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April 22, 2010
DAVE SENKO: Fred, thanks for joining us. Let's get started just really quick. We had Jay in here earlier, and he talked about how you guys hooked up, but maybe you could just fill us in a little bit more on what transpired there last year.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I don't know the exact time -- I think it might have been the Presidents Cup -- he asked me if I was going to play, and I said sure, and so that's basically how it transpired. Not much more.
I'm excited to be here. I love Jay to death, and we're going to have a great time. He's fun to play with on the course, and his caddie and my caddie are very good friends, so I think there will be a lot of laughing.
DAVE SENKO: Have you guys hit, played before, the Ryder Cup?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I think we played in alternate shot, though, and I drove them in the rough all day. It wasn't much fun for him.
But tomorrow will be different. You have to make a lot of birdies. There's a lot of very, very good teams, and my first time playing the course. You know, I don't have any idea. I was looking in here what they shoot, how many under or whatever, but if he and I do fine, we should have a shot at winning, so it doesn't matter what everyone is shooting. We should do all right.
DAVE SENKO: Again, we have the mics, we'll get some questions here. Just put your hand up.
Q. Great start to your season here on the Champions Tour. What's been the secret of success? You just gotta be feeling it at all levels. Here you are, no different I guess on this tour. Just playing good golf.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I've answered this question almost every week. I've been driving it very well and putting very well for me, and those are -- for, you know, any of these guys on this piece of paper, if you putt well, you're going to shoot lower scores, and if you're going to be in the hunt and you play well on a Sunday, you probably have a good shot at winning, and that's pretty much what I've done.
Last week I didn't play so well the first day, but I had a very good round the second day. And you know, I was hoping to play on Sunday to see if I could move up some. But it was just too wet out there. But as far as the other weeks, I made a lot of putts. That's basically it, drove it very well, kept it in play and then birdied a lot of the par-5s and made a lot of nice par putts to stay ahead when I was leading.
Q. And you got the target on your back this week. All these guys are coming in here talking about the way you're playing and how they gotta watch out for you. What's it like knowing week in and week out now that you're on the Champions Tour when you do play you have that target on your back?
FRED COUPLES: I have a partner this week, so the target's a little smaller on my back, and it's on his, too.
You know, I mean it's great. I mean I expected to do well. I didn't really think I would win three tournaments out of the first four and now five. But I knew, you know, for the last few years I played very well, and I was looking forward to playing some on the Champions Tour, and I decided to play a little more than I was going to from the beginning of the year.
But also I put in Quail Hollow next week to play because I feel like I want to see if I can play with the younger guys, but not that much. I mean if I play a little more this year, great, but next year will strictly be on the Champions Tour.
As far as this target thing, you know, somebody's -- every time someone comes out and they do well, there's always that guy. I mean Bernhard Langer, I don't know if this is his third year, but he's won a lot. John Cook has played very, very well. And when I played with Tom Watson at Haulalai, it was amazing. It was a lot of fun, and watched him shoot 30 on the Back 9. So there's 40 guys on this tour that can really, really play. At this time I feel like I should be one of them because I'm the youngest guy, and I pretty much came right off the PGA TOUR out here.
Q. Your partner was laughing earlier today when he was looking at the cover of "Golf World" or "Golf Week," "Freddy Fever." I wondered if you had a chance to see that, and how does that make you feel?
FRED COUPLES: One of the Tour guys brought it out. It was kind of all about the Champions Tour. I don't know if I deserved to be on the cover, but I was. In another month or so, I'll be pretty much all about this Tour. So I respect this Tour. I like the Tour. I like all the guys on it. I will say last week at the Outback there were a lot of people out there on Saturday. It was a great, great showing for fans to come out, and they had a good leaderboard, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But that's what I like to see.
Toshiba there were a lot of people. So you know, this Tour is a very good Tour, and I'm going to be a big part of it for hopefully three or four years. That's about all I can handle is another three or four years of this golf.
Q. Fred, you played pretty well at Augusta two of the last three years and that's a course you've got a real good comfort level on. You're coming up on another one at The Players Championship. Of course you've had some great success there. What is it about that course that you felt most comfortable in playing out there? It was only a couple of years ago you tied for 15th. You had a good week that year.
FRED COUPLES: At the TPC?
FRED COUPLES: Mostly it's course knowledge. I feel like, you know, I play these courses a lot, and when the wind blows and it's a little tougher, you know, I feel like I have a little bit of an advantage if I play well, because you know, I play the hole left-to-right downwind or right-to-left downwind. And you know, some of the other guys maybe haven't -- even though they've played 20 or 30 rounds and been on Tour eight to ten years, you know, you get out there one day and you start playing these courses in a different direction, you still have to hit the ball well. But I think if I am swinging good, you know, there's a lot of places I can still do well.
