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November 3, 2010

Fred Couples


DAVE SENKO: Well, Fred, thanks for joining us. You should be quite familiar with our layout this year at Harding Park. You were here for the Presidents Cup, and also played in the WGC event here.
Give us a quick thought on the course. You had a chance to play this morning.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, the course is great. I'm sure you've heard that the fairways are a little rough, but the greens with absolutely perfect and the bunkers and everything else.
So I don't know whether we're playing the balls down or not. I grew up on a public course, so I can tell you it wasn't always in perfect shape. But the greens here are absolutely perfect - for 30 guys or a full field.
When I was here last time for the Presidents Cup, and I played whatever year it was where Tiger and John Daly went to a playoff and the course was incredible then. Very difficult. I don't think there were too many low scores, and I don't see many really low scores this week either.
To me, a low score would be 64, 65. There may be someone shooting that, but I think at the end of the week, if you can cruise around here, you know, 7- or 8-, or 9-under, you're going to be in great shape.
DAVE SENKO: Coming in here right now you're second in the Charles Schwab Cup. I think it's 582 points behind Bernhard. Maybe just talk about that. I believe you have to win Sunday.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I haven't really worried about it all year up this will until this week, because there are not any more weeks after this. You know, I think I'm in pretty good shape. I did not know until my friend in the back of the room told me that there is a second place annuity here, so I'm all for that. I can't lose no matter what I do.
It's been a fun year. I played with Chuck today. We talked about a few things, and I think that we're very lucky to have this tournament, this whole year, where you're trying to win $1 million.
You know, for most of the year I was in first or second. And I do have to win. To be honest, I don't know where Bernhard has to finish. There's not much to worry about. I would love to win this tournament and have him finish second and win the Charles Schwab Cup, but my goal is to win this thing.
DAVE SENKO: If you have a question, we've got some hand-helds. Please raise your hand.

Q. When you're playing the regular tour, an event such as this, the TOUR Championship, is it bigger? You've played so much golf and you've won a major. I just wonder, at your age, is this still a huge event? Do you get as excited finishing first as you ever did?
FRED COUPLES: I mean, that's a great question. If I could go back quite a few years, maybe the first year they had the TOUR championship on the regular tour - I don't know when it was - but I would say after qualifying for that seven or eight or nine years in a row, it was another tournament - and not in a bad way - but for a lot of money.
If you had a shot of being the No. 1 player in the world on the Money List, then it was a big deal. For me personally, this is my first one. At the beginning of the year, I knew I would be in this tournament health-wise, but I didn't know I would be first or second most of the year.
Now I'm way, way in second. Luckily we have double points and a big purse, but it's just -- it's such a nice event. I honestly think being here in San Francisco, I certainly know it's a great tournament in Sonoma. I don't know how long we're here for. I usually take one year at a time. Or where this tournament is next year. But I do think Harding Park is a very, very nice golf course for this event.
Personally, I don't think it's another event. It's my first year on this tour and I have a shot of winning the Schwab Cup. It's going to take a lot of luck, but that's my goal.

Q. What have you learned about the course the last couple days, and what do you think specifically of No. 18? You had a little sense of that last year. Now that you're playing, your thoughts on the course and specifically that hole.
FRED COUPLES: We've had perfect weather. Yesterday it was a little bit with the wind, and I hit a very good drive. I think I hit a 7-iron.
Today was a little bit into the wind, and I hit a good drive and I hit a 6-iron. It's a very, very good hole. I know in the Presidents Cup most everyone played it pretty well. They did a great thing and took a couple of the trees out after the World Golf Championship.
I mean, it definitely made the hole play easier, but I think it made it more fair. Certainly you have to hit a good drive and a very good second shot. That's really what a good finishing hole would be. Although the Presidents Cup had it as the 15th, and for a good reason.
For us this week, you know, it's -- wherever you stand whatever day, you have to play the 18th hole pretty well. There's nothing wrong if you make a bogey on it. You just do not want to miss a drive and come up short left. Then you're really scrambling to make whatever score you're going to make.
Overall, the course is playing really long. You know, the ball is not rolling that much. But even with this perfect weather, it's still playing pretty long.

