Fred Couples (Flash)


By USGA
July 14, 2012

 

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  We're pleased to welcome Fred Couples back to the Media Center.  Fred made a great charge today.  He recorded a 5 under 65.  He's 5 under for the championship.  What were the keys to your success today?

FRED COUPLES:  Well, that's a good question.  I didn't do anything great, but I hit a lot of good irons.  I had a couple three putts, but I made a few putts too.

When I did drive in the rough, I got very good lies.  I think I got most of them onto the green.  And really, I just played a good round and made a lot of nice four‑ and five‑foot par putts.

The biggest blunder I had was I hit two great shots on ‑‑ is it 15, the par 5, about 20 feet above the hole and putted it 10 feet by and missed it for par.  Other than that, I did all right.  I hit the ball solid and got myself semi back into it.

THE MODERATOR:  You want to talk about No. 9?

FRED COUPLES:  Yeah, Number 9, they moved the tees up a little bit, maybe ten yards.  I thought I hit two pretty good drives the first two days, and today I just figure from the tees that were up, I just aim further right and hit it, and I didn't really know where it was, but I guess it flew onto the green.

The first two days, I was certainly trying to drive it further right but hit it where it bounced down through the fairway short of the bunkers.  Today I just decided, not knowing I could get to the green, but just to go as far right as I thought possible and actually pushed it a little bit.

THE MODERATOR:  Just a great shot.

FRED COUPLES:  Yeah.

THE MODERATOR:  Let's open it up to questions.

Q.  Just quickly on 9, so did you hole the green with the driver?  Did it skip off?

FRED COUPLES:  No, it stayed on.

Q.  How long was that?

FRED COUPLES:  About 20 feet.

Q.  So yesterday, you finished with two bogeys in your last three.  Were you playing poorly?  Did you see this round coming at all today?

FRED COUPLES:  No.  Yesterday was a little windier at the start.  I think the course was a little harder.  Tee time was two hours later in the day.  It got a little crusty.  I kind of made a bad bogey on 16.  And then on 17, I misplayed an iron shot and hit it all the way to the back of the green.  I had a 40‑foot putt with a lot of break to it and left it short and missed that.

You're going to make bogeys out there if you put in the wrong spots.  Today, when I did drive it in the rough, I got really nice lies.  I had 9 irons and wedges and got them onto the green.

Did I see it coming?  Yesterday, I wish I would have parred a couple more of those holes and made another putt and had 66 or 5.  But it is what it is.  Today, I don't sit here and say I need to go out and shoot 65.  That's obvious.  But if I'd played well and shot 69, that would have been a great score too.

Q.  Fred, question about do you still strive at this age to constantly improve as a senior player?  Do you still work on your game to improve?  How is it different now that you don't hit the ball as far?  What do you work on to try to improve?

FRED COUPLES:  That's a good question.  I think, for me personally, I don't practice any at all.  No, I mean, I try and play.  And when I get stretches where I can play maybe two or three weeks in a row, I can pick up the pace a little bit.

But my days of actually going to the golf course and working on something ‑‑ I mean, I have a teacher, and I work with him, but it's nothing like 20 years ago.

So really, to answer your question, I think for a lot of people, if they're healthy, they can go out and work on their games.  I don't think I've ever hit a ball after a round on the Champions Tour or the last three or four years on the regular tour.  To get better, you have to do something.  For me, I try and maybe play one more a week, which I don't play much anyway, but one more week in a stretch of tournaments.

For instance, I played Pittsburgh.  I hurt my back Saturday.  I felt like I was in pretty much control to maybe win that tournament, and I slapped it around over the weekend.  Then I didn't touch a club until I came here on Tuesday.  I wouldn't say that's really good preparation, but there's really not a lot I could do.

I probably could have gone out and worked on my short game and chipped and putted, but even the bending over there is just not a bonus for me.  So you come here, you play, you do the best you can.  It's a golf course that I felt like I was ready to play the first day and yesterday and today.  It's not I'm getting better every day because I'm playing more golf, I just feel like I'm saving shots.  I gave away a few the first day.  72 was really not very good.

Q.  A couple things, Fred.  On 8, you had kind of a lie below your feet.  It looks like you struggled to hit that one and then you kind of seized up a little bit.  I'm wondering at that point, where were you?

FRED COUPLES:  Well, I hit my driver closer on the 9th hole than I did a 116‑yard shot on the 8th hole.  That's the problem.  I can't bend down and have weight on my toes and hit it.  So I do my best.

I know I'm not really going to hit a good shot.  If you watched, I mean, even on the 10th hole, I made my second shot, but I had a sand wedge, and I hit it way too far, way to the right, and it caught the slope and went down and went in, but that's not where I was playing the shot.  But it went in.

So then I walked up there, and I had the ridge to come over.  I could have hit a better first putt, but instead of having a wedge that you think you're going to have a birdie putt, now you get up there and really have a tough two‑putt, and I three‑putted.

I didn't throw away two strokes, but I definitely threw away a shot.

