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August 21, 2011

Fred Couples


THE MODERATOR: Okay. Fred Couples wins the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship in a three-hole playoff. Fred claims his first major championship on the Championships Tour. You join Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd as just the third player to win both Players Championship and a Constellation Energy Seniors Championship. It's your fifth career title on the Championships Tour. You earn 810 Charles Schwab Cup points, and 15th different winner in 18 events on the Championships Tour this year. Congratulations, Fred. It was a long day, exciting with the delay and then getting back out and then you and John battled it out in the playoff. Just some general thoughts about the day and then take us down the stretch.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I mean I wouldn't say I was playing awesome golf before the rain delay, but it wasn't bad. And then after the rain delay I was -- I just didn't feel very good. I laid down and put my feet up.
And you know, I hit some good drives, but I was not all that great. And you know, maybe I was lucky that the wind blew and it was tough, because John did make a lot of birdies today, but I think he made three bogeys on the Back 9. I'm not sure.
And it was just difficult out there. I was trying to hold on and then I made a nice putt at 16, you know, to stay tied, and I could not birdie 18 under any circumstance to save my life the whole week, and even after I knocked it on there, it was not an easy putt. I tried to hit it firm enough so it wouldn't break way to the right or way to the left, and I chose long better than hitting it soft. But I didn't mean to hit it ten feet by.
Other than that, I felt like it was a hard day. I'm sure there were some good scores, but you know, the three of us that were in the lead or had the lead most of the day it was tough. It was really tough to hit really, really good shots and there were some hard holes out there to par.
THE MODERATOR: After all you've gone through this year, how satisfying is it to win this event at Westchester?
FRED COUPLES: You know, you're always surprised after you come back. I did work on my game. I went to Idaho for about 11 days and I played seven days, and then I knew I was hitting the ball pretty well. And then I went to Minnesota, and my short game was horrendous. And once I got here, you know, like I said from day one that I like Westchester. I can play this golf course. It was a huge help that I've played a hundred rounds here over the 30 years I've been on TOUR.
And I think the same with John Cook. I'm sure he told you that. You know, I feel great that I won and we're all looking to win out here and John has had a phenomenal year, and I knew -- nothing against Peter Senior, but I knew John was really the guy. It all comes out wrong when you say that, but he's just been playing so well. And on this kind of a course, I just felt like I had to play better than those guys, and Peter, too, played very well, but John had a good day, just came up a shaft short.
THE MODERATOR: Can you just sort of take us through the round and maybe tell us clubs and distances there in the playoffs as well.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, pretty boring round. The third hole I three-putted from probably 25 feet and I ran it five feet by and missed it. Then I hit a beautiful iron on No. 6. I hit a 7-iron. The pin was all the way back and I made about a 10-footer for birdie.
And 8 was the first shot coming back and I pull hooked the 5-iron left of the green, but actually was okay. I pitched it to about six feet and missed it. And then I butchered 9. I had a 6-iron for my third shot and made par. Then we got around to No. 12, or actually No. 10 I drove it in front of the green and chipped it 15 feet short and made it for birdie. And then 12 I had a 3-wood to the green and missed it pin high to the right in the muff. Did not have that hard of a shot. I had a mediocre lie and fluffed it on the front edge or from my angle and two-putted for bogey. And then hit a 9-iron on 14 to about 15 feet and made it. And then parred in.
And the playoff.
THE MODERATOR: Par save at 16.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. 16 I missed the green by probably 15 feet. And John had just made bogey, which maybe made my putt a little easier. I would like to say that's why I made it.
And so I tied him there and went to a playoff and first playoff was good. I was close to getting on top. John was a long ways away. The second playoff I knocked it on in two, but had a 70-footer, and like I said, I just putted it well by. And then the third playoff hole, you know, John didn't hit a great shot for him, which gave me a little bit of an opening, and I hit a sand wedge to about three feet.

Q. Did you feel at all after three-putting after you put the ball on the green at all that maybe it was kind of slipping away, that it was an opportunity that you missed?
FRED COUPLES: You know, not in the playoff. You just never know what's going to go on with one other guy. John made a really, really nice 7 or 8-footer on the first playoff hole to keep it going and then I couldn't make it on the second one.
But you don't want to squander those chances, but to say I could walk up and two-putt that from that distance it was not an easy first putt, and the second putt I left too long, but it was a pretty straight putt. I just fanned it and left it kind of short and to the left.

Q. Fred, you said that you weren't feeling all that great after the rain delay. Was it the back?
FRED COUPLES: Actually it was my hip. My hip is killing me. You know, I don't know why. I went in there and laid down and put my feet up. And you know, when they come in there, it's a pretty rushed, rushed deal. They did give us plenty of time to hit balls. But then I walked from there all the way down to the eighth fairway, tried to loosen up, and I pull hooked it in the bunker on 9 and tried to hit a wood out of there and hit the lip and then skulled a 6-iron up on the green and two-putted. It was just okay.
But the wind, you know, there were no easy shots. I'm not saying this golf course played like a bear, but there were no easy shots and there were a lot of holes, you just couldn't get the ball close with the pins. They had some tough pins.