Q. Can you draw off that Presidents Cup experience? Did you learn anything about that course that you can take into this week?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. They're all much better than anyone in this field. That's what I drew of off of that. (Laughing.)
You know, not being flippy, no, that was really fun to watch. I don't just -- I watch all sports, so if I draw off anything, you know, it would be -- you know, it was just fun to be around. Not really to watch Steve or Tiger, Stuart Cink play really well. That's got nothing to do with me.
As their captain, I felt like I did a good job, so I could tell everyone in San Francisco this week that I did a great job last year. Nothing else. It was just a lot of fun.
I think that we don't need weather like that. It was really cold and -- not really windy, just really, really cold. Even for some of those guys the course played long, and for us it would be brutal.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: I love the course.
First of all, I grew up on a public course, which is irrelevant to anything except this is a much better golf course than what I grew up on. San Francisco is a great city. I don't think -- we're going to be lucky enough in a couple years to play the Open here.
It's got a lot of great golf. I have played some golf up here, but I've only played in wow, two U.S. Opens and WGC, and would there be anything else?
DAVE SENKO: TOUR Championship.
FRED COUPLES: That's right, TOUR Championship. Played a few times in that. But, you know, for as many -- I've come up and played San Francisco in a couple things, I've played Olympic Club a few times. Usually those courses. But it's a great city.
I mean, downtown, had a lot of fun on Monday night. Went out and walked around and saw everybody screaming and yelling. It's just is great week to be here. How lucky we all are that the Giants just won the World Series and we're here.
To be honest with you, I was laughing with the amateurs. I said, If you guys would have made the choice and said I don't want to play with that guy, I want to go to the parade, I would have been right with 'em. I go back and watch highlights. I just think it's perfect.
Would have been nice if they won tonight because I had tickets for tonight. It's great. I think the town will be very electric. Like I said, I hope we get big crowds. I don't know what that is, but I hope we get some people to come out and watch.

Q. I was going to ask you, you talk about loving sports and the Giants a little bit. What were your impressions of the Giants as you watch them through the playoffs? How do you break down that team? What did you think of Lincecum?
FRED COUPLES: Well, to be perfectly honest, Joe Torry, I like Joe Torry. I like the Dodgers probably the same as San Francisco. In the middle of the year the Dodgers kind of fell apart, so then I started paying attention to maybe a wildcard for San Francisco. Then obviously the Padres really started struggling, and then it became very interesting.
As everyone here knows, they won the last game of the year to get in. But they're a well-managed, well-set up team, and they all played pretty well. I don't think -- when I watched them play Atlanta, they went through the lineup and I mean, I know a lot of players. I didn't know a lot of those guys. I thought it was very interesting.
And then three weeks later, I got a feel for most of their players. You know, it's easy to know Rentoria, it's easy to know Pat Burrell because I know Pat a little bit because he plays a little golf where I play.
The rest of the guys, just after watching them for three weeks you kind of figure out how they play, and obviously the pitching you pay attention to the whole year.

Q. What do you think of Lincecum?
FRED COUPLES: I played a little baseball until I was 15, yeah. Nobody touched him. It's amazing. You know, he beat all those guys. I think somebody got him one night, but he beat Halladay. Yeah, went UW. I didn't know that until I went up and played in Seattle and one of the guys was telling me. I saw his picture up there actually. I didn't know that.

