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February 21, 2009

Fred Couples


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Fred Couples into the interview room here at the Northern Trust Open. You made your 100th round at the Northern Trust Open a great one today, 6-under par 65. Just some comments on your day.
FRED COUPLES: Obviously it was a good day. It's besides Augusta, my favourite course and I feel like no matter how I'm playing, I'm going to come here and play well. It's just a week where everything is kind of falling into place. I had a great day today. Actually played well on Thursday and Friday, too. So today was just a day of hitting a little closer and making a few putts.
JOHN BUSH: Just comment on that start, 5-under par 30 on the front.
FRED COUPLES: Right. I hit a good drive and an iron, 5-iron on the first hole and 2-putted.
No. 3, hit an 8-iron to about 15 feet and made it.
No. 5, hit an 8-iron probably 15 feet and made it.
No. 6, 7-iron to about ten feet.
And then No. 9, hit an 8-iron probably ten, 12 feet behind the hole and made it.
I had a chance at 10. And then 11, hit two woods in the middle of the green and 2-putted for birdie.
Then drove it up against the fence on No. 12 and hacked it down the fairway and hit a full wedge to about eight feet and made it for par.
One more birdie somewhere. 14, I hit 7-iron to about two feet and made it.
And then seemed like a good break when I hit it but on the 15th hole, I drove down the fairway and it hit a sprinkler head, which ricocheted it down the fairway, but through the fairway, in probably the worst lie I've had the whole week in the rough. I hacked a wedge, I was trying to fly it on the front edge and it flew a yard short and hit in the kikuyu and stopped and had probably 50 feet. From the tee I thought it would be a mile down the fairway and it actually went another four or five yards in the rough. So it was lucky and unlucky.

Q. Do you think the weather conditions were a factor?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I saw Calcavecchia's name up there and I think he had a good round and some of the other guys. Overcast is always easy to play in. Early tee times on the West Coast, so tomorrow we'll be playing I guess a little later, 10:30, so you are not out there at two o'clock playing harder greens.
So the scoring is going to be better just because of what time we play and the sun not coming out to dry or make the greens harder.

Q. After seeing you at poppy last week, talking about the six-hour rounds and the grind, even though it's fun, I'm curious how tired you were coming into this weekend, because you love this place so much, was it almost the ideal place to have to come to?
FRED COUPLES: I missed the cut so I didn't play Sunday or Monday or Tuesday.
You know, this is my fifth week in a row, which I ended up playing at Pebble Beach with Justin Timberlake. I wasn't going to play there so I threw that in there. I had a lot of rest and I feel good. I have one more day and then I'll probably have a month off.
So tomorrow if I can go out -- to have a shot at winning is going to be a lot of fun. I don't know if they are still going under par or what's leading. But I know I'm going to need another 65 or 66 to have a shot at winning, I'm sure.

Q. Are you planning a month off?

Q. Is there something about this course that lends itself to guys with a lot of experience? Tommy Armour, 49, he's on the leaderboard and you and Calcavecchia.
FRED COUPLES: I can speak for myself. I think the things that I have done well here is I'm a pretty good iron player. I hit a lot of greens, and the greens here are awfully small, overall.
You know, you can get away with some drives that are in the rough because the rough is not up, or up -- I guess it all depends on what kind of lie you get on this kind of grass but most of them are a pretty good lie.
The older guys that have played here a bunch, some of the greens, you know, they look like they are breaking left and they break right. Even I miss putts not because of my stroke; just because I misread them after 25 or 26 years of doing it.
But speaking for me, I can walk around there and not pay any attention at all, and maybe that's why I'm doing well; because I've played the course so many times.

Q. A hundred rounds; surprising?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. Yeah. So I haven't missed -- you know, these are places, I wish I had won a lot more times here, but I've had a lot of chances. But I think it's a phenomenal course. You can play really, really well and shoot 70, and you can come out the next day and shoot 65 or 66 and do the same thing.
It's just because the greens are so small. When you hit a really good iron, you're going to be ten or 12 feet.

Q. Are you discouraged at all when you walk in and see Phil running off some birdies and putting some distance between you guys?
FRED COUPLES: What is he now? 15? He started at 8?

Q. 7.
FRED COUPLES: So he's 8-under. Yeah, that's a phenomenal round.
So am I surprised? I don't know how to answer; surprised that he's 8-under? A little bit. Surprised that he's leading? No.

Q. Not surprised. I don't know if you knew where he was when you finished.
FRED COUPLES: When I finished, I think the most I saw maybe was Sabbatini at 12.

Q. Is it discouraging at all?
FRED COUPLES: I didn't catch that part. Discouraging? Yes. (Laughter).
This is my big day tomorrow to have a shot at winning. I don't want these guys being 19-under. (Laughter).
But when I was coming down in the cart, I was telling the guy, I thought maybe another 6-under might do it. Might need 9-under. I have had 62 here.
But discouraging in a fun way. I love all of these guys to death. If I can't win, I'd rather some guy shoot 64s and 65s every round to win. And I'm on my last leg here.

Q. Talking about your love of the golf course, and the great architecture, on 10, you laid up very far to the right. Can you talk about how you approach the 10th hole all the time, and why you played that shot today?
FRED COUPLES: I shanked that shot today. (Laughter).
But to be honest with you, every day I try and go further left than people think. And very rarely do I hit driver there.
But over the years, I've played it really, really well. And I try and go this way.
And today in my mind, I knew where the pin was and I tried to go further to the right and then I told myself even further, and I just kind of luckily was in the fairway. If it had gone another yard to the right in the rough, I would have had no shot. But I hit a great little 75-yard shot in there to stop it. But that's a tough, tough hole.

Q. You said last leg; what is the plan now?
FRED COUPLES: My plan is to play the TOUR this year, play later on in the year with some guys that may have a shot at making The Presidents Cup team and enjoy that, and then October, try and be the captain of the winning team, and then the next day I fly to Houston to play in the Champions Tour event.

Q. And how many regular events in the years ahead, next year?
FRED COUPLES: You know, I would like to play a little bit on the West Coast. But after that, unless things change here in the next six months; but the first four weeks have been a little bit scary with my golf game.

Q. But you'll play here next year?
FRED COUPLES: I would hope to, yes.

Q. If they didn't give the exemption to Ishikawa?
FRED COUPLES: He probably will deserve it more than me. But maybe I won't need the exemption. Maybe I can finish in the Top-125 one more time.
JOHN BUSH: Fred, should be fun tomorrow. Play well.

End of FastScripts

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