I don't do it as often, but I knew Augusta would be a great week for me if I got off to a great start, and I did. I was leading after the first day, and I struggled the second nine on the last really five holes on Friday, which kind of killed me, but then I played well on Saturday and Sunday. And the TPC, even Quail Hollow I played well, so that's why I really committed to go there.
Quail Hollow was a tournament where if I didn't really do well, I would never have committed for it. But I just feel like -- I may be tired. I'm actually killing myself by playing, but my back feels okay, so I'm going to try and push this a little longer, and I didn't do anything Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday before I came here. I played a little golf in Orlando, but it was very relaxing. And after this event playing with Jay, I'll get a few days off, but I just think it's comfort on these courses. It's my 30th year on the Tour. I know these courses pretty well.
Q. I want to ask you about two moments, Players Championship, '96, 16, 17, those two shots, the eagle on 16, and then on 17. Do you think you got away with something on 16 when you saw that shot clear the water, and then 17, obviously anything on dry land is pretty good, and you hit it better than that.
FRED COUPLES: On 16, you know, I was trying to cut a 2-iron in there and I over-cut it. And yeah, I didn't think it was automatic that was going to be in the water, but it kind of hit and took that bounce and got on the fringe, and I was 20 feet away, very lucky.
And then on 17 I believe after I made that putt, I knew I had a couple-shot lead, and I just tried to hit it up on the middle of the green and made a 30-foot bomb to go for the birdie there. But yeah, I think when you're leading, even though I was in the last group, you just want to get it somewhere on that green. You don't want to be hitting it in the water and trying to get your next one on land and making a triple or whatever. But you know, it was a good day. I shot 64, and I didn't miss many shots and played very well.
Q. And there have only been six holes-in-one on 17 on that course during competition, and you've got one of them and you've got like a semi hole-in-one, the hole-in-three. Are you surprised there haven't been more holes-in-one on that hole given how many years that tournament's been there and how good you guys can be?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I think that's surprising. If you asked a bunch of players, I know they'd probably say more than that.
You know, I don't know where most of the hole-in-ones are made. They gotta be made either on that front left or the front right, even though it's a tough shot to the right if you hit it -- it's going to kind of scare the hole, and yeah, it's a little surprising.
Q. And then just one more. Is it kind of odd that people remember the one you made for three a little bit more than the one you made for a one?
FRED COUPLES: You know, oddly enough, I was -- I want to get this right, 7-over standing on that tee, and then I hit it in the water and then holed it, and I think I finished fourth. I think I played very early on Sunday and shot a really good score, and that was the year I think Duval won where no one could hold any of the greens.
But yeah, if I don't make that shot, make a double, I think I shoot 80, 81, probably miss the cut. Three days later I was in fourth place. So I remember it. You know, it was just kind of a shot where I hit it in the water, and I don't really know how hard I was trying on my third shot, but it flew in the hole. And I didn't even go to the green to get the ball. I think I let Joe go up there and get it. It was a hard day. I had had enough.
Q. They kept you in the clubhouse a little bit that Sunday, didn't they, when you finished?
FRED COUPLES: You know, I stayed up there in the Champions Lounge and hung out, yeah. No, it was a brutal -- I don't think I was very close, but you know, I don't know what Duval finished.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I don't think I was -- but I don't know what I shot, to be honest with you.
Q. Fred, I think if you play Charlotte next week and then Jacksonville, does that make seven?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah.
Q. And I can't remember you ever playing seven.
FRED COUPLES: No.
Q. I think the most is four in 20 years.
DAVE SENKO: I looked it up. I think you played seven in a row in '92.
FRED COUPLES: There you go.
Q. It was 100 years ago. Is it your new man in Waco suggesting and urging maybe that you should play some more?
FRED COUPLES: He texted me the other day and said keep on playing but be careful. I'm probably going to pop in and see him, I'm hoping, when I'm done, but not before because if I have to see him before, I'll be done.
You know, I will be honest. I feel pretty good. I just feel like my swing's getting a little sloppy from playing so much. I was telling Joe today, the Back 9 I was going to try and hit a few shots and I did okay, I didn't putt very well. But you walk around, you just get to where you're going, my God, I need to go home and get some rest and get away from it.
But to be honest with you, I think as long as I'm healthy, the guy in Waco wants me to play. He wants me to keep swinging. He thinks the opposite, if I go home for two weeks and don't do a lot, my back actually tightens up. So I'm on a little pace where I at least go hit 20 balls when I'm at home, and it's not even practice. It's just to go swing. And so I checked in on him, and he's okay with it. He may not be come Sunday at Wachovia.
Q. Your footwear has become a bit of a phenomenon out here, and maybe that's just something that golfers think anything I can do to take a few shots off my game. What do you make of the whole craze over them?
