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July 1, 2010

Fred Couples


PHIL STAMBAUGH: Welcome to the 2010 Montréal Championship. You've played ten Canadian Opens, and you're now coming looking for your fourth Champions Tour title of the year. A few thoughts coming to the inaugural event and talk about the golf course a little bit.
FRED COUPLES: Well, Mr. Ronald Corey, I have known him a long time, and when he told me about the tournament, I didn't know it was on the schedule, so I'm happy to be here. I played the course yesterday. It was windy and cold and raining a couple of holes, but a very nice course and in perfect shape.
I played again today and I think this is a wonderful tournament. They are bending over backwards for all of us who are players. Today is a very special day. Today is a day where we get to play with some famous hockey players, so I'm looking forward to it.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Just talk about your year on the Champions Tour.
FRED COUPLES: My year is slowing down a little bit lately. I haven't been playing much. Just like on the regular tour, you know, I do play, and a long time ago, I played well. I played well for a long stretch of time. This year, at the beginning of the year, it was the same thing it. I worked pretty hard in the off-season to get ready for this year.
To win three times, I think it was obviously great, but surprising, but at the same time, I played really, really well, and as of today, I haven't been playing much and my game is not really all that great. But I'm very excited to be here and to start playing again. So you never know.
I played okay yesterday. But sometimes when it's blowing 40 miles an hour sometimes it's hard to try and move the ball around.

Q. You said it was surprising -- how so?
FRED COUPLES: I've seen a lot of good, good, good players come out, and maybe not win their first or second or third time. I have not won a tournament in a long time, but I think certainly the first event, losing to Watson, birdieing the last two holes, I shot 64 holes the last day and I could not have played that any better. That was a bonus for my game and I went on to win the next three times that I played.
You know, it's not shocking, but surprising that the last day, trying to get my first win, shot 61, finished a few holes ahead of me, I said it every time I went into the press room, I thought I was up by four or five shots and I looked up at the board and he was actually ahead of me. But we were tied and his name was above mine and I looked at my caddie and I said, did that flash right, the guy is 11-under par.
I have to be honest, I started to panic and I had three holes left and I birdied one of them and won there and then went to Toshiba and won and won at Cap Cana. That was surprising -- I don't know what I shot, 64 against Tom and then 62 to beat Pavin. You know, it's not like I was in the lead or near the lead and shot 67 or 68 the last round. It's just surprising that it took 62 to beat Pavin and 64 to beat Tommy Armour with the lead, and I was able to do that.
Since then, I've played okay golf. I think I birdied the last five holes at Des Moines to go wherever, to 10th or 11th. But other than that, I have not played since then. I played last week in the Canadian Skins at Victoria Island and had a great time and went on a little vacation and lost my clubs and got them back. Got them back before I flew up here. I played pretty well in Houston, which is where I went to school, and then at Augusta, I played extremely well all four rounds and finished up pretty high.
It was great but being there and playing well at that tournament -- I don't know, it might sound wrong, the highlight of the year, even winning three times. There's a lot more left this year, and I believe the only PGA TOUR tournament I'm playing is going to be the Canadian Open.
So I'll focus on maybe at least eight more Champions Tour events, which is a lot. I mean, that's 22 times this year and the most I've played since probably '82, '83, was 20 times, so I'm playing more this year than I have in 25 years, which is odd. But it's kind of a mixed year where I still wanted to play the TOUR a little bit and next year I think will be totally different. I'll focus mostly out here but I'll play a couple besides Augusta that I love playing.

Q. You say that you're a little surprised that you had to shoot so low; it must feel a little like starting over and being in a new age bracket.
FRED COUPLES: I think the bonus for me is that I never stopped playing. Some guys, maybe when they are 47 or 46 or 48 step away from the TOUR because their game is not as good or whatever it may be, and then they turn 50 and they are ready to go.
For me, I think it's very important to maybe health-wise be ready but to have a couple good two or three years in a row and then start to really slowdown and not worry about how great I can play out here, because this is my 30th year on TOUR. Have I killed myself in the tournaments I play? No. But have I practiced enough where I keep swinging and my body gets to be a little bit worn out -- but if I'm going to be the youngest guy this year like Mark Calcavecchia, I don't know if he's playing, but he's the youngest guy on the TOUR and he's never stopped playing the regular TOUR.
So he's, in my opinion, the guy to look out for every week. It's still Tom Watson, Loren Roberts, Fred Funk and Jay Haas, but it's going to come to a time when they get to be 56 or 57, and they can still win, but they are not going to win six or eight times a year. I'm speaking on, you know, past records. I just came out here.
But to get back to your question, you have to shoot very low to do well out here, that's for sure.

Q. Looking back at 2007, and especially the way the crowd was with Tiger's match, can you rate that in your career in terms of the crowd and you're not going to have any regrets when you go up to the tee, but your thoughts on Canada --
FRED COUPLES: I've only played the Canadian Open ten times, but I've probably played ten Skins Games. The other thing is I believe it's always around the British Open, and at one time in my life, the British Open was my favorite tournament besides Augusta. So I had a great record there and I chose to do some things before that.
But still, 30 years on Tour, I played here once every three years. I was no the at Royal Montreal, I watched it on TV. I just got done playing another Skins Game with Mike Weir and I know how emotional and how great the Canadians are, not just to us that come, but to their own. I was at The Presidents Cup a lot of times where you know, Mike Weir usually has the biggest gallery because we are the closest thing to an International Team.
But I grew up playing with -- I actually grew up playing in Vancouver. I grew up in Seattle and played a lot in the B.C. Amateur and B.C. Junior and a few B.C. Opens. I probably have a few junior trophies and trophies, I don't know where they are today, but I had them at one time. And I actually -- a lot of people ask me, where are a lot of great courses and I usually say Chicago and Toronto, they are back and forth. Toronto is full of great golf courses. I would love to win here, there or anywhere in Canada. I've never won up here, even though I was second at the Canadian Open or whatever year it was, probably because it's not a good date for me.
But this week I would take second the way I'm playing, even if I made a double on the last hole to lose by a shot. That doesn't sound like much, but my game, it's not very good. I enjoy golf more now than I'm going to enjoy today a lot, just seeing all of these guys. I've seen a few of them, but for me personally, and my caddie, this is going to be a fun day. I think Mr. Corey has done an incredible job with the tournament. It's only our second day here, but I can't imagine how much better it will be next year, too.

