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December 19, 2008

Fred Couples


DOUG MILNE: Fred Couples, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Chevron World Challenge. 3-under 69 today, a little hiccup on 18, but other than that a solid round. Just start off with a couple comments on today's round.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I mean, on 18 I'd like to say I've hit some shots like that before, but there was a chunk of mud all over the ball, so I knew it was going to go to the right where the mud was. I just couldn't hit it solid enough or far enough, and it went out straight to the right down there and I got very lucky to find it and make a 5.
I hit the ball very solid, made a few birdies and a few putts, and the only other bogey was on No. 8, the long par-3. I didn't hit a very good 3-iron and made bogey there.
But birdies were -- I birdied No. 2, No. 4, hit it a foot, No. 5, hit it on in two, and No. 9, made about a five-footer for birdie. And then the 12th hole, the par-3, from about eight feet, and then bogeyed the last.

Q. What's your secret for playing so well at the end of the year?
FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, I don't know. I played good yesterday and much better today. I've played this course so many times that that's an advantage. To win The Skins Game and to do all this stuff is not the toughest thing in the world to do. It's fun, and you still have to hit a shot and make a putt. But medal play here, I've played well a few times, not that many times, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
But I'm 49 years old. I wouldn't consider myself to be a threat too much anymore. But I know I can go around this course because of old habit, and I've played here and I like the course, so that certainly helps me. Maybe shoot a shot lower every day.

Q. Win this thing and you don't have to worry about top 50 next year to get back.
FRED COUPLES: Is that right? Did you ask somebody for sure? Tiger was teasing me.

Q. I asked Tommy and he told me (laughter).
FRED COUPLES: No, I've played so many times on a sponsor's exemption, and Tiger came up the other day, and he said, I've got to tell you something. I go, "Oh, my God, what did I do wrong?" He said, "You cannot play my tournament next year unless you're in the top 50." What am I, 400th right now?

Q. I had it at 387 last week.
FRED COUPLES: Well, Stewart and I finished 8th or 9th so that might have moved me down a couple points.
You know, at worst I'll play here Tuesday and Wednesday. I'll always come over here or I'll watch it.

Q. At 49, and your back and health has been well-documented, but do you take any special pride in finishing where you finished on the Money List through all the years?
FRED COUPLES: Actually last year I was cruising pretty well. I mean, I can pinpoint it through trying to qualify for the U.S. Open, playing 36 holes and missing it and then jumping on a plane and flying from Ohio to California. I woke up the next day, and I didn't hurt myself playing that day, I just felt horrible for a while. Up until that point, I didn't really have too many poor tournaments.
And then after that there were -- I missed a lot of cuts at the end of the year, I think three in a row, and I didn't really play that well. So it was kind of frustrating.
So next year I'm exempt; I'm going to play five in a row on the West Coast, and I hope to play well. I mean, I know I can play decent golf, so I've said it a long time.
Your question was four or five years ago if I continued to play really poor golf, I probably wouldn't do it. And even last year I showed some signs where I was in the top 10 a few times and played really well at Houston. I felt like I could still play a little bit.

Q. (Inaudible.)
FRED COUPLES: I know in 1986 I felt like quitting, and I just played really bad everywhere I played, and I played well at the PGA, I think, Hubert Green maybe, if that's the year. But other than that I've been mediocre-consistent for a few years -- is that a word, mediocre-consistent? I mean, my back is always an issue, but I've said a thousand times that if it was a wrist or a neck or something like that I probably wouldn't ever be playing. So I feel like I can get the ball around.
Would it be nice to feel good when I was 40, 41, 42? Yeah, but it didn't work out that way, and there have been a lot of times where I've taken it easy because I just feel so bad.
At the same time, you know, I want to play better, and if I work pretty hard, I can do it once in a while, and that's okay.

Q. You mentioned at 49 you're not a threat. What happens when you turn 49?
FRED COUPLES: I wasn't much of a threat at 48, either, but I did do fairly well (laughter).

Q. Is there anything in particular that you can't do now that you could do --
FRED COUPLES: First of all, look at some of the courses I do well at are ones that I play every year, so in my mind when I go to LA next year, I feel like if there's a tournament I'll do well, it'll be there. So in my mind it jumps out.
You know, I just think that I physically don't hit the ball every time sound like I did four, five, six, eight years ago. I some days play better than I did when I was 30, but I don't do it very often, and that's what it is.
My body goes out there, and there are some days where I look up and the ball is not going anywhere near where I want it to, and then the whole mindset changes that I try and work it around to shoot a score, and that's not really what you try and do. You try and play the game and shoot a score, and if you get 4-under you want to get 5. It seems like I get 1-over and I want to stay 1-over, and I can't attack the course because I don't play that well.

Q. It's a three-parter as such. Have you spoken to Paul Azinger since the Ryder Cup? Did you learn anything from his captaincy? And do you think he should have been kept on for the U.S. Team Ryder Cup?
FRED COUPLES: Last question, I think maybe he should have been kept on, but I'm not part of the PGA, but it would have been nice. We haven't won in a while; he won. Maybe he could have been asked. I have no idea.
I saw him at Naples and just laughed a little bit about the whole thing but didn't really talk to him about it.
What did I learn? I learned that we were ahead on the first day and we stayed ahead, and I think that's really what you want to do. Next year in October if they've got however many points and we have three, I can't go into the locker room and tell these guys, wow, we need to get going. Obviously they're pretty smart guys.

Q. (Inaudible.)
FRED COUPLES: I don't really know how to answer that because I don't know what he did. I think it's going to come out in his book. I'm not really sure. I don't know what he did to do that. It sounded like a great thing.

Q. I've got a three-parter, too. How many times have you been drug tested? How do you feel about it? And does it change your attitude if you're asked after a good round?
FRED COUPLES: I got asked yesterday. It took me two hours to finish it. I was a little pissed at first. And then I sat up there and I talked to the guy and he was actually very nice man. If it happens Sunday and I miss my flight, I'll be ballistic. Is that a word?
But on yesterday or Friday or Saturday, I can kind of get over it. But I really don't know, like -- I could have a huge outing on Monday, and he's telling me -- it took me two hours, and I kept drinking water, and he said, "If you keep drinking water it may not take;" it may be too this or that. I said, "So then what?" He said, "I'll have to follow you to the hotel, have to go to dinner with you." That's what the drug test is.
Do I have a problem with it? Not really, but I honestly think that -- in my opinion maybe if they drew my name before I played, it would not bother me. I can see where some guys may not want to be bothered before they play. I would rather have them tell me because I went on the 14th hole and I just sat with him for two hours. I don't know much about drug testing. That's my first time. I don't think it's a bad thing, it's just after learning more, I was asking him, so what happens if it's Sunday and I told you I've got to go to the airport and catch my flight? He goes, "You can't go." I don't know much about it.
DOUG MILNE: As always, we appreciate you coming in.

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