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February 8, 2012

Fred Couples


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Fred, thanks very much for joining us.  Welcome back to Dubai.
FRED COUPLES:  Yeah.  Thanks for having me.  I'm obviously very excited to be here, as is every other player.  But for me personally, I came, real quick, in '94, was invited to play, and I missed the cut, was highly embarrassed, and I think I worked television Saturday, and then asked to come back the next year and won.  And I believe I played pretty well in '96.  I'm not sure where I finished, but that was my three‑year ran day view with Dubai, and it's changed, as everyone knows and everyone says, but just to be back, it's been a lot ‑‑ I got in Sunday night.  I have not been playing much.
I was feeling great and then hurt my back again in ‑‑ I got sick at Christmas, and I really haven't played much.  So I worked hard on Monday, and I played yesterday, and I felt like today I hit a few good shots, and you know, I'm looking forward to playing tomorrow.  And I feel like I'm okay.  I don't certainly think that if I was on the regular tour, which I'm playing next week in LA, that I'd be the guy to beat anymore, but I hopefully will play well and we'll see what happens.
MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Thank you.  Do you have any questions for Fred?

Q.  How much has the course changed from the time you played and what things do you remember from 1996 about the city as well as the golf course?
FRED COUPLES:  Well, I remember that at that time ‑‑ I don't know exactly the first year the tournament was ever played here.
FRED COUPLES:  So that was five years later.  But every player, not just the top players, but every player was taken care of, and I remember buying a lot of things, and had a great time.
And as far as the golf course, it's much longer.  So is every other golf course in the world that was built in the 80s or 90s.  Maybe it's a little softer, although I played at 7:30 yesterday, but it's honestly, it's one of my favorite courses to play outside of where we play.  I mean it's really a well‑designed course.
Back then I would say it wasn't overly hard, but as I've gotten to be 52 years old and playing this one, there's a lot of rough, and it's pretty long, and maybe not long for the longest hitters anymore, just like when I was 35, I didn't think courses were all that long either, but my buddy, Mark O'Meara and I were talking, some of the holes where I would hit an 8 or 9‑iron in the old days I'm hitting a 4 or 5.  And they've added some good length.
But it's a good tournament.  It really is.  And for the guys at home, they all know that Tiger comes every year ‑‑ not this year, but has played, and everyone wants to come here.  I will say that.  Now you have the two before it that will get American players to come, and for me personally, I think I was asked a few times after '96 to come, but during those years I felt like traveling was hard, and when I signed up to come here I was actually feeling great, and I haven't really ‑‑ I've skipped the last two Senior British Opens because of the flights, you know, and it just is one of those things where you want to come back, but when the bottom line is to sign the paper to come, it just seemed better for me not to travel this far and play.  But I miss playing here in all those years.

Q.  Fred, welcome to Dubai.  You're in quite an intriguing three‑ball really, John Daly, and Monty, if I'm thinking right, I'm thinking you beat him in '95 and you beat him in '96.  So what do you make of the draw?
FRED COUPLES:  Well, I was laughing because I would bet if you look back, I played with Monty 70 percent of the time I play in a European event or British Open.  And it used to be Faldo I would get paired with a lot.  So it's kind of hard to complain when you get those two guys playing, but we were laughing on the range that Daly is the youngest guy in our group and that's not going to happen very long anymore in his life.
So he played well last week.  So John is a hoot.  As we all know, I'm not saying, anything can happen, and it happened great last week, but one thing I will say is when you play with John, you see great ball striking, and that's something ‑‑ you know, I haven't been playing.  To be honest, I played a senior event, and I got it around, but before that I played the week before the Presidents Cup, which was mid November.  So I had not played any golf.  So for me to get Monty and John, it's a little relaxing.
I would hate ‑‑ I would love to play with their top players, Robert Rock or Rory or Lee Westwood, but for me personally those days are a little bit gone, and I think the European Tour knows that by putting Montgomerie and I together they're figuring it out quickly.  In a polite way.  Maybe Monty does, but I certainly don't need to come over here and play with Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy on the first two rounds.  I don't deserve that pairing.  Maybe Saturday.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
FRED COUPLES:  My girl friend is caddying for me, and last year, Joey, my caddie of 20 years, moved on.  And so Midge caddied.  She did a great job.  And then I must have got ‑‑ I won't say 50, but 30 calls for people to caddie, and I just felt like at the time no one was going to do a better job.  Now, she doesn't get yardages, which my first 30 years on tour I never one time got a yardage, so that's a struggle for me to add and subtract.  But she does great.  And she ‑‑ you know, she knows what she's doing.  She's not an avid golfer, but she keeps up, and she's excited to be here.  She's having a great time, and after this we're going to go to the mall and to the ski slope and check it all out, which as we were talking about, when I came here, Jeb Alali (ph) Was the hotel and there was nothing.  And then finally, I noticed up on the billboard behind the 18th green, I should know the slogan, but it was the vision after that, and you know, she's looking and it looked like Las Vegas 30 years ago, it was just a golf course and dirt.  And now there's a hundred sky scrapers.

