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July 24, 2013

Fred Couples


PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ We are joined by defending champion Fred Couples, coming off The Open Championship last week at Muirfield.テつ We are here at Birkdale where you finished tied for third in 1991 shooting 64 in the last round.
You got around the course yesterday with the Pro‑Am, just some thoughts about coming back to defend at the Senior Open Championship.
FRED COUPLES:テつ Well, it's nice to be back.テつ It is one of my favourite courses.テつ It's just unique.
And I did play yesterday in the Rolex Pro‑Am and I felt like certainly coming from Muirfield and having it rain, I guess Monday night and going to play, that it was totally different.テつ We were flying balls on the greens; the holes that were 480 played 480, they were not 4‑irons and 8‑irons.
I thought it was a pretty good test.テつ I'm going to go out and play a few holes today, try to get the feel of as many holes as I can but compared‑‑ you come over here, I knew I was going to be here two weeks.
But last week was just as unique as any golf I've ever played.テつ When there was a hole that you were told to hit 4‑iron off the tee, you would never hit a 3‑iron because it just was too much club, and if it was different conditions, they would have been 3‑woods off the tee and the ball was just going so far.
And not so much uncontrollable, hard to hit a ball close to the holes.テつ I didn't make many birdies besides the par 5s, and then you come here and the first par 5 we are going to play is the 15th hole.
So that's a long time to wait to hopefully hit a few good shots and give yourself a birdie putt.テつ Because the rest of the holes, if you're off a little bit, you're going to make a lot of bogeys.テつ It's just that tough and good of a golf course.

テつテつテつテつテつテつ PHIL STAMBAUGH:テつ Talk about your game coming in.
FRED COUPLES:テつ Yeah, well, this is the third week I've played and fourth of the last five, so that's a lot of golf.テつ I didn't pay much attention yesterday.テつ I just kind of didn't try and do too much and today will be the same.
But my game's okay.テつ I played well last week and then at Omaha in the Senior Open, I felt like I played really, really well and just didn't putt well at all and so here, I think these greens are this week are perfect.テつ Great speed, they are going to get a little faster but they were awesome.テつ And you know, I'm going to have to putt to be a contender, and I think I'm putting okay.
But I don't want to say it's a lot of golf but the travelling and getting over here, I'm just anxious for tomorrow to start and get going.
I took it easy last week.テつ Didn't practise a whole lot and I played nine holes knowing that this week probably was more important, but when I started playing, I moved my way up on the weekend.テつ I barely made the cut and then coming here, I didn't do anything Monday.テつ Yesterday was a simple day and today is going to be a bit of practise to try to figure out the course.
My back feels good.テつ I think, knock‑on‑wood, I'll get through here and then I have three weeks off to rest and let thaw out a little bit.

Q.テつ (How does Birkdale compare to other Open courses)?
FRED COUPLES:テつ The thing about Birkdale is it's like all of the courses but I think this one plays a little bit longer because of how the bunkering is out there, and I mean, there's a couple holes today I might hit driver on to try to get over the bunkers, and I just have to remember, there's a little less rough on the left side of the hole.
There's a lot of rough on the right, so if you do get it way down there and you hit it where you're looking, I don't believe you necessarily have to be in the fairway if you hit it in the right the spot, and you'll hit a much shorter club.テつテつ And there's a few of those holes.テつ So instead of hitting a 3‑iron off the tee, maybe I might hit a 3‑wood or driver.
But I know one thing, there's a lot of rough out there.テつ It's just not on both sides of the fairways.テつ So I don't remember‑‑ I finished third.テつ I had 64 the last round, I'm sure I went past everybody.テつ I think Ian Baker‑Finch had a great last round, too.テつ I think he shot a pretty low score.
But again, like I say, St. Andrews is awesome.テつ Muirfield's awesome.テつ They are all awesome.テつ This one is just so different.テつ I think it depends on how you're playing.テつ I don't think it's a course where you ever really feel comfortable.テつ You know, like I say, you don't may‑‑ there are birdie holes‑‑ any hole, the sixth hole is the hardest hole on the course and you can make a birdie on it but you don't really get the par 5s until 15 and 17.テつ And I don't know many courses that that happens where guys are going to be maybe 3‑over par and might birdie them both.テつ Par 18 and shoot 1‑over.テつ Or you might be 4‑under par and you get there and get a hell of a round going with birdies on those holes.
And they are not gimmies by my stretch, they are par 5s, but still you have to hit a good drive and a second shot and get it up around the green or on the green.テつ It's not like all of a sudden you say, wow, the 15th hole is a par 5 and I'm going to make birdie.テつ They are not that easy.

Q.テつ How is this weekテや冱 set-up compared to Muirfield?
FRED COUPLES:テつ Muirfield's rough was really punishing because most of the times when you're coming out of the rough, you don't hit it exactly out of the line.テつ It's just not going to come out of that heavy stuff‑‑ if it went out a little bit to the left because the face closed‑‑ a couple shots I hit went straight left and I was trying to do a little too much; whereas here, I feel like the rough's thick enough to make it really hard but it's on one side or the other.
But it's brutal.テつ I mean, they don'tdon't not let the grass grow because older or not as good of players are coming in here.テつ They are; it's still out there.テつ It's like the bunkers, you don't try and do anything but out of the grassy I feel like we all try and hit it further.
When you're in sand, you just barely get it out and let it roll in the middle of the fairway and then you take your lumps.テつ When you get in the rough‑‑ last week, I was in the rough a few times with bad lies and I never hit a good shot out of it.
So here, if I don't have a good lie, I think I'm taking the wedge out and just trying to maneuver it a hundred yards down the fairway.

