Fred Couples en route to a closing 1-under 71 on Sunday (Redington/Getty Images)
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. – For Fred Couples, it was one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda weeks.
Two steps forward, three back. Opening 68, third-round 77. A closing birdie -- with the requisite Freddie roar -- on the 72nd hole.
Line up his scorecards for four days and it’s a collage of circles (birdies), squares (bogeys), double squares (double and triple bogeys).
Take away that 77, and the 1992 Masters champ would have been in Sunday's mix for another Green Jacket. Instead, the man who is the essence of cool had to settle for a couple of big putts, a closing 71 and, just maybe at the end of the day, another top 10.
"I played well today," Couples said. "I really didn't do much. I birdied 15 and 18 to get to 1‑under.
"I played with Jason (Dufner), we didn't make any putts and we were both right around the hole. But I had a good time. He's a great player and I played last year Saturday and Sunday with him and it's the same thing as last year, I played terrible on Saturday and then yesterday the finish was, I just told him there, I don't know if I've ever really finished like that in a tournament in my life, the way some of these shots I hit. I couldn't even chip balls out of the trees with any feel.
"But it is what it is and I was not in a great mood yesterday, because if I just would have finished halfway, I could have come out today with a shot at winning. And today was just really another fun day at Augusta."
Couples is a staple here. Even his so-so weeks seemed to be filled with a bit of excitement. Take this week. He opened with a 68 and had everyone wondering -- once again -- could Freddie, at 53, be a factor? After all, the previous three years, he has finished sixth, T-15 and T-12.
"Well, I can play the course," Couples said. "So even yesterday wasn't great, I bogeyed 14 with a wedge, I laid up on 16 and I couldn't even roll it under the trees. I bogeyed there and made a 7 there. If I just do what's normal for everybody, maybe I play those holes 2‑over and I'm 3‑under instead of even par. But it didn't happen that way. ...
"I know how to play the course. I just played for about 40 minutes like a 7 handicap."