FRED COUPLES: Well, to be honest with you, I got them in November, and I mean I live in Palm Springs, which is just like here. I mean obviously when it rains anywhere, it's wet, but I started playing in them, and I really thought they were extremely comfortable and a lot of times I try new shoes and it's hard for me to get to my left side and roll over as you want to swing through the ball. These were easy.
I wear tennis shoes every day because of my back. I very rarely have dress shoes on. So I tried these out and I went to a Haulalai and all hell broke loose, I think basically because of the color of the bottom. I think if they were white, I think they would pass for a little bit more of a normal shoe, but the brown ones have orange soles and the black ones have red.
I think they're very, very comfortable, and at the end of the day my body feels a little bit better in them because it's just a tennis shoe fit and they're very soft and comfortable.
They're backordered. I don't know when they're coming out. Everyone tells me June or July. As far as for me, I'm not any trendsetter. I just have worn them and really like them. They're very comfortable.
Q. When you played Saturday after the rain in Augusta and then you went back to the regular shoe, did that feel a little weird after playing in the tennis shoes?
FRED COUPLES: No. They don't feel any different. I wore them Friday because I played in the morning. My other Ecco shoes, and of course, I got honestly 50 calls, "put your goddamn other shoes on" on Saturday, I swear. And I thought, oh, my God. This is getting out of hand. I'm walking on every fairway and everyone -- they don't even know what I'm shooting. It's "where do you get those shoes?" "Are there any other colors?" "Are they really comfortable?" "Do you get blisters?" "You don't wear socks?"
I'm like ready to explode. And then I get all these texts, I wore them -- obviously I had late tee times, but I wore them on Saturday and Sunday, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out if it's really wet, I probably won't wear them.
But again, I go home. I didn't go to my locker. I just put these on. I go from the car to the range, and I know it's all kind of fun, but it saves a little time, and I don't have to go worry about changing shoes or putting on socks, but they're just comfortable. They're good shoes.
Q. Fred, you've seen the course now. Obviously you're looking at scores. Low 60s are not unheard of in this tournament here. Having seen the course now, what do you --
FRED COUPLES: There's a lot of rough. I'm sure rough's been the talk of the town. I didn't drive it in any fairway bunkers, but there is some rough out there, and it's a good course. The greens are pretty fast, very fast actually when you're down grain.
And I couldn't tell you -- obviously in the best ball you gotta figure if you're shooting 8-under, you're going to be okay, you need to probably shoot probably lower than that every day. But you know, I only had one practice round. I don't know, a lot of the pins I'll rely on Jay to maybe say, hey, you can go for this pin, but you don't want to go long right or something.
My caddy's done a good job, too. But that's the hardest thing. Like I said five minutes ago, I know these courses like the back of my hand, and then I go play the TPC last week in Tampa, and three or four times I look like I hit really good shots and they trickle over greens and they go like down there and you're shooting back up, and I made bogey the first day three or four times by not really hitting bad shots. So there is a comfort level of knowing that, you know, hit an 8-iron 30 feet short, don't get cute with a 7 and go over these greens.
It's kind of the same here. They're kind of rounded. It's a good driving course, and you know, I think it's a nice layout. It's in great shape.
DAVE SENKO: Let's get a couple more questions and we'll wrap it up here.
Q. One more Players question and I'll lay off. '96 when you win it for the second time, did that mean more to you than the first time in any way?
FRED COUPLES: I don't know how to answer that.
Q. You were the first two-time winner in the Stadium course also.
FRED COUPLES: Oh, is that right?
Q. You beat Elkington by a year.
FRED COUPLES: You know, I mean it's such a great event. The first year when I won, I was very young and I beat Trevino, Lanny Wadkins and Jim Thorpe were all playing on Sunday. There may have been another guy or two. That was pretty exciting, I mean to win that and I think get a ten-year exemption, so my life even as a young guy, good player, I figured I was set for a long time.
And then winning in '96, you know, was -- it was a great Sunday. I mean I was in good shape, but I shot 64 and I played really, really well, but I don't know, it was 12 years later. Probably -- I don't know how to even answer that. They're so long ago now it's kind of irrelevant.
Q. That was a good leaderboard, too. Lanny was there, David Duval.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. And Nolan Henke was up there fighting it out and I was playing with Scott Gump, and I'll never forget that. He played very, very well. I just was pouring in putts right and left, and when I made that one on 16 and 17, he gave me this look on 17 like, are you kidding me?
But you know, it's 14 years ago. Correct? I don't know. I hope to play -- my goal is, you know, to go there and play well. It's a pretty demanding course. You know, I don't know when I finished 15th, how many years ago, but I struggled a lot of times in the last five or six years.
DAVE SENKO: You guys okay? All right. Thanks.
End of FastScripts