Q.  You didn't really throw them away.  It seems like you're not capable of certain lies and certain shots.

FRED COUPLES:  Right.  To answer that question, anything with a longer club, I feel pretty comfortable, from a 9 iron to a pitching wedge.  And when the ball's below my feet, I'm pretty much hoping to hit it solid and not hurt myself.  That's unfortunate, but that's the way it is.

Q.  You mentioned the three‑putt at 15 for par, you came back with birdie at 16.  I didn't see that.  Could you just tell us what happened.

FRED COUPLES:  Well, I hit driver on 16, and I hit a much better drive through the fairway, but I had a wedge out of the rough.  I played it where it rolled.  I don't know where it hit, but it rolled all the way back of the green, 20 feet, and made it.

Q.  Fred, I don't know how much you've looked at the leaderboard.  You're two shots out of second right now, but Bernhard looks like he's pulling away.  Have you given any thought to what you think you need to shoot to get in contention tomorrow?

FRED COUPLES:  Well, no.  He's got seven more holes to play.  He's going crazy.  Yeah, 60.  How does that sound?  Does that sound pretty good?  Not really realistic.

Tomorrow, I hope to be prepared to start out with a good drive on the 1st hole and then go from there.  It's a par 5.  You know you want to get it down the fairway and get going.

No, he could make ‑‑ I don't know what he could do.  He could maybe bogey a hole and finish at 10 under or birdie three more and shoot 60 himself.

I could tell you this much.  He's not going to come back tomorrow.  So whoever it is, Corey and whoever is going to have to play a remarkable round to win.  I'm at least inching closer.

Q.  The eagle on 10, did you feel that rush of the crowd when it went up on the board?  Does that kind of get your juices flowing a little bit still?

FRED COUPLES:  Yeah.  Again, it was a shot that started coming back down the slope.  You know it's going to be close when they start to ooh and aah.  As it went closer, they threw their hands up.  Yeah, it's a great feeling.  You don't make many eagles, especially from the fairway.  So it was fun.

Q.  Fred, just for the record, can you walk us through the 10th?  What happened, the driver and the distance on the wedge.

FRED COUPLES:  I hit 3 iron off the tee, and I had 105 yards to the pin, and I was trying to really cut the sand wedge in there.  There was plenty of club.

I don't really flinch at them, but I hit them a little harder because it's just kind of the way the swing goes, and it flew past the hole up on the slope.  I mean, it was a good shot, but that's not how I was really trying to play it.  It caught the slope and funneled right down to the hole.

Q.  This is a followup to what I asked before.  How much do you play by feel after playing all these rounds from the time you're like 7, 8 years old till now?  Do you just play by osmosis?  Do you just know, regardless of the course, what to do at the right time?  Today you shot a 65.  How much was that about just feeling the game even though you can't practice like you used to?

FRED COUPLES:  Well, some guys fundamentally are a little more solid or a little more into it.  I have a couple of mechanical things that I work on, but I play all by feel.

Again, when my back really feels good, I can try and overpower the course and hit a lot of shots that I'm capable of hitting.  When I don't feel that good, I try to feel my way around the course.

I'll tell you that when I stand up over the tee ball, I feel pretty good because I'm standing taller and the ball is further from my feet.  But that's a good question.  Some guys, they get up there and make sure their stance is square and their takeaway.  I do that when I feel really, really good.  Otherwise, I have no feel at all for the game.  I just kind of swing at it.

Sometimes I hit one‑handed, but I make sure I hit the ball solid, and I don't hit it nearly as far.  For instance, yesterday and Thursday, I was hitting some 8 irons 145 yards, and today I actually hit a couple of 9 irons 145 yards because I felt a little better.  That would be feeling it around the course.

Q.  Fred, would you please comment on Lance Ten Broeck as a golfer?

FRED COUPLES:  Right.  Well, yeah, if I was to caddie the last seven weeks in a row, I would have come here and certainly not shot what he's shooting.  He's a very, very good player.

I didn't realize that he had maybe lost in a playoff to get a Senior Tour card at the beginning of the year, is that correct?  Or was very close.  He's doing well.  He's got the lead in the tournament.  I know 1 over is not great when everyone else is under par, but he's really a good player.  I've known him since we were 21 and 20 years old with he and Mike Donald and a few other guys.

I think he has a lot of respect for the game.  Back then, I think he would sit here and tell you that he was maybe a little wild.  But as a caddie, he takes his job seriously.  Otherwise, he wouldn't caddie for the players he caddies for.  So he's around the game.

But just to carry the bag and then to take it off your shoulder and the next week play in a Senior U.S. Open and do what he's doing, I think, is remarkable.

That's not to say he doesn't have a good golf game, but that would be like me working at UPS for seven weeks and coming here.  There's no way I'd be able to play.  But that's not my job.  My job is to play golf.  So I feel pretty lucky.

THE MODERATOR:  Well, good moving day.

FRED COUPLES:  Nice.

THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Fred.

 

 

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