Q. I think you just said that you met Mr. Corey, when?
FRED COUPLES: Actually I played in a couple of events up here and played in a charity outing and met Mr. Corey then, I want to say there was a short season where Patrick came and visited a couple of tournaments because there was no hockey, so whenever that was, probably a year or two before then. And then I'll never forget, I was watching a game where Patrick was scoring a bunch in a Canadian jersey and he went to the bench and I think he and Mr. Corey got into a little exchange and the next day Patrick was traded. My caddie is wearing Patrick's jersey today and I think Patrick, he's at the draft of the junior league, otherwise he would be here. And Joey is wearing his jersey and I got to see him a lot of times. He took us to the Molson Centre when it was being built and just a concrete shell. My caddie has played with him a couple of times at Royal Montreal.
I saw him in Florida and he said, you know, I am running the tournament in Montréal, it would help if you are coming and I committed the next week and did not look back, in February. Now you wouldn't do that for a lot of tournaments and he's very passionate about what he's doing and he's a nervous wreck about how all of the players are doing, is your hotel okay; fine, just give us a few birdies on Friday.
But he's a very sweet man and I will play up here almost as many times as I played the Canadian Open for him, because he's just that nice of a man. He will do anything for the players. Don't get me wrong, all of the tournaments will, but I don't know a lot of them yet. I've known him for 15 or 18 years, and he just is a good man.

Q. (Inaudible.)
FRED COUPLES: I've seen him in the locker room a couple of times. I know he's a good player and wanted to play, and spent a lot of time in L.A. I guess he pushed hard to get us to play and it will be a treat just to reminisce, I'm sure Mike will have fun, too, hearing some old stories. I think he's won ten Cups, and that's amazing. It's going to be a lot of fun, believe me. The golf is going to be for me, very much secondary, I'm not going to wear him out with a story every hole but I'm sure we'll have a few things that will be fun.

Q. Are you a hockey fan?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I love hockey, big hockey fan.

Q. How is your back?
FRED COUPLES: Back feels okay. I tweaked it during, I guess it would be when I played with Jay Haas in the best-ball and I took three weeks off. I came back and it felt okay. I don't feel as good as I did two months ago, but I'm not in any pain or any problems. I just did not play and I thought a couple of weeks I would take off and I would feel much better, and I didn't. The week before the Canadian Skins, I kind of rested and went up and I played okay up there. I took another -- up until yesterday off, which is not the smartest thing to do but I'm going to try to get on a little bit of a roll here and continue to play throughout the summer.

Q. You said you lost your clubs?
FRED COUPLES: I shipped my clubs home -- which I've never, ever done and they lost them. They found them which is a good thing.

Q. Shipped from where?
FRED COUPLES: I shipped them from Napa, California.

Q. What do you like best about the Champions Tour compared to the regular PGA TOUR?
FRED COUPLES: Well, the thing I like best about this tour is I'm playing with the same guys, I haven't seen some of them in a long time, and having a great time. Mike Donald Monday qualified for this event. I haven't seen Mike and played with him -- only problem is there's no practice rounds because there's Pro-Ams, which is a great thing for the Tour. I just kind of bump into him. I've gone to dinners this year with a few guys. I've played most of the courses at least 15 or 18 times, and some of them don't change and I have my favorite courses out there.
Out here, it's a little bit different just learning the courses. The regular TOUR is very tough. I'm going to hand-pick Augusta, because I've played there maybe 25 years, and I know the course very well and I feel like if I go there and play okay, I'm going to be fine and if I play better, then I really should have a shot. This year, I really had a shot at winning.
This tournament is really all about the sponsors and I've learned that pretty quickly, and the golf is important, but not as important, be, I mean, someone is going to win every week, but it's not easier to win out here. It's just a little more friendly and I just would have fun seeing guys. Like I say, I saw Andy Edwards, I haven't seen him in ten years and I asked him about his brother and I didn't know his brother had a wrist injury and will probably never play golf again. I should know that but I don't.
But just stuff that, you know, we all live in different states, even though -- I'm trying to explain to people how most of my friends are golfers, but I've never seen them except at a golf tournament. I go to see Davis Love at his hometown once in a blue moon and I'll see Jay Haas once in a blue moon but I don't fly to Arizona to see Mark Calcavecchia, but we are still very, very good friends. It's just an odd deal out here because you're friends for one week and you take three weeks off and you don't even call them and say hi, how are you doing. You might send them a text or a call.
But that's the best thing about this tour. I know everybody on the regular TOUR, I like the young players the way they play, and the old players, Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry who is going to be 50, he'll be out here soon. Those are the guys that I'll probably be lingering on in my career and Jim Furyk will be coming out here. So it will be six or seven years before I see him again, too.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks very much.

End of FastScripts

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