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October 21, 2010

Fred Couples


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Fred Couples into the interview room. Fred, you make your first Champions Tour appearance in Houston. Obviously no stranger to the area. Your last of your 15 PGA Tour wins came over at Redstone in 2003 at the Shell Houston Open.
You finished third twice here at The Woodlands in '90 and '98. Few general thoughts about coming back to a place you are know pretty good.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I went to school here, as everyone knows. Love the area. The golf course is in beautiful shape. The weather is outstanding so far, so it's nice to be home.
I played two pro-ams. Not much of a gallery yet. I'm sure tomorrow a lot of people will come out and watch and support all the U of H guys playing, Bruce and myself, and I guess Fuzzy went there for a semester, so he's a U of H guy.
And, you know, I just skipped this tournament last year. It would have been my first Champions Tour event, but I decided not to come after the Presidents Cup because I hadn't played golf in a few weeks.
So I'm excited to be here.

Q. You had to withdraw at the last major. Maybe talk about your back a little bit.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I was, I didn't feel all that great at the SAS, and I played the next week and almost won. I actually felt okay, and then got to Avenel, and it was very cold. I just kind of stiffened up in the pro-am.
Then on Thursday I didn't play very well at all, and I just decided that I was -- on Friday I was going to fly to see this doc I've been seeing; he was in Cincinnati. I had all that planned.
I had an early tee time and it all worked out, and I just decided not to play on Friday and just go see him and spend more time with him. I didn't play any golf until yesterday. I'm tired, but I feel okay. I think just the achiness is just from being tired. My back feels pretty good.
I wouldn't say I'm rusty, because I played pretty well yesterday and today. I think when you start adding your scores and doing all that, it's not as good as you think it is. But I hit the ball well, so we'll see what happens.
And then after this I am going to play the Schwab Cup and then be done.

Q. Was there a diagnosis? Did he do some treatment on you?
FRED COUPLES: You know, it's the same old stuff. I just get to where I get crooked in my hip and pelvic area, and then my legs get out of whack. Obviously that goes up the back.
You know, he keeps pretty good track. I didn't realize I had seen him almost six months before that, which, you know, I had a couple little bad bouts there around the team championship with Jay, but I didn't go see him.
I just took a week or two off, skipped the TPC and a couple other events, and then started to feel good. This time I went to see him and he said, You missed a treatment there. You know, you just kind of get out of whack.
But, you know, as far as my back on paper or whatever, on camera or film it looks bad, but he's been able to make it feel pretty good. Just like Tom Boers did for a long time.
So I actually feel okay.

Q. What's his name?
FRED COUPLES: Dr. Thompson. He's up in Waco.

Q. I thought you said Cincinnati.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I went to see him in Cincinnati. He was there working on someone else.

Q. Oh, all right. Same doctor just different location?

Q. Does he work on Charles Barkley as well?
FRED COUPLES: He works on a few guys. Maybe two or three golfers, but also hockey and basketball and football players.

Q. Next week you're not going to San Antonio. One of the things that is going to happen next week is Oak Hills County Club, which you haven't played at for a while, but it's going to be the last year that a pro event will be held there. It's another one of those old courses that's going to kind of fall off the map. Is there any melancholy as a player when you see the old storied courses fall off in favor of some of the newer tracts out there?
FRED COUPLES: Depends. Depends on where we go. As far as a course like that, I mean, physically I'm just -- no way I could go play there. But I do like the course. I think I played several times when the old Texas Open was there.
So to answer your question, yeah, I think those are really good, fun courses. I don't know if we're losing the tournament or if they're going to another golf course.

Q. Going to another course.
FRED COUPLES: You know, that course is a lot of stress. Next year when we go there - hopefully I can go there next year - if it's not good, it'll get beat up because the other one was so good.
When you lose 'em, you know, I don't know why. I don't get too deep into this stuff. I don't know why they change. If it's a better place, maybe better for the last few holes. I know at that course 9 and 18 are par-3s, and they're very good par-3s. It's kind of a tough finishing hole. Maybe they don't want a par-3 as a finishing hole. I don't really know. Or maybe it's the golf course, their members don't want it.
But it is a nice course, that's for sure. It's very playable and very fun and challenging. You see a lot birdies but you see a lot of holes where you walk off where you make a bogey and you kind of shake your head. Those are tricky, tough courses.

