MORE INTERVIEWS: Regions Tradition transcript archive
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Fred, 6‑under par 66, made a nice 10‑footer for a par to get in with the lead. Just a few thoughts about the round.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, well, perfect morning, obviously a lot of rain. The golf course played longer and I just felt like if I got off to driving the ball well, I would continue to hit driver and hit it down there and I did. I drove it well and I had a nice stretch of holes there. I birdied the 3rd hole, par 5. And then No. 6, is that the other par 5, I hit two good shots and made about a 20‑footer for eagle. Made a nice bomb on 7 from about 30 feet, and then made a couple more birdies. Actually the last, you know, I struggled a little bit, I hit the wrong shot on 16 (inaudible) green back and made bogey, and then made a nice 10‑footer for par on the last.
Other than that, you know, it was good playing and I had a great group. I played with Tom and Jay, and Tom always plays well here. You know, the pace of the greens were perfect. I think the golf course could not be in any better shape, it's perfect.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: What did you hit in the second shot at 6?
FRED COUPLES: A 5‑wood.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Maybe talk about the course with all the rain.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, the golf course, I played 14 holes yesterday, the fairways were the best they've ever been here for the three years, and the greens, they took a little bit of water last night that you never saw. If you were in the rough, you could get the ball on the green. And I think it will be the same today, and if we don't get more rain maybe by the weekend they'll firm up a little bit. But it took a lot of rain, obviously it made the course play a little easier. I don't think if it stayed hard and fast you would see the scoring you did, and that's unfortunate because in a tournament like this you want it to play harder, but it's in perfect shape.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: You were talking out there, I guess, the last nine holes in '90 you had a real good shot to win and Wayne Grady won, but you like this course.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I do. I didn't play well at all a couple years ago and then last year I had a very good last round to move my way up there but I never really had a shot of beating Tom. I think I shot maybe 7‑under the last round, so I was not even really a factor, but at least it felt like I could shoot another good round here. This year I played really well today, so 66 is a very good start. I look forward to playing tomorrow.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Questions?
Q. You looked like on 16 you had a pretty tricky shot. Can you talk a little about what happened?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah. Well, Tom, he hit a much better shot and it flew on the green and stopped. I pushed mine. I think it was too much club. It's a new design back there where they fixed it up and it's pretty firm because of the base, and my ball rolled I would say maybe 15 yards over the green. I walked up there a few times just to see if I could bump it in there and actually I hit where I wanted to but it just was pretty firm, it rolled 30 feet by the hole. But I didn't hit a very good tee shot off that tee, I hit way too much club. I was trying to hit it easy from an elevated tee and I just flew it way too far.
Q. In looking at the scores so far, there doesn't really seem to be any sort of consistency in the sense of, I see Duffy was like par all through 10 and then really turned it on the back nine. You, on the other hand, a little bit of the opposite. Is there anything on the course that's setting up to say this is where you've got to make your move or is it all over the place and people will be bouncing up and down?
FRED COUPLES: No, I think you're going to make birdies all over the place. I don't know if there's any stretch of holes that I think are easy. You have to really shape shots all day long. You have to cut it on No. 2, you have to draw it on No. 3, No. 5, there's a lot of fade holes that suit my eye pretty well when you have a place in the fairway. On 18 I hit a bomb down there but I was in the rough. I hit a wedge, I hit it a lot farther than I ever thought I would, but that's what you're going to get out of this rough. You're going to hit jumpers. It'd have been a lot easier if I had hit from the fairway with a 9‑iron, even hitting a wedge I thought I could be a little aggressive and that's not going to happen if this course gets a little drier. When you're out there playing and you hit a good shot on the 1st hole or the 18th hole but there's no stretches where you go, okay, I think birdie, par, birdie somewhere to the stretch.
The par 5s for the longer hitters are holes you can reach, but they're very, I mean, you don't hit a good shot on No. 6 and you pull it down in the creek, you're going to make 5 or 6. No. 11, Tom and I were in the exact same spot, I think we hit the same club, it looked like he hit his pretty well and it came up a yard short in the water. I hit the same shot and I pulled mine maybe four yards further and it got in the bunker and I made birdie. I don't know if he made the putt there for par or not. Just a yard or two when you're being overaggressive can kill you here.
As the week goes on (inaudible) trying to do things that might turn into bogeys because of stupidity, you just can't do it. But today was the day where I felt like first day, go for a few things, and off the tee I hit some good drives and my second shots, I wouldn't say I was great with my irons at all but I made a few putts to make up for mediocre shots.
Q. A little broader question. This is shaping up to be a nice season for you between the Hall of Fame, you contended at the Masters, you've had some solid results here on the Tour. I was wondering if you can talk a little bit about your health and just overall state of mind this season.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, it's been a great year, but I would say golf was fair. I haven't played a whole lot. I did play well in Newport Beach and then at Augusta. As everyone knows, I was tied after two rounds. But the rest of it's been very exciting. Being the Presidents Cup stuff and got to go to the White House last week and then being inducted into the Hall of Fame and having a lot of people from Seattle and college go. It was truly fun.