Q.  What are your hopes or expectations for the week?
FRED COUPLES:  You know, that's a great question.  My hopes, sadly enough, would be, you know, to make the cut and play well.  And for every one else, you know, I've always said the first round is very important, and to be honest, for me tomorrow it's important to get off to a pretty good start just hitting the ball.  You know, I felt like today I was paying more attention to quite a few shots, and at the beginning of the round I didn't really hit the ball that well.  I drove it great.
I have not been in the rough much.  I know that's a sad comment to make.  I'll probably be in the rough all day tomorrow, but I know the rough's out there, so it's important to hit these fairways for everybody, whether you're Alvaro Quiros or myself, who hits it not nearly as far as those guys.
But I do like the course, and any time you do that, it certainly helps, and so my expectations, you know, are I feel like I'll play well.  I mean the idea of winning, that's not an expectation, you know.  Last year the tournament I'm going to next week, LA, I almost won.  I lost to Aaron Baddeley, but I was playing much better, and I was playing a little more, and unfortunately, like I said, at Christmas I blew my back out again and I just haven't played.  That's why I'm a little edgy to play tomorrow.  It's really my first tournament.  I don't include the senior tournament because it's kind of just hit and giggles at that tournament.  I mean you want to win the senior events and I'm not saying the Champions Tour is hit and giggles but for me it was because I just hit it.  I hadn't played any golf, and I went there to support the tour, and I just played golf, whereas, here, you know, this is one of the top fields you'll have all year.  And so you want to do well.  And that's my goal.

Q.  Freddie, you spoke about blowing your back again over Christmas, and I read somewhere that you had this treatment in Germany which really almost rejuvenated you?

Q.  Can you just tell us about what you did over there in Germany and whether you're going back again?
FRED COUPLES:  Yeah, in a nutshell, last year I wasn't feeling great when I played, and after Augusta I wasn't sleeping.  My back was throbbing, and so I like anyone tried a lot of things, been all over the United States, and a friend told me about this guy in Germany, so I went.  And they take your blood, and you know, I've heard other people try and guess, but it's this treatment of working with the blood and it's not allowed in America, yet.  And so when I left there I never felt that good, but the reason I went is because I was pretty much going to quit playing because I just physically at night couldn't sleep.  And a bad back is not much fun, but not sleeping is no bargain.  And so I quit playing.  Then I came back, and I felt good right away, and then at Christmas I got a massive, I guess virus or cold, and I took this Z‑Pak, and it kind of ate up his medicine is what he told me on the phone, and he said, when your back heals, if you feel great, then it went right back to work and if it didn't, unfortunately you're going to have to come see me again and that's what happened.  But Vijay Singh went.  There have been ‑‑ a lot of my friends have gone since I went and 90 percent of them have come back not just happy, but I mean a couple of ladies went with their husbands, and it's weird because it's almost like when you see someone cure cancer and your wife has been ill and you sit there crying with them, but these ladies are crying because they can move pretty well.  And I think Vijay has gotten quite a few people to go, too.  But it's now in Los Angeles.  And so that's where I went two weeks ago.
So I went two weeks ago, then I had last week off, then I flew here.  And the same doctor, they hired a guy to do it there.  And it's a pretty simple treatment.  It's five days.  And you can go do whatever you want after you're done.  So I would go around and walk and shop and screw around in LA and then I'd go back the next morning, and it takes 30 minutes to do, and it's just working with your blood.  It's called Orthokine, but I don't know what they do.  I don't really ‑‑ as long as it works, I don't get too involved in asking what they're doing.

Q.  Do they take the blood from you and then treat the blood and put it back in?
FRED COUPLES:  They do.  Yeah.  And this guy has done every soccer player.  He's famous for his knees.  He was a back doctor his whole life.  And he tried these knees and was very successful and then he started doing the backs, but it's a lot touchier in your back.  In your knee he just puts his needle in your knee and shoots it.  In your back, for me I had nine specific spots that I went into a CAT scan and they mark your back and it's precise on how deep you go and all that stuff, but for him it was almost like nonchalant.

