I love the tempo of John's swing and how he hits it, so it'll be a blast.
THE MODERATOR: John, also your 11th appearance here. Comment on the week and how much you're looking forward to it.
JOHN DALY: It's like Freddy said, this is always a fun event. You know, you get to know all the amateurs real well in the Pro-Ams year after year after year, so you become friends with them. Like my guys, we had a blast today.
Like Freddy said, we been wanting to do this for quite a while. Unfortunately I'm a little rusty. I've sat on the couch for four weeks just resting my shoulder. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's the first time we've actually paired up as a team, so it'll be a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Questions.

Q. How did you guys first get familiar with one another, meet one another, and how long have you known each other?
JOHN DALY: I watched Freddy a little bit before I got on tour. We met, my first year on tour I met him. I think we actually got paired a couple times that year, '92, actually. So got know him pretty good. You know, just pretty good friends, but it's kind of distant. We don't get to see each other that much, but it's fun when we do.
FRED COUPLES: Actually my caddie who I had for a few years caddied for John when he won the PGA, Squeaky. So I don't -- like he said, I think we were paired somewhere along the way, but I didn't really know John. And then Jeff had said how far he hits it and how good he is.
And it was kind of like when Davis came on tour, just to play with younger guys. You know, I've always -- people always ask about John, and if he was not sitting here I would say the same. I think John is as talented as any top five player on the tour and doesn't make it easy. He's won two majors.
But just the way he plays, I just like his style of play. It's not the grip it and rip it, he's just one of the best drivers on tour, and I think that's going to be strong for our team this week. Whether he hasn't been playing much at all, I've been awfully rusty too.
Sometimes when you come back you're excited to play. We don't need to go hit the ball pure for three days. We just need to play our games, and we make a lot birdies. We'll make a lot mistakes, but that's kind of what I'm looking forward to.
It has nothing to do with winning. Just playing with him will be a lot fun. Our caddies are buddies.
JOHN DALY: Uh-huh.

Q. Fred, what are the aches and pains for you this year and how are you now?
FRED COUPLES: Well, the aches and pains were the same, just a lot more of the pain. I've not really flown anywhere the whole year and I flew here. I don't really feel all that great at the moment. I do you have a machine that I'm going to go use for most of the day. I don't really know what it is.
I flew from Palm Springs to Dallas and Dallas to here. You know, it's -- I sit at home, too, but I'm moving around. I don't really know if that was it, or just a little twitch. I'm actually okay, but each hole was like, Something is going to happen.
So I do have a machine and I don't foresee really any problem. But I'm amazed that I felt really good for about a month and a half I've been playing, and as soon as we get on a plane and go somewhere today didn't feel the same.

Q. What do you mean a machine?
FRED COUPLES: I travel with a little frequency machine that I put on and it takes some pain away.

Q. John, I was going to ask you about the Heisman.
JOHN DALY: McFadden. I think he deserves it. I know Tebo had a hell of a year, but kind of like everybody says, to win it as a sophomore it's pretty -- and I think McFadden really had a better year and should have won it last year. But being a sophomore that he was, you know, I think the Ohio State quarterback got it last year. I honestly think McFadden should have got it last year. Hopefully they'll give it tom him this year. I think he deserves it this year.
FRED COUPLES: I'm going with Colt Brennen.
JOHN DALY: He's good.
FRED COUPLES: I think he's phenomenal, and I grew up as a Husky fan. You know, they were down 21-0 and he brought them back and they won. But I don't, you know, I mean, doesn't really matter to me. Chris DiMarco I'm sure was in here and pushing his guy. But they're all phenomenal. Any one of those three or four guys could win it.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: You know, it's all up in the air. I mean I played the Phoenix Open and I played at Augusta. At Pebble Beach I never even got off the tee. To sit around for eight months and not play any golf, I thought, you know, would help. Maybe it will. But it is what it is. There's not a whole lot I can do about it.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, in 15 years I've gone to see 50 people. It's not like I really don't try. It gets very frustrating. You go see a guy and they work on you. Of course you're going to feel -- if I went and taught you for two days in a row I would hope your game would be a little better.
But once you leave for five months you forget it all. I mean, I had people work on me and I'd feel great. Then I'd go work or play and it doesn't last. If I can continue to play -- I don't mind when it hurts, but lately it just gets to where I lay down for a week or two and then I come back and it takes five or six weeks to play in a tournament.
You know, by the time -- like John will say -- if the tournament was starting now he would be coming to the event saying, I want to get the kinks out and next week I'll get a little better. Well, when my back goes out, five weeks alter I feel like I'm back. I play a couple weeks and it goes out, and next thing you know five months are gone and you played five events and three were just to play in. So it's really no fun. It's not worth the effort.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: You know, no, otherwise I would be telling you I feel great.

Q. John you mentioned your shoulder. What happened with that, and have you had any other health stuff going on this year, too?
JOHN DALY: No, just my rib. At Honda that lady took the picture. I separated my shoulder and my rib. The rib Doc Whitelaw (phonetic) popped it had back in no problem. And the shoulder he's popped in about seven or eight times, and he popped it in about eight weeks ago. So four weeks have done nothing. Just don't do anything he said for four weeks. Play the Shark Shootout and see how it feels.
I am rusty, but it just got to the point -- I started swinging role model bad because my down swing I would get the shoulder real bad because I'd let the shoulder go this way instead of more and more this way instead of that way because I was so scared it was going to break again.
So I had to change the swing just a little bit. I mean, I feel for Freddy. This is kind of the first time it's ever happened to me. I've been very lucky. I'm a very flexible guy. But what he's going through the last ten years of his career, one of the greatest players that ever played and stuff like this that you have no control over, it really frustrates you.
I tried to play through it all year and had to withdraw from tournaments because it kept popping out. I feel for him. I mean, this year has just sucked for this. It really has.
It's unfortunate it happened, and it shouldn't have happened, but I understand how he feels now.