Q. Such a hot start for you. You can't keep that going all year long, but were you a little disappointed that there was such a gap between victories for you, or did you play well enough to win and it just didn't happen?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I was disappointed there was a gap. Did I play well enough? You know, probably not. I mean, I played really, really well a couple times. Other times I was right there, but I was not playing like I was earlier in the year.
For me, even some other years where I played well on the regular tour, I just don't sustain it because I get away from golf quite a bit. When I come back, it takes me a while to come back. I'm more of a beginning-of the-year player. That's a given.
I think if you go over 30 years on tour, the first five months of my every year have been way better than the last four months. And then I do well in the silly season, because nobody cares and it's kind of fun. I've said that forever.
I would rather have played well. This year was a little bit of a learning of the schedule. I did skip a couple majors. Probably one was -- I don't want to say a mistake, but the other one worked out well, not going to the British Seniors.
And then for Portland, I wanted to maybe play, and I did really well at North Carolina, Greensboro, last year. I almost won. I thought if I went there and played well and maybe had a shot at winning, Corey might call me up and say, Hey, you might get picked. That's really why I played.
And I didn't play well, and now I know that I am done with the regular tour. Absolutely done. That I know. Absolutely.
I mean, I may play the L.A. Open, but I hear it's opposite the ACE Championship, which is going to kill me because I won here last year. But I think that's why -- I've actually paid a little attention. I mean, Jay Haas, people play a lot.
You don't have to play a lot of golf, but to win -- we're getting here because of the Schwab Cup. I'm not that -- if it was a Ryder Cup year and I was on the tour, I might play a few extra times. But if I would've won a playoff against Tom Lehman where I hooked it in the bushes and made double; you know, if I would have not made 8, would I have beaten Bernhard Langer at the US Open? He played an unbelievable last round.
Really the Hallberg thing where he shot 61, I think by not winning for a while, I kind of -- although I did birdie three holes in a row coming in, and on 18 I kind of fell asleep and made par on a pretty easy par-5 to get into a playoff.
That really was a little bit annoying. Not because he shot 61. He played an unbelievable round. But I think the way I played the 18th hole by just trying to get it on the green and I hit a little too far and I had a 90-footer and ended up chipping.
But other than that, you know, I wish I would have won another couple times. But I didn't. So I get this week and a little time off, and then next year hopefully I'll play, you know, 18 times out here. I enjoy it out here for sure. It's a lot of fun.

Q. You said the other day when we talked you were going to play a couple times on the PGA before the Masters. Is that still the plan?
FRED COUPLES: Well, they keep telling me all these places where the tournaments are. I would like to play Houston before Augusta. Obviously I went to school there and I've done it a few times. But I think it's Cap Cana. If it's Cap Cana, that's okay, too. But it may not even be Cap Cana they way he's laughing back there.
But no one knows the schedule. I've never worried about a schedule, and now I want to play a couple times on our tour and I'm all worried about it. It kind of bothers me. I don't know.
Whereas I played 29 years on the regular tour and I knew every tournament. Out here I couldn't tell you the names of the courses, the tournaments or anything. I just go to 'em and show up and play. That's the truth. I mean, I couldn't tell you the names of any of the courses. I know we're at Harding Park because we're right here.

Q. Which hole do you think will be the hardest this week, and which hole do you think players will try to take advantage of?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I would say this: The greens are small, so if you get a good yardage and you hit a good club and you hit a good shot, you're going to have a very makable birdie putt. It's a lot like when I played at Riviera. So a lot of times you play Riviera and you figure out a course.
Sometimes I would hit drive at Riviera that maybe got too close to a green where the greens were firm and you couldn't stop it. But if you come out here and play the first hole and you have a 9-iron from 135 yards and hit a good shot, you're going to have a 10-footer for birdie. Those are times where you want to make birdie.
If you come out here and start missing greens, you're going to really struggle. What holes are hard? I could name those easy. I think 18 for one; I think No. -- I played 'em backwards. No. 8 was a long par-3, 225. I just hit a 3-iron.
Then there's another hole. I got mixed up. It's way back in the corner and goes down and up the hill.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: Is it 14? I don't know, it's like 450 down and up the hill, and then the next hole is a little dog leg left. Is it 14? Yeah, 14 is a very tough hole.
You know, you watch the tournament up here. You can bogey any hole. But hardest holes will be the long par-4s. We're going to put the ball in our hands, so I hear, which will help the scoring. I don't really like that, nor do I care. I mean, it's probably best.
But I think that's going to help the scores when you can clean your ball off and play the course. But that's okay. But there aren't any -- you know, I mean, there aren't any really easy holes. 16 they might move the tee up, I heard, so you can drive, kind of like they did in the -- I think that's fun. That'll be a hole you go for.
But, again, great, great second shot. Good driving course because there's a lot of rough, but a great second shot course. I think it'll be long for all of us. I mean, obviously I hit it further than most guys out here, but it'll be a pretty long course until maybe Saturday if it keeps drying out.
Tomorrow will be a very important round, just like they all are. The greens are absolutely perfect. They're really, really good.