Q.  And they put it in your bloodstream?
FRED COUPLES:  Well, it's a version of that, but he does different things in your blood, yeah.  But it's basically the same thing, but a little more involved.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
FRED COUPLES:  Peter Welling.  And he's in Dusseldorf, Germany.  He's ‑‑ the Pope he worked on.  I mean before ‑‑ no, honestly, before I went there, my agent was calling him and he wouldn't give him one name.  It's not really his style.  He's not, you know, your typical guy.  Then when I got there, I'm looking at these walls, and Kobe Bryant has been here and LeBron.
For me, I do know quite a few soccer players, but he's famous for soccer players.  And again, you can go there, get your knee shot up and play the next day.  And so the same with the back.  When I left, he wanted me to start hitting balls Monday when I got home.  So it's not like a surgery and then take a month off and figure it out.
But I've had 10 or 12 people go, and it's expensive.  I mean besides flying over there, but the treatment is expensive.  There's no insurance.  So most of the friends come back, and you know, it would be hard to swallow spending that kind of money and not feeling any better.  I can promise you that.  But the guy is amazing.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
FRED COUPLES:  Well, we both have used the same teacher, Paul Marchand for a while, so I'm sure Paul will come up.  But you know, I mean I'm sure something will come up.  But I don't think anything drastic.  It's a Ryder Cup year, and I'm looking around when I'm playing, and looking at some of their guys and seeing their swings and all that.  But I'm sure ‑‑ I'll ask him, like who are some of the quiet guys that may make the team that I don't know about.
You know, I played yesterday with Nicolas Colsaerts, so I think he could be a sleeper.  He's an amazing player.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
FRED COUPLES:  Huge hitter, yeah, but he's got ‑‑ you know, I watched him, I think maybe a month ago in South Africa miss out in that playoff, and we'd set this game up to play, and I was hoping he'd win there and we got here we could talk about that.  But then I didn't want to bring it up.  But he didn't care, he was pretty light hearted, but very talented.  But I'm sure Quiros will make a huge run of making that team or maybe he's easily up there.  But that's a huge event, huge event.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
FRED COUPLES:  Well, not a great chance.  I mean I still have a chance, but I think being the Presidents Cup captain the first time and probably knowing 80 percent of the players really, really, really well and then being at the last time in Australia and I didn't really know Webb Simpson that well or Bubba Watson, but taking care of them, you know, it sounds easy to say, but you want to win, but by being on all these teams, my goal is to make them feel extremely comfortable, and the Presidents Cup is a little more laid back, but it's still four days of golf, so I don't really understand why anything is different.
But we do well in it.  And I can promise you that when we're there, you know, that's said a lot, that you know, even though we won ten years ago, it's got a little relevancy when you keep winning.  And so our guys enjoy having me around.  And I feel like I'm a guy's guy and if one guy gets something handled this way, another guy can get it that way, and it worked out well.
So maybe in the next two or four years I'll get a shot at it, but they are going to name another Presidents Cup captain here in another month and I know they're all pushing for me to do it again, so I'm all for that.  But obviously I would ‑‑ I think ‑‑ I mean I would love to be a Ryder Cup captain, there's no doubt.

Q.  I saw no one asking you the Tiger question.  You actually give him a spot in the Presidents Cup even when they first showed that he was not going to qualify.  Your caddie is now caddying for him, actually.  And you've been a good friend of his.  What's the kind of transformation you saw in him in these last four months, play wise that is?
FRED COUPLES:  You know, that's a great question.  I mean I think, A, the whole world knows he made the biggest blunder in the world, but then he stopped playing and had other things to do, and then he got injured, and he's a humongous practicer, and I can promise you, one of the things that really ‑‑ when anyone gets going well, they keep doing what they're doing, so if I was going to come to Dubai and play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and work on my game and I was still a very good player and I played well, I would do that until I ran out of juice.  So for him to not go hit balls for four and five hours a day because of his knee was a huge problem.  And I think of athletes when they say he's one of the hardest workers, he could still work out, but he could work around that knee.  He could do other things, so he was getting stronger and doing all that.  But his golf game was suffering.
So I made it perfectly clear that when I chose him, that you know, what's your game plan.  I'll be playing every day, I'll be ready.  I don't know how you can have the No. 1 player in the world for 12 years look at you and say I'll be ready and you say, you know, I'll think about it.  Maybe you'll make it.  So my decision was you need to play in a tournament in the off ‑‑ after the ‑‑ whatever we call it, the playoffs, so he played at CordeValle.  And I'm talking to my caddie every day, and he's saying, look, the guy is rusty from not playing, but he's hitting the ball extremely well, and we all know his driver is getting a little better.  Then when I saw him play in Sydney, I played the tournament, I think besides his driver, he was as good as he used to be.  And he still killed them hitting some drives there.  And then at Melbourne he drove it really, really well.
Now, that's not a golf course where you feel uncomfortable, but there are some good driving holes there, and he whipped that driver out.  So for me personally, I think a lot of it is he stopped practicing four and five hours a day, and I had friends keeping an eye on the whole thing.  I wasn't really worried about him.  But he was practicing four and five hours a day.  I've never done that in my life, but if you do that, it's important for you to continue to do that.  Just like some of these tennis players that you hear ‑‑ I mean I know Nadal very well, this guy works, he's an animal, but he's not going to beat these guys if he says, you know, I'm just going to practice for 40 minutes.  And Tiger's got the same ‑‑ when you're the No. 1 player, you want to stay there, and you just can't rest.  So I think his body broke down and kept him from practicing, and I think once your game starts to slope, I mean Lee Westwood was never Tiger Woods, but Lee Westwood is now one of the top players in the world.  I don't know how many years ago, but he was not very good.  And now you watch him and you go, how could that have happened.
But people don't bring that up because he's not Tiger Woods, but let me tell you, Lee Westwood is phenomenal.  If he could have won a couple of majors that other people beat him, we'd be talking about one of the top players on the European Tour, maybe not because he didn't win six or eight majors like a Faldo did, but with Tiger, everything is just pushed bigger and bigger and bigger and it's just part of the deal, and he doesn't have a problem with it.

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