Q. Fred, have you had to contemplate the possible end of playing? Has this been any different than other times?
FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, to be honest, it wasn't until this year, and then I did come back two different times. I went down to the desert to practice, and the first day two hours, and the day or the second time I went down there I got an exemption in the PGA.
I wanted to go just kind of to go and see everybody, so I went. I lasted a day and a half. I thought, you know, This is crazy. Because I go down there feeling great, but as soon as, you know -- John, I mean, for people, you know, if you're a football or baseball player -- I'm 48 years old. I've been doing it so. Long, other sports you just kind of get away.
To answer your question, I'm not the kind of guy that wants to half do it. I don't feel like I can go out next year and win three times, but if I can come close to winning three times, that's well worth it to me. But to go just to do it, I just -- my body would say, Don't do it, with my mind telling me, Don't do it.
Versus if my mind thinks that I'm playing pretty well I'd do it forever. So I just don't know how long I'll last. I can tell you that, no, I foresee that -- could be Sunday night that I'll never play again.
On the other hand, I been doing it 27 years. I mean, that's a long time. I don't want to play the senior tour until I'm 55 or 56 years old. As I get closer to it I do want to play a little bit. I'm hoping that will happen. Obviously I do want to play with John. We both play more at home I think than we do -- I mean, I enjoy playing at home.
John used to be in the desert and you get good games. It's just to go out and play, to pass time. But that's something that I don't want to not be able to do, is when I'm 55 living in Palm Springs not be able to play two or three times a week. That would bother me more than at this time not playing the Tour.

Q. (No microphone.)
JOHN DALY: No. Sciatic nerve problems a couple times that lasted about six weeks, but never had back problems. This is really -- besides my right-hand, all those fingers have been broke, but that's a different thing.
But this is the first really broken -- besides my fingers, this has really been the first thing that's been broken outside this hand. I tell you what, it's frustrating. Really is frustrating.

Q. John, did I read at the end of the year that you're going to see Butch Harmon?
JOHN DALY: Yeah, I'm going to hook up with Butch probably after Christmas. Maybe the week of Mercedes before I go to Sony.

Q. Tell me about that, the commitment there. How did you come about going to see him?
JOHN DALY: I did the commercial with Butch and Natalie about three or four weeks ago, actually about five weeks ago, and said Butch, What do you think? He said, You just need some direction, man. You just need to come out and see me when we can work together, not on the road.
Butch will push you. I never had anybody push me to do things. I think Freddy works with Butch and he's helped lot the guys. The swing that's phenomenal that I saw that he helped is Natalie's. If you ever go to Butch's place -- you seen her?
It was the most God-awful swing I had ever seen in my life. Her head was literally here on her takeaway, and now it's perfect. It's stuff like that that there's not too many teachers that can change something like that, and he did. I have faith in him and I know Mickelson has faith in him. I just need some different eyes to look at me, and I think he's one of the best.

Q. Can you dig in at this point in your career and really go for what he's going to push you to do?
JOHN DALY: Yeah, I need to be pushed hard. It's something that maybe should have been done a long time ago, but I was too stubborn. You get a little older and your eyes don't see things and you don't feel the same as you would normally if you're 25 or 30 or whatever.
He can see that, that I may not be able to feel. That's one of the biggest reasons that I need to see one someone. I'm not feeling everything like I used to. He can see the direction that I need to go and I can work just a small tip or whatever can get me where I need to be.
FRED COUPLES: Butch is excited about it. I talked to Butch. You know what? That's a good thing. Because Butch, I know Butch -- not naming names, but there are a few people that he's turned down because he's so busy. But I saw him during the Wendy's thing and I went and worked with him a couple times and he had mentioned that, so I think it's neat. And he is phenomenal. We all know that.

Q. JD, you were a little bit younger than Freddy. When he was out in the '80s you were a kid. What are your memories of Freddy back from that era?
JOHN DALY: I don't want bring up ex-wives or anything, but the memorable thing is Houston when Deborah came out and jumped on you. That's what I remember. He was up in the leaderboard every time I watched him on TV. You fall in love with a figure like that that -- you know, I idolized Nicklaus, but always loved Freddy because he was always on the leaderboard and he was just so laid back.
Just didn't give a shit. That's what it kind of was. He's just so laid back. Doesn't get upset or really down, just kind of low key, and it was pretty cool to see that.
FRED COUPLES: That's when my back started hurting me. When was that? It was the Kemper Open. That was worth it.

Q. Do you guys ever do like least (indiscernible) balls for the week gets a bonus?
FRED COUPLES: Actually, you know, he's a closet practicer, Johnny. But we'll be -- we're a few wedges and a few 5-irons, and then the first tee is right there.
JOHN DALY: My home is right on the first tee too, so I shouldn't be missing any tee times.

Q. I want to get your thoughts on Gregory Lang. I know his mom's -- John I think you texted him during the Open. Just your thoughts on him.
JOHN DALY: It's just a sad thing. You know, I mean, people battling cancer or whatever it is, you just hate to see it happen. My caddie, Greg, God bless him. He's a good guy. He quit smoking, started working out, and had a heart attack this summer and now found out he had a brain tumor.
You just never know when and never think it's going to be you. When it's someone really close to you it really hurts. All I can say is God bless him, and hopefully he gets better.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thanks for coming by.

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