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May 28, 2010

Fred Couples


KELLY ELBIN: Fred Couples, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 4-under par 68 in the second round of the 71st Senior PGA Championship. Fred is at 7-under par, 137, one shot ahead of Tom Kite halfway through the championship. Fred, comments on the round today and being in first place midway through.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I'm happy to be in first place. I played great today. I had a lot of birdies and a couple bogeys, three bogeys in there. But putted very well.
I thought the wind was very difficult and I don't know what it's going to be like the next couple days, but the more under you can get, the better off, because you're going to have some stretches out there where you're going to make some bogeys.
So I'm 7-under, one ahead of Tom, and maybe, I don't know what third place is, 5-under? So I'm not really worried about a lead, I'm just wanting to go out tomorrow and keep playing well and see what happens and then worry about a lead on Sunday on the back nine. If I have one.
KELLY ELBIN: Speaking of stretches you had birdies at 6, 7 and 8, could you just go through the distances there or the club rather and the putts on 6, 7, and 8.
FRED COUPLES: Actually on 6 I hit a 6-iron. Hit Bernhard's ball. It probably would have rolled 35 feet past the hole. But it hit his ball and stopped. I think we were 12 or 15 feet. And I made the birdie there.
Next hole, par-5, I hit it, like everyone else, over the green and chose a putter from off the green and hit a poor putt, probably 20 feet past the hole and made it.
Number 8, I hit 3-wood into the front bunker, which was in a great spot, the pin was tucked over where I was and I hit it out to about six feet and made it.
Bogeyed 11. Missed the green down by the water, actually, and got it up on the green and missed it.
Then birdied the shorter 14th.
Hit two really good shots on 15 through the green and from a long way away 3-putted.
But then made a good birdie at 16.
And then I hit it in the shrubs on 18 and took an unplayable and got it up on the green and 2-putted for bogey.
KELLY ELBIN: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. You look at the leaderboard, yourself, Tom Kite, Lehman, Bernhard, does it kind of seem like the old days when you look back in the early '90s and late '80s? Does it look like that?
FRED COUPLES: Well, this course gets you ready to play, otherwise you're going to struggle out there. They're all great prayers. This Champions Tour is full of them. I've played, I think this is my sixth tournament, maybe my seventh. Every week something happens where guys shoot extremely low. And this is a very tough course.
So for Tom Kite, Lehman, Langer, even Fred Funk birdied the last three holes to get to 2-under, not too many surprises, although tomorrow there may be some guys come out early and shoot 67 or 68 and move themselves right back up there.
But it's a great leaderboard, that's for sure. A lot of good players.
KELLY ELBIN: This is Fred's seventh event on the Champions Tour so far this year.

Q. How significant was the wind this afternoon? A lot of guys that played earlier said it was pretty much nonexistent out there, but as you said it was tough.
FRED COUPLES: No, as soon as I walked on the range it started blowing. Nothing like they were predicting. I had thought they were talking about 30 mile an hour winds, but it's been the same. Yesterday it blew, all day, I think, today it was calmer in the morning or it seemed like it, I wasn't out here, but it blew pretty much from the first hole on.
Up until the last hole, for two days I've driven the ball pretty well. And that's been a key. If I can drive it down these fairways and hit it solid and have less clubs into most of these greens, I'm going to be better off than most and I'm certainly going to be better off for myself.
But the wind was tough. It's a very hard course, I've putted really well for two days to make a lot of birdies. That's the reason I'm 7-under.

Q. How important have the par-5s been and the short par-4s, seems like you've really taken advantage of those and are those places where you think I need to score here?
FRED COUPLES: Well I think those are places you have to score. I know I birdied the first hole both days. I birdied 7 both days. I birdied 8 both days. And then the other short hole, I don't know what it is, 13? 14. I birdied both days.
So if you go back, that's the whole round. I'm going to make some bogeys on holes, like I think the fourth hole is the hardest hole on the course, 12 and 13 are, I don't know, there's some holes in the wind back there, I might be getting them mixed up. Maybe the 12th hole is the hole I'm thinking of. And on the front it's 4 and 5.
So you're going to bogey those holes. So you got to birdie some of the other ones. And on the short holes I've hit great drives right in front of the greens. The one hole I drove the green yesterday and was right in the front bunker today and got it up-and-down.
So that seems to be all the under par I am. I did bogey a par-5 the first day. The 15th. But I'm a lot under par on the easier holes. If they're easy.