Now it's a little more golf. I decided to play last week at Muirfield because I hadn't played much golf instead of going to Des Moines. I made the cut, I played with Tiger the first two days and had a great time. I got to talk to a few guys about the Presidents Cup, but really my goal was just to get some rounds in and come here with good golf shots because golf‑wise I haven't really had a chance at winning any senior event. I think I've only played in four of them and then three regular Tour events, and now it's going to become all Champions Tour and I'm going to hopefully make a little bit of a run.
But this will be, golf‑wise, I think this year is always important but there's more going on. The Presidents Cup starts and I want our team to play well and be ready. For me personally, it's great to be captain but I haven't hit any shots and I have great assistants in Jay and David, so I hope not to make too many mistakes and step on anyone's toes. But the rest of the year, there's a lot of golf to be played, we have majors coming up. And like I say, I feel like all of us really are very happy to be here. This is a great course for us. Hopefully we'll be here a long time because this is a major golf course.
Q. Talk about, first of all, how was that putting green at the White House?
FRED COUPLES: Putting green was okay. Small and fun to be around. President Obama was busy so he didn't come out, but we went out and took some pictures and hung out there for maybe a half hour.
Q. Talk a little bit about, say, the transition, if there is such, in going from the regular Tour as you did last week to this event.
FRED COUPLES: You know, that's a good question. People always think there's ‑‑ I mean, the transition is it's a tough thing to do. I know Corey and Tom played and I think David Frost at Colonial, they all played what I considered to be pretty good golf. But when you miss the cut by a stroke or so, it's disappointing.
For me, I went to Memorial, I made the cut, but at the end of the week I think I beat 20 people and I actually played okay. So the transition really is unless you play really, really well, you're going to be nonfactors in these events, but they're still fun to go play every now and then. So for me, Riviera, which I played earlier in the year, one of my all‑time favorite courses, I played okay there. And Memorial I think is getting to the point where it's just pretty long and pretty hard to play four days in a row. One of those days I'm going to have some kind of mediocre round and that was on Sunday, I wasn't very good.
Q. Talk a little bit, I think last week you had the distinction of beating the No. 1 and No. 2 guys in the world. Was that you or them or just the nature of the game?
FRED COUPLES: Well, for me, I played with Tiger so I got to see it. Rory, I don't know how he was playing. Tiger played pretty well, he just didn't make any putts on Saturday. For him it was horrific golf and probably not much fun and it doesn't happen but once every few years. But he was in a great mood and he actually played pretty well. I mean, I beat them, but I think they beat themselves. I really didn't beat them. I don't think they're too worried about me shooting 75 and 7 a couple of those rounds when they have their worst probably rounds of the year. But it was fun for me to play with Tiger.
Q. Playing with Tiger in that horrific round, you're friends. Do you say anything to him going through that?
FRED COUPLES: Well, he was playing in front of me on Saturday but we talked a little bit after. He just laughed and said oh, man, have a good Sunday and I'm just going to play and work on a few things. His caddie and (inaudible) I don't know I've known him for over 20 years (inaudible), but he knows what to work on, he'll be ready for Merion and he'll go and play really, really well.
Q. Maybe name the five things you like about Birmingham and being in this tournament.
FRED COUPLES: One would be Shoal Creek, two would be ‑‑ well, Shoal Creek is a major. Two would be it's usually pretty hot. Three, we get great crowds here. Four obviously would be the food; I think each night we try and go to what I consider little teeny spots. I don't venture out with too many sport coats and two hour meals. Five, I have some pretty good friends that live here that are members of the course I play out in Palm Springs. So I stayed with Mr. Ripps one year; not this year because he's only here for a couple days, but I think there's pretty good friends there. So that would be a pretty quick fast five.
Q. Okay. (Inaudible) why would you think, this is a softball question, that Tiger Woods win another major or even the record ‑‑
FRED COUPLES: I didn't catch the first part, why do I think he will?
Q. Why do you think he will?
FRED COUPLES: Well, he's the No. 1 player in the world. He had a couple years there where he was slow but he was still contending in a couple majors, and I think at that time when he did contend there was a lot of pressure to win and then on his game, and now I think he's a little more freewheeling and winning. And for him, if he can win other tournaments, he can win majors. It's very hard for someone to say, well, I won at Bay Hill and I won at San Diego and now I'm in contention and I'll win the U.S. Open. He's won four times so now he's in this winning mode. Is he going to win at Merion? I don't know. He's the favorite. Is he going to be the favorite at the British Open? He's going to be the favorite. Those are pretty good odds when you're the favorite every single time you play. Now he's just got to go out and do it. I like the way he plays. There's a lot of other guys that play very well. I don't know anything about Merion, so I don't know who it suits or how anyone's 's going to play, but I know Tiger will be ready. Like I say, he's the No. 1 player in the world.
Q. (Question about naysayers.)
FRED COUPLES: Where, at Memorial?
FRED COUPLES: Well, people say whatever they want to say. If you start paying attention to that, you've got some serious golf problems because one round doesn't make a year. He's fine, better than fine.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Thanks very much.
FRED COUPLES: Thanks guys.