Q. Talk about being back in Houston and a little bit about the course itself.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I'll start with the course. The course is in absolutely perfect shape. The greens are beautiful. Fairways are like this tabletop. It's dry and, yeah, pretty fast. I'm not going to say that by Sunday it'll be playing quicker and tough, but it's great spot for me.
I love -- you know, this is where I really learned to become a much better player, U of H. Got lucky enough to win in 2003 at Redstone, which of always a goal of anyone that went to school at Houston.
It's nice to be back. To be honest with you, I hear they get great galleries here, and I can't wait to come out tomorrow and play and hopefully play well.

Q. What are your expectations? I know you're always out to win.
FRED COUPLES: Right. Well, realistically, you know, like I said, the last time I played was on Thursday, and I didn't play very well in Avenel. Before that I was doing okay.
And so yesterday, you know, I had my teacher out here. He caddied for me. I paid a lot of attention to what I was doing and hit a lot of birdies, but hit a few balls that were not very good.
Today I didn't make as many birdies, but I hit the ball much better. You know, I'm working on a couple things that maybe I can do that my back can kind of take the pressure. I know Paul came out in Seattle, not for the Open but for the next week, and I started to hit the ball much, much better.
We kind of figured out that by going the way I used to swing 10 years ago, I won't last very long. I was feeling fairly really. It's got nothing to do with that. I would much rather hit the ball better and maybe a month later not feel good. But that's the way it went.
I still don't know if that's how it happened, by changing my swing a little bit going through the ball, but realistically my goals are to go out and play well. I did not do it last time I played and it wasn't much fun, but this is totally different. I do like this course.
You know, every round is a big round. For me to take nine days off is not unusual, but it is when I don't feel good. Each time I want to go hit balls I go out and I just can't even hit 'em. So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Q. If it wasn't Houston, would you be playing this week, do you think?
FRED COUPLES: You know, I mean, the easy way would be to say no. I probably would still play, but this is -- you know, I did skip it last year. I did not want to have my first Champions Tour event with almost a month off. That would have been stupid to come here and just play. Who knows what I would have shot. I could have finished first; could have finished 51st.
But I will never, as long as I'm moving around, I won't skip it again. I just didn't feel like paying that close of attention. I know Corey Pavin did it. He went and played at Avenel. I know Tom Lehman did not. I don't know why.
It's a lot work. You just kind of -- even if you're not playing, you just thaw out after it. I just wasn't ready to come here and play.
But this year I think I'll be fine. But I do like the course. It is really - I'll say it again: It is in unbelievable shape. I don't know if the rest of 'em around this town are, but this one is in beautiful shape.

Q. You've some wins and you've had close calls. Langer has taken off with five wins. How did you put your year in perspective right now?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think it's been good. I mean, any time you win, I felt like starting out I would win a tournament or two out here. I didn't know how much I would play.
Then once I won those three I picked up a couple more, and I played and I haven't won one in a long time. I did lose the PGA in a playoff, and then I semi-battled Bernhard after I tripled the second hole at the Open and lost Gary Hallberg the last time I really played besides the last major.
But, you know, highlight was playing in Seattle in the Open. That was first. There were so many people up there. That made the whole year. You know, obviously winning would have been unbelievable. And then the second a month or three weeks later, to go back to Seattle and play again was, you know, a great time. I did not win up there either, but I had a great time.
Since then it's been a little bit slow. Haven't paid as much attention to my game. You know, you got to do that. But I do that in spurts. I've done it my whole life. I just can't really grind for nine straight months. I didn't do it 25 years ago, and I certainly can't do it at age 51.
I kind of take things in stride. I wish I would have won at least one more, but I haven't. So I got this week and the Schwab to try and win one more time.

Q. Was it fun to watch Rocco last week?
FRED COUPLES: It was a lot of fun, yeah. I was texting a buddy of mine and a good friend of his, a young kid. Our texting was hilarious. I could have gotten on the phone and called him, but it wouldn't have been the same. We were laughing at him, we were laughing with him. I think he was more really worried about it.
I mean, I love Rocco to death. At one time it maybe looked like he wasn't going to win. When he holed that shot and then all hell broke loose, I think that was great for golf. Meaning not like we needed Rocco to win, just great to see a guy do that. He holed a shot every day, which I don't know if that's ever been done.
You know, for a lot of people it was just another win on the PGA Tour. But for a lot of players to see a guy that age win is a great time. He was four ahead, and then he started to make some bogeys. Then I think he made a great birdie somewhere before he holed that shot. He birdied 16, yeah.
So, you know, the whole thing was weird. I didn't even catch on when he had that kid mark his ball on 17. He drove it up there this far behind the hole, and then he holed his shot. It just was fun to see. Really was.
THE MODERATOR: Fred, good luck this week.
FRED COUPLES: All right. We'll see you tomorrow.

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