Q. The hip, is that something new?
FRED COUPLES: Well, it is right now. But I'm pretty sure just the way I calmed down. It was awfully cold in the locker room. I don't know. I don't know.

Q. Which hip, Fred?

Q. I guess on the same vein you backed off a lot of shots all day. You looked uncomfortable all day. Hip, wind, anything else involved with that?
FRED COUPLES: When my body starts to go bad, when I walk into a shot, to be honest with you, if I was in 40th place, I would have hit 80 percent of them, but you know, I was grinding it out. And when I walk in there and I put my feet down, a lot of times I just don't feel very -- I don't feel right. So I back up and I start all over.
And you know, it's just like if you don't feel good and you stand on your left side, you know, something hurts, and you gotta -- I just have to stand in a way that feels comfortable, and I back off a ton of shots. But like I say, when I don't play well, I just -- I kind of -- you can't keep backing off of them. But I didn't feel horrible. I just was not loose and not prepared to hit some of those shots.

Q. Is that kind of the price of playing senior golf, that everybody's got a little something here and there?
FRED COUPLES: I said that, too, except when my back was out out. But I'm one of the younger guys, and everyone's got nooks and aches and problems. But I have been feeling so good I just did not -- I don't think any of us need a rain delay. It's hard when you're whatever age and your body just kind of shrinks up and tightens up and then you run back out there and hit balls for 20 minutes and then you start playing right away.
But if I had not won today, that would not have been an excuse. I'm so used to playing with a stiff body it's not the end of the world. But the question was why do I back off so much. I just don't feel right over the ball.

Q. Fred, the par putt on 16 from 15 feet, did you feel that might be the ball game there if you missed that?
FRED COUPLES: You know, 17 was birdie-able. Of course, 18 is a par 5, but I wasn't really thinking 18 with the wind blowing that hard that, you know, I needed to make this putt because it wasn't a hole you could just knock it on in two.
It was a nice putt. I kind of read it correctly and hit it and it went in. But I felt like if I missed that, I would be in big trouble, yeah.

Q. Fred, you played 75 holes, four days. 21 today. Can you evaluate your back at this stage, aside from the hip thing?
FRED COUPLES: My back, you know, like I said, I was good off the tee. I wasn't as good, but I was swinging as hard as I could on every one of those last few holes on 17 and 18 in regulation and then 18 both times and 17. And you know, I have some strength, which is nice.

Q. Fred, you got a berth in PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP next year, a place you've won a few times. Did you think you'd be going back there ever?
FRED COUPLES: You might have thrown me for a loop with that one. You know, I'll go. Yeah. That'll be very exciting. I did not know that. I'm excited that I don't have -- on my mind was the double Pro-Ams next year. I'm in 100th position, so that was a big -- I'm not kidding you. If I hadn't won today, every spot was important where you gotta finish I think in the top 30, and the Schwab Cup, you know, for me is well down the list because I don't play any, but the top 30 is a big boost, but I did not know that the winner got to go to TPC. That's great. I get to play, you know, with the studs, so that'll be fun.

Q. When you went for treatment, could you have envisioned winning this quickly?
FRED COUPLES: Winning this quick, you know, no, because I didn't play any golf in those two and a half months. But this is a course that I can handle, and I survived. You know, it was a little -- it was a little edgy out there today. I'm not going to lie to you, and with the wind blowing I thought, oh, my God, could it just be a little easier, you know. But I hit enough good shots, I guess. I was not great today. But you know, when you have the lead and, you know, no one's shooting -- again, John Cook, he made a lot of birdies. He hit the ball very, very well. He just made enough bogeys to keep me close, and like I say, he's been a friend forever. It was a very relaxed playoff. I don't think -- I mean someone's going to lose and it's going to be a bit of an issue, but if I'd have lost, I'd have felt fine with it.

Q. Fred, as you were watching that ball drop down on 17, can you just run through what you were thinking? You kind of just stood there and your eyes followed it all the way down. In the playoff.
FRED COUPLES: The second shot?

Q. Yeah.
FRED COUPLES: Well, I knew when it was going it was a really good shot. I didn't think -- you know, I didn't think it was going to be short and trickle down the hill. I just felt like it was going to be right there. It was simple yardage, 76 yards, and it hit soft. And that extra rain certainly helped that shot. But I knew it was going to be close.

Q. We were asking you how do you feel physically, but how do you feel emotionally after this? Do you feel like I just won a major? Do you feel like thank God I won again? What does this feel like?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I feel really nice that I just found out that I'm going to TPC. That's a boost. You know, it is a major. You know, I feel great about winning my first senior major. I just hope tomorrow when I wake up I feel better than I do now, and that's the emotional part of it because I've been doing so well. I don't really know what I'll feel like, but basically, you know, you play to win tournaments. It's not like I've won 100 of them, but I've won enough of them, and you know, today was a fun day. It was a challenging day, and it was a fun day, and to win, you know, it's a good feeling.

Q. When do you play again?
FRED COUPLES: Next week in Seattle.
THE MODERATOR: Fred thank you very much. Congratulations.

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