Q. How is your back feeling?
FRED COUPLES: I feel okay. I feel okay. Today was a good tee time. 2:15, it just was really a long day. I don't know, I know it's hard, I know the wind's blowing, but however long it took us, it seemed look we were out there for a day.
But I feel all right. I'm ready to go back and relax and get ready for tomorrow. They're great tee times. I think I'll play around quarter to 11 or 11 o'clock. Depending upon the cut. So that's good. You don't have to sit around all day and worry about the wind and the course and anything. Just come and get up, get out here and get going.
KELLY ELBIN: You played the front side in 7-under par, you played the back nine even par. What do you read in that, is it an easier nine for you?
FRED COUPLES: Well, so far it is. No, just like the gentleman over here, I'm 6-under on three holes. That's the whole front nine. I haven't hit too many poor irons.
The back nine, a couple. I got, I made a great up-and-down today on 12. I made about a 12 or 15-footer for par. But no rhyme or reason. The back nine's probably harder, I think, for me.

Q. These greens are fast, but they're not lightning. Most of the greens on the Champions Tour are similar to this, fast but not over the edge. Is that something that's clicked with you and the belly putter? Just a nice speed that you can give it a go? Has that been part of the reason for the success this year?
FRED COUPLES: Well, these greens weren't -- the mowers have probably been raised a little bit because of the wind. There's some undulation out there too that is, if they got these things any quicker with the wind, we would still be out there.
As far as me putting, I've putted very well this year. I think it's confidence in being in the positions that you're in. And I'm in the same spot tomorrow, I could come out and not putt as well and I'll have to rely on hitting it much better to hang in there.
But the times that I've won and played out here, I've putted really really well. I have no idea why. The greens are, they were pretty fast at Naples; and Toshiba they were fairly quick and a little bumpy, because they're poa annua.
These are great greens. They're perfect. The speed is lower, there's no doubt. But I made a lot of eight and 10 foot par putts and a lot of birdie putts.

Q. Can you just talk about the birdie on 16. Pretty much there in two right on the fringe and it looked like you kind of got a little chuckle out of the line that you had for that third putt with your back kind of to the hole. Can you talk about 2-putting from there.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, no, well, you know, I haven't played here a whole bunch. So I didn't really know the pin, but I knew that I hit it left of the green up there and let it trickle down and I was kind of surprised where it stopped. And then I just thought the further left I went, the closer to the hole it would roll down, where Fred and Bernhard where there was no way to stop it.
So I hit a great putt to get it eight feet from the hole and to keep it on that top plateau. And then as I went down the next fairway I looked back and Larry Nelson's ball stopped the same spot mine did, so maybe it wasn't such a horrible break. But I hit a great, it looked like a great shot there. It wouldn't have mattered, I was trying to get it in the middle of the green, I was not trying to hit to know that little plateau.
But that was a good 2-putt. Especially since the hole before that I hit two great shots right over the top of the flag and a yard over the green and 3-putted from a long way. But to not birdie 16 would have been, I think giving away shots, which you can't do.

Q. You said that it's a difficult course. You played well on it. Do you think that, do you like the course, do you think everybody shares that opinion that you do?
FRED COUPLES: Do I think everyone shares that opinion?

Q. That it's a great course.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I think. I played -- I haven't -- I played a practice round with two other guys and we had a good time and I played the last two days with Fred and Bernhard. We all played well.
It's a hard course. When you're playing in 20, 30 mile an hour winds, and you're trying to judge shots, it's not too easy to do. But I think it's a very good layout. It's hard and it's long. If it's long for me, I'm sure it's long for a lot of other people.
But it's a good test. It is my first Major, so I don't know if this is as hard as they're going to get or this is normal, but I can tell you this course is hard. I don't know if people are liking it or not, that's their own opinion, but as far as hard, it's a 10.
KELLY ELBIN: Fred Couples, thank you very much.
FRED COUPLES: All right. Thanks.

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