Q.テつ Compare the level of play on the Champions Tour vs PGA Tour?
FRED COUPLES:テつ I think the Champions Tour, Senior Tour is very hard.テつ It's hard to put into a thing whether Monty comes out and wins a lot or wins a little or wins a major; or whether, you know, Billy Andrade when I heard just finished fourth in the regular PGA TOUR event is coming out later this year.
For me personally, it's just a challenge of playing, and here we are at the Senior Open on a course that, you know, has hosted regular Open Championships.
So that gives me the real flavour of this Tour.テつ I play maybe 15 events, and with five of them being Majors, which is kind of nice, but it's a strong tour.テつ You know, when you look at what some people do, obviously the U.S. Open, where Kenny Perry just won, you're not going to have someone shoot 64, 63, in a regular U.S. Open.テつ It's not going to happen.
But, we're playing courses that I played really, really well the last day.テつ Just comes down to putting and hitting the ball closer to the hole.テつ But it's a strong tour.テつ The one thing we have going for us is we have a lot of good players, and to win, just doesn't fall in your lap because you played a couple good rounds.テつ You have to play great golf and you have to do it often to win.

Q.テつ Between the regular tour and the Champions Tour‑‑
FRED COUPLES:テつ Depends on what you're looking at.テつ I think the first day Mark O'Meara had a really about round at Muirfield.テつ Tom Lehman played really well.テつ I played, paired with Tom Watson, who played a great round of golf and didn't putt well at the end and ended up I think shooting 74 or 75.テつ But that kind of slowed him down the next day because we played in the afternoon and it played hard.テつ A lot of us made the cut.テつ Peter Senior made the cut.
Depends on‑‑ like I played the Memorial Tournament.テつ I felt like I played really well.テつ I finished 40th.テつ I played at Augusta, which is totally different.テつ I feel like I can play there and I played Riviera in L.A., which is one of my favourite tournaments, and I think I finished 35th or 40th there, too.
On Sunday night, I felt like I played just like I did when I was 30.テつ We have fans that come out and want to see us, but we don't play like those guys really, like Bubba and Webb Simpson and Graeme McDowell.テつ It's not different golf; we just don't do it every single day on courses like that.テつ We can do it on our courses.テつ We are not shooting 72s and winning on our courses.テつ They are a little shorter, and maybe the greens are a little slower.
But they are not easy by any shape.テつ That course in Omaha was a pretty good course for the U.S. Open and if you take away Kenny Perry shooting those crazy scores, it would have been an unbelievable finish, but he got a head, and on the last day and Michael Allen I think shot maybe 1‑ or 2‑over and Kenny shot a great score.
But it's not a comparison, at all.

Q.テつ How difficult was Muirfield last week?
FRED COUPLES:テつ Well, I guess if it had not rained, it would have been.テつ But I honestly think if the Senior Open was last week, I shot nine open, I would have won‑‑ I beat O'Meara, Lehman‑‑ maybe I'm missing it.テつ There's obviously so many players here this week but I think me finishing 30th, I would have won the Senior Open at 9‑over.
So when you come here, I'm looking at this course, it's softened up, and the uniqueness of last week was‑‑ I mean, the very first hole Tiger played on Sunday, he had a wedge to the green.テつ He hit it 90 feet and he thought he hit a good second shot.テつ Adam Scott hit out of the bunker and he was five yards ahead of him, and he hit a wedge that carried I think on to the front of the green and rolled all the way down the little embankment.テつ Those two shots were with pitching wedges and they went a hundred feet apart.
So if you were playing in America and we both had 120‑yard wedges, you could play the rest of your life and not hit them with, those two calibre of players, 120 yards apart, same shot.テつ So that's the uniqueness of it.テつ I'm not saying Tiger or Adam got unlucky.テつ It's just one hit maybe a little ripple and stopped and that guy hit on the downslope and went a mile away.テつ So you don't shake your said and you say, 'I hate Muirfield, I keep getting bad bounces or bad breaks.'
It's just it was‑‑ I never hit a shot close to the hole.テつ I never had a five‑foot birdie putt.テつ I had one I hit that rolled up to six inches on the 14th; it was potluck.テつ Just hit and rolled.テつ It's not like you ever saw anyone hit iron after iron in there close, unless they were into the wind.

Q.テつ Talk about Phil Mickelson and what the win means ‑‑
FRED COUPLES:テつ Oh, he's always the guy you can pair anyone with in The Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.テつ He's a good teammate.テつ That win, I know him pretty well‑‑ I know his caddie better.テつ That was a humongous win, maybe bigger than the Masters or any of the other stuff.テつ Now he knows ‑‑ he can play the U.S. Open.テつ He finished second six times, I don't know; I think it's harder to do that than win the U.S. Open.
But this was a tournament that he probably felt like maybe he would never really, really compete in.テつ And he worked hard and I think that win in Aberdeen gave him a lot of confidence.
But I promise you that win on Sunday, and the round he played, they didn't show him much at the beginning, which was weird.テつ I guess in America they showed him playing a lot.テつ But I kept saying, I think he was 1‑under maybe, and he's like 1‑over in the tournament and they haven't shown him hit a shot and then maybe the first hole they showed, he bogeyed 10; of course.テつ He hit it in the bunker and blocked it short.
And then like you said, he got on that little roll, hit a beautiful shot on 13, the par3 and then made a humongous 2‑putt par on is a where he rolled it past, which probably made his putt on 16 a little easier but he played great.テつ I think Lee Westwood was the guy to beat, and that's who he beat, with a great round.

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