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April 8, 2011

Fred Couples


TOM NELSON: Let me welcome 1992 Masters Champion Fred Couples to the interview room. Fred, phenomenal round today, 4-under par 68. I'm sure everyone is eager to ask you about the round, so let me open it up to any questions.

Q. We all know your back is not always in great shape, and it's hard for you to play four rounds of golf, but how was it today, and are you surprised that it held up and what is it looking like for the weekend?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I feel good enough to play. You know, I took some shots last week at Houston and they were supposed to start to take effect maybe Saturday or Sunday there. It was kind of so-so.
You know, I'm swinging. Since October, it's been pretty much a toothache, which is unnormal for me. It hasn't changed much. But I feel loose. It's just every now and then, you know, some of these shots I hit today with these downhill lies, on No. 7 and 9 and 10. I have to be honest, is when I make contact and looked where they were going, it was, big smile, because those were the three best shots hit all day and that's the biggest problem, is when I have a downhill lie.
But those were key shots. I did birdie 7, and on9 had a close putt for birdie and on 10 I hit a great shot. That's what I have to do. Those are why the rounds keep going. I would like to say it's easy to hit these shots, but again, I got it around for two days. I made a few birdies today, which I didn't yesterday. And I'm in a great spot to come out tomorrow. I'll have no problem playing Saturday and Sunday.
Just it's very awkward to play golf when it's more painful. I've had a bad back for a long time, but the pain is not a whole lot of fun.

Q. You said yesterday with your back that it's kind of hard for you going around this course and hit shot after shot after shot; how did you plod your way around today and how did it result in a 68?
FRED COUPLES: Yesterday I hit the ball very solid and today I hit it just a little bit better. I would say playing four or three hours earlier in the morning, the course was -- I hate to use the word, a little easier than playing at two o'clock or one o'clock.
Here, I would be playing even as a cripple, I love this place. (Laughter) I shouldn't say that; as a guy with a horrible back, I would get it around. I did it a couple of years and I just love playing here. To be honest with you, I feel like as long as I have -- at Houston and here, I'll finish. At Houston, I shot four fairly consistent rounds, which meant nothing, except to me, and I knew that I could last and play well.
Then coming here was my main goal. I'm in great shape. Really all I can tell you is I'll come out tomorrow and try and shoot the best I can.

Q. Phil used the word reenergized to describe how he feels coming back; how would you describe it --
FRED COUPLES: Well I'm not reenergized (laughter) but I wait the whole year to come and play here. This is my favorite event. I've had great luck here. Had a couple other chances to win that I didn't. And I hope to play, you know, several more years.
Last year was a phenomenal year, and this year is looking the same way no matter what happens. But I hate saying no matter what happens, because that's a bad excuse when you don't do well, because I'm definitely looking forward to playing tomorrow.
But I just get -- you know, I think the excitement is there for everybody. But for me, it's just a place where I feel very good about playing. You know, it's a playground for Phil. We played a practice round and we were paired the one year he won. This is a playground and he has a great imagination, so when he gets in these places, he gets very excited to have these difficult shots (laughter).
Whereas for me, I get excited when those difficult shots are over and I've kept it somewhere out of a creek or somewhere else. But I enjoyed playing with him on Wednesday; I can tell you that, because he reeks confidence and electricity for this place. And that's no doubt. And there are some other guys that do it, too. They just haven't won it three times.
I think that's what helps him get through. I have no idea what he's shooting today, but you know, he loves it here, as I do.

Q. You made five birdies today, can you summarize those and tell us what clubs you hit?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I birdied the second hole. I got it right down in front of the green and pitched it up over the bunker to about a foot.
Then the 4th hole, they had the tee down and I hit a 7-iron to about 15 feet and made it.
On 7, I hit a 9-iron about six feet and made it.
Then on 12, I hit an 8-iron 15 feet -- is that it?
Then bogeyed 16. I hit a pretty good shot, as everyone does, and it trickled down and I misread the putt up the hill and I hit it about, I don't know, six feet right of the hole and missed that for par.
15, yeah, I went for the green in two. Hit it where I wanted to in the bunker, and it caught the lip of the bunker and scurried through up onto the fringe and I 2-putted from about 50 feet. But I did make about a ten or 12 putter.

Q. Can you pull a Jack 1986 here?
FRED COUPLES: Six years ago maybe. (Laughter).
You know, I mean, could I win? Of course. Am I looking forward to playing tomorrow? Yeah, you'd better believe it.
So realistically, I figure I have to get somewhere, nine more birdies without many bogeys. I mean, 14-under; so today was a great round to make it a thrill-seeking Saturday for me. But can I still win? This would be the only Tour event that I probably could still win. Riviera I had a great shot, and that's probably the No. 2.
But yeah, I think I can go out tomorrow and shoot a very good score, and then I'd have to do something crazy on Sunday, also.

Q. Why here?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think that just I've played so many times. The course sets up very well. I still have a lot of length. But I know the course more than most people, and it helps.

Q. What do you think the main reason someone your age has never won this tournament?
FRED COUPLES: First of all, there aren't that many. (Laughter) When Nicklaus was 46, to me, that didn't seem to be unbelievable. Watson at whatever age, 59 at the British Open, would have been totally unbelievable.
But I think when you're 50, 51, I mean, besides -- I don't even know who else besides myself, name I should know, but are there any other guys that are 50 to 55 that could win?

Q. Lehman. Is it a physical thing you think at this age?
FRED COUPLES: I just think the odds are against a 22-year-old winning. I mean, I'm not being smart, but a 22-year-old that comes out here, there might be two of them.
You know, in the whole many years I've been playing, there have been some phenomenal rounds. I mean, I remember talking about a round Tommy Aaron shot 70 or 71 when he was late 50s. But to do all of this for four rounds is a huge feat. I just hit the ball fairly long, so it gives me an advantage.
But like someone said, Ray Floyd; I don't know how old he was when I beat him in '92. I'm not smart enough to figure out how old he would have been.

Q. 49.
FRED COUPLES: Still, I'm glad I won. I'm glad he's not the oldest winner of this thing. (Laughter).
Just, there aren't many chances. So that's why.

Q. If Jack's was unbelievable, what would this be if you did it?
FRED COUPLES: Retiring, is what it would be. (Laughter) I would be gone.
You know, it would be the biggest upset in it golf history. So, sure -- are you kidding? (Laughter).
TOM NELSON: Great playing, Fred.

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