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April 22, 2010

Chris Couch


DOUG MILNE: 2006 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion. Thank you for joining us for a few minutes. Clean card today, 5 under 67 today. You've got to be feeling good, especially given that you're really having a good year. So just some comments on the state of your game and your 67 today.
CHRIS COUCH: My game's been pretty consistent all year. My goal this week is to hit more greens. I think I hit 15 greens today. So I was putting the ball well. I happened to roll in a couple of long ones today, so that helps you get on to a good streak there.

Q. Talk about your physical ailments, you know, things you've had to overcome?
CHRIS COUCH: I had arthroscopic surgery in 2008, January of 2008. Was supposed to be playing about three or four months later and didn't work out that way. I've had to deal with a lot of therapy and a lot of mental toughness trying to stay tough mentally, you know, sitting around, gaining some weight isn't always the funnest thing to do when you're an athlete.
So I took two years of not playing much. But I've kept myself good mentally, I think. I think that, as I said before, I think God has a path for me, and I'm following that path. And I think I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Q. You mentioned the same topic at Bay Hill. The injury caused you to kind of change your game from hitting a draw to hitting a fade. What's it like to come back to play this tournament where you won, and you're kind of playing a different game now? Does the course seem a lot different?
CHRIS COUCH: Well, luckily this is a different golf course (laughing). I don't know. My coach has told me for years that you can work with a fade, but you can't work with a hook, you know. And I've kind of found that this year.
I'm controlling the ball better, I'm driving the ball more consistently on the fairway. I'm not hitting it quite as long, but I still have plenty of distance to attack a lot of holes.

Q. You still hit that now?
CHRIS COUCH: I definitely seize it now. Now when I have a draw, I definitely have trouble doing that.

Q. How did your weight fluctuate when you were having those problems?
CHRIS COUCH: I went from about 220, in good shape. I was working out a lot. 220 to about 260, not working out a lot, so picture that (smiling).

Q. Did you play much at 260?
CHRIS COUCH: Well, I practiced when I could. I still can't practice quite as hard as I used to. That's something that I'm just going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, I think.
But you know, I've worked harder on my short game which is probably what I needed to do, and it's showing. My short game's been a lot better this year. So I usually only hit balls for about a half an hour to an hour.

Q. Your long birdies today, where were they and how long?
CHRIS COUCH: I made a long putt on number 6. I kind of got it started. I made about a 40-footer there, maybe 35, 40 feet. Does it say on there?
DOUG MILNE: 36.10.
CHRIS COUCH: I made a nice long one on 8 on the back fringe that kind of thinned the wedge to the back fringe and made about a 30-footer there. And then 10, I made about a 20-footer.
When those putts start going in and the short ones look a lot easier, so you can be a little more aggressive. I hit a lot of good putts today. I had some good putts coming in that I thought I made, and it just went right over the edge.

Q. You had a pretty long apprenticeship on the Nationwide Tour. Was that part of the game that kind of held you back or kept you from getting out here? How would you compare your game now to those early days?
CHRIS COUCH: I think mainly mentally I wasn't ready to be out here. Because my game was definitely ready. I mean, I finished fourth on the money list in 2004. Came out here -- or 2003 -- came out here in 2004, did nothing. In 2005, I went back and finished third on the money list. Came back here in 2006, and finally, finally broke through.
But I think it's just a mental thing being between the Nationwide Tour and here, and just getting used to being on TV all the time and being around the crowd. Not hearing so much what people are saying, and just keeping yourself focused. I've learned to do that as I've gotten over.

Q. Parts of your game better now? Specific parts than they were then? Are you a better putterer now or Chipper?
CHRIS COUCH: I'm a much better bunker player, much better chipper, and a better putter. I think overall my game is better except for my iron play. I used to be an excellent iron player. Now I consider myself mediocre with the irons. But I make up with it in the short game.

Q. What did it mean to win here?
CHRIS COUCH: When I won here? Well, definitely it's always my goal is to win on the PGA TOUR since I was ten years old, putting on on the putting green saying this putt's to win the Masters or this putt's to win so and so.
But definitely boosted my confidence. Showed me I could do it. I could win out here. I did it on the Nationwide Tour five times. I knew I had to the capability of doing it out here. I just have never broken through until 2006?
I'll never forget it. That was the greatest chip of my life. I'd probably make that 1 out of 50 times. 1 out of 40. And it just happened to be right at the right moment. God couldn't have planned it better for me.
I was questioning what was going on when I hit it over the green and had really no shot. I was thinking to myself, man, things are just falling apart. But when that chip went in, it couldn't have been a better ending.

Q. It was over the green?
CHRIS COUCH: I was over the green on the down slope of the bunker, and then had to hit it into the hill.

Q. What have these struggles told you about yourself and your ability to come back? What have you learned the last couple of years?
CHRIS COUCH: I think I've mainly just trusted in God over the last couple years. I mean, it's easy to lose your faith when things are going bad and when things are going good. I just kept praying that I was going down the right path.
It didn't matter to me if last year or this year if I never played again, because I figured I could teach. I could do something in this game for good. I've just kind of had that attitude, and I'm happy to be out here every week I'm out here. I know any week from the past injury, I know that any week can be another injury.
So I'm trying to keep myself healthy. Trying not to -- I used to lift a lot of weights. I've stayed away from that, trying to keep my body in good shape.

Q. You had said that you probably are 80% and probably won't get any better. I'm wondering what that does to your psyche as you go into a tournament knowing that some guys are playing at 100 and you're only playing at 8?
CHRIS COUCH: Well, there are certain shots I can't hit without pain. When the wind picks up, you know, it's tough for me because I used to have a nice punch shot I hit, and I'd get a little steeper when I do that and the back foot punch. I don't have that shot anymore because it puts too much strain on my shoulder.
So I guess I just have to work with what I have. What I have is pretty good, so I just try not to do too much and just let it happen.

Q. You had a frozen shoulder?
CHRIS COUCH: Yeah, I had a frozen shoulder in 2007. Late April, May of 2007. The best way to explain it is I couldn't move my arm at all, not even an inch. It was just on my side here. It was almost like being crippled.
I dealt with that for about five months off and on, you know. It would start feeling better after a couple weeks and then I'd do a funny movement and it would freeze again on me. Then it would be a couple more weeks where I had to gradually move it, extreme pain.

Q. You've got to win so much money now to keep your card. How does that work?
CHRIS COUCH: I'm trying not to think about it. I know what I need to make, but I'm trying not to think about it. I take one week at a time, and I figure if I'm playing well, the money's going to be there at the end of the year.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind just running us through your birdies and give us your clubs the best you recall.
CHRIS COUCH: Number 1, I had 151, hit a 9-iron to about 12 feet.
6, I had 188. Hit a 6-iron to 36 feet.
Number 8, I kind of thinned a sand wedge to about 30 feet and made that.
10, I hit a wedge in there about 18 or 20 feet and made that.
And 11, I almost hit the green in two, and hit the shoulder of the green and chipped it up to a foot.

End of FastScripts

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