Q. (No microphone.)
FRED COUPLES: I did. Yeah, I played okay, which was, you know, good.

Q. Fred, if you're not No. 1 this year, you're No. 2a or No1 with a bullet or however you want to phrase it, are you more comfortable in that role now out here than you were when you were at the top, 18, 20 years ago having the role of being you know, the man?
FRED COUPLES: Um, to be honest with you, I mean, I yell at these guys all the time because I like to do my own thing. I really do. I played golf 30 years, and then you come out here and you do well and they want to go take a picture here and then you go to the media and you go do some other things. To be honest, they've been really good.
Whereas on the regular tour it happened so quickly and I was really young and didn't have any idea what I was doing. I knew I was a good golfer. I just think that I'm -- I'm a rookie on this tour, but I've done it for 30 years. Not to be rude or anything, I just like play golf and get away from the course.
So being No. 1, I would like that for nine straight years. It's not going to happen, and it's probably not going to happen this week or this year probably. But if you look at the year Bernhard had, you know, I don't know if we vote for player of the year, but I'm obviously voting for him. I'm sure all 78 guys are going to.
But, you know, next year I have another shot. You got to win majors out here. I didn't do that. I lost in a playoff in one; finished second in the other one; the other three I didn't even play. I played one round in one of 'em, so that's kind of a letdown.
But the No. 1 thing, I don't -- I'm wording this very politely -- I think it's okay. I think you want to be No. 1 on the regular tour. I think when come out here, somebody's going to be No. 1 and they're going to be the best player. That's a great thing.
I'm not backtracking. For me, I would like to win some tournaments. I mean, that's my goal. I'm not going to do this that long. I said I would like to be No. 1 for nine straight years. When I'm 59, I'll be gone. I'll be in a wheelchair probably.
I will say this: The golf out here is amazing. I will tell you, I just shot 17-under at Houston, and I think I would have been leading the regular tour by five shots. I really do. I could be kidding myself, but that's as good as I played in 30 years.
But I ended up winning, and, you know, it's only three rounds. Would have had to go on and play well in the fourth round, too. Out here you do it quickly. That's one thing. When you get on a roll, you do it pretty quickly. Everyone seems to play well in spurts.
I think the better players will play well for a year. Like Russ Cochran. You know, he went through there and was unbeatable. I played with him just after he won and shot 63 and it was like the easiest 63 ever.
So there is some great golf out here. It's just -- I think this year Bernhard has dominated, and I've won four times. I'm hoping to come out and play well again next year.
DAVE SENKO: Before we finish here, I'd like to introduce Lew Stone from the California Fire Foundation who has a presentation for Fred.
FRED COUPLES: I am going to say this real quick, that I don't know any of these guys, but I donated some money. I was on a plane, and I landed -- live in Santa Barbara, and these guys have probably gone there. Maybe not. But for like three years in a row, where I live they don't protect your house because it's up on the hill.
But I had friends up there, so I bumped into these guys and they were just coming back. They were like probably the same as people fighting wars over there. I just didn't realize. I don't know what I thought. Maybe they put fires out downtown or went to save cats and did some other things.
But I've never seen six or seven guys so beat up. So I think at the time we were here - and I don't want to put my foot in my mouth - I don't know where you guys were fighting or whatever - but I chose to give some money for that. I think I did it maybe the one year I played in the Presidents Cup, and I'll certainly do it next year, too.
That's how this all started.
LEW STONE: Fred, that donation, you don't realize how huge it is to us. The Foundations promote the entire state, and you are now one of the founding members of our endowment. The money that you gave, I don't think you -- we've got children of fallen fire fighters, and that money goes to their scholarships for college, and it goes to assist the families as they try to put their lives back together.
So the fact that we're up on a ridgeline protecting your home and the zoo and all those other places up there by your house, is what we do for a living. But for you to go past yourself and give back to the State of California is huge. We just thank you very much.
So this is a helmet. I don't think wear it while you're playing golf, but...
FRED COUPLES: Thank you. (Applause).

End of FastScripts

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