April 11 2013
Fred Couples' 68 ties for the second lowest opening round in his Masters career. (How/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Fred Couples in the mix at the Masters. No surprise there -- even though he is 53 years old.
Couples shot a 4-under 68 in Thursday's first round and is tied for fourth with five other players, two shots behind co-leaders Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman.
Couples actually reached 5 under with a birdie at 17 but gave the stroke back with a bogey at the last. Even so, it was a good start for the 1992 Masters champ, who now plays primarily on the Champions Tour but will play occasionally on the PGA TOUR, including the Masters.
"I'm going to play this tournament until I really don't think I can win," Couples said, echoing a statement made by another veteran Masters champ Vijay Singh.
A year ago, Couples was the second-round co-leader with Jason Dufner before falling back on the weekend. Since turning 50, he has finished sixth (2010), T-15 (2011) and T-12 (2012) and has only missed the cut twice in 28 previous Masters starts.
"I know how to play this course," he said. "... This is a good spot for me. The people get me fired up and they yell hard and they're everywhere."
Couples knows that remaining long off the tee allows him to compete with the younger players at Augusta National. On Thursday, he averaged 301 yards in driving distance -- one of 32 players in the 93-man field who averaged 300 or more yards off the tee. Tiger Woods' average was just a half-yard longer than Couples' average.
"I used my length," Couples said of Thursday's 68, "and tomorrow if I can come out and feel good and pound my driver, it will make tomorrow seem easier too."