What they said: Fred Couples

October 31, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

DAVE SENKO: Fred, thanks for joining us and welcome back. You've had a couple of months off and maybe just get a start and catch us up on the state of your health right now and maybe talk about, you had a chance to see the course today, and we will get some questions.

FRED COUPLES: Well, the state of my health is, I'm playing. I practiced yesterday for the first time since Seattle. I don't even know think I gripped a club since then. I didn't really want to play golf, and I thought the rest would help, and then I decided I would come here and the weather is perfect. And I felt like this could be a little kick just to start playing and hitting balls and getting back in the golf, and I can take a little time off in November, but play a little bit.

To be honest with you, I actually played pretty well today which was surprising. I love the course. I think it's a great choice. If we can't get to Harding Park, this is a very nice spot. I believe they used to have a tournament here. Maybe a handful of guys that played it. I don't know when it stopped or how many guys played it. But, for me, I really think the course is nice. Obviously 85 degrees, not much wind, makes any golf course play easy. I was in the rocks a few times and got out of the it okay. I'm a little rusty, and we'll just see how it goes. But everyone wants to play well. But for me personally, after eight weeks off, or whatever the number was, it's nice just to be out walking around. At this time I feel like I will be fine tomorrow and see if I can play four rounds.

DAVE SENKO: Had you played here before??

FRED COUPLES: No, I've never been up here. I lived down the road for a year, but never played here. It's unbelievable shape. It's a nice course.

DAVE SENKO: Questions??

Q. Just out of curiosity, Fred, when did you live here? What year??

FRED COUPLES: I lived at Silver Leaf for a year, year and a half, maybe four years ago.

Q. Can you talk about what your schedule looks like for 2013. I think you played nine tournaments this year between PGA and Champions Tour, what will it be like going forward??

FRED COUPLES: You know I would like to say it's going to be a normal year, but I really don't have any answer for you. I'm not going to guess. But I'm planning on playing. This year, if I didn't really, really hurt myself I probably could have got through Seattle and taken some time off. I've played one in North Carolina and certainly would have gone to San Antonio. So I would have picked up close to normal.

But next year I can't really tell you. But I'm planning on going to Mitsubishi and playing the first tournament and working my way through Augusta and seeing what happens. But I don't know.

Q. I watched you testing drivers yesterday on the range, can you talk a little bit about that process for people that don't know that much about it. It looked like you were hitting three of them and tweaking with the wrenches and did you find something??

FRED COUPLES: Yes, I found my old one in the trunk. I took one of them out today, and actually hit a very nice drive on 10, which is my first hole. Then not so good on the next two, and then I just, you know, A, I haven't played in two months. B, I don't really think it's a good idea, but I did hit it very nice off the 10th tee and I thought I will keep giving this a shot.

The process, again, everyone, I like to find them pretty quickly. I cannot bang balls for two hours and say, this is the right one, because I just can't hit that many drivers. So yesterday, I probably hit 10 with each one, and that was way too many, so I probably hit 30 drives. Normally on a range I might hit 10. So that was a little bit of a major process. But, you know, when I go on the course I like to hit them well. I don't know how I hit them on the range. There is a feel, if you are hitting them solid, and they look pretty nice, then you take it on the golf course. If you can play nine holes with it, then I think you're off and running. But in those nine holes, if you don't hit it where you are looking, I feel like I go right back to my old one or try to find another one.

Q. You're renown for your laid-back way of being. And I am wondering what's going on underneath all of that while you're out playing under the gun? How do you to manage to remain so laconic?

FRED COUPLES: I think it's just how I've always been. You know, the first tee on Thursday, you should be fairly relaxed. But you are kind of edgy to get going. For me, personally, I think there is always shots that are kind of nerve racking. If you are going over water with a par 5, or even a par 4, or a tough pin placement, you kind of pay attention to it.

You know, I think when you're trying to close off a really good round, or a Saturday round to be near the lead, or keep the lead, you know, I get just as nervous or edgy with anybody. But I don't change. I don't play faster or not think straight. But I don't pull off all of the shots, otherwise I would have 100 victories and a bunch of Majors.

But at the same time, you know, I have always chosen to be very relaxed and, you know, I've told a lot of people when you have nine holes to go, and you are trying to win any golf tournament, you can look relaxed. It's not very difficult. And then when you see other people, you know, you can just see younger players that they are doing things a little differently because it is pretty new to them. It's not easy. Winning a golf tournament is not the easiest thing to do.

Q. Forgive me for bringing this up, I'm wondering if the Ryder Cup experience, what happened this summer is still with you, if you've gotten over it, and what did you learn since you will be a President's Cup captain for a third time? Is there anything about what happened at the Ryder Cup that will help you with The Presidents Cup next year??

FRED COUPLES: Well, I've gotten over it. It took me a while. It was still shocking. I felt like Davis Love did a phenomenal job and all of the players did an phenomenal job. They couldn't really get any momentum on Sunday. Obviously, you all know, so even the matches that looked like were in our favor didn't end up that way. And the ones that weren't stayed that way. And I think when you get that kind of pressure and everyone keeps saying, well, this guy is going to get a half a point, which will be huge, and then this guy is certainly going to get a half a point, and then they both lose 16, 17 and 18, or however it was, and you start getting no points, then it gets pretty edgy.

So did I learn anything that's going to help me in The Presidents Cup? Sure, Jason Dufner was a phenomenal player. I love the guy. I have a good time with him. I think some of the other guys that play, the Matt Kuchars, who have been in the Ryder Cup before, and The Presidents Cup, another year for those guys, they can start to become team leaders.

I still expect Jim Furyk to be on the team next year. The Phil Mickelsons and Steve Strickers, because they are getting older every year obviously, but there are still talented and they play well every year. But as far as the younger guys, I think it would just be fun to have them on the team. I would love to have this exact team for The Presidents Cup.

Q. Langer and Lehman are leading, or the Top 2 in the Schwab Cup race, they have won this the last couple of years. You have been playing with both of them for 25 years. Do you feel they are playing as well now as they've ever played??

FRED COUPLES: Yes, I think the only distraction would be when I go home people say, how does everyone play? And I name maybe 8 guys, 7 guys that play extremely good golf. It's one of those things where every now and then, we show up, and we play in a regular tournament or a Major and we do pretty well. I don't think that's hard to do, really, because they're such good players.

But I think it would be hard for one of us to say, you know, I'm going to go play the PGA TOUR next year and I am not going to play the Champions Tour. Because you work with confidence. So if Tom Lehman and Langer aren't as confident now as they ever were then something is wrong because really they've won between them, at least 10 times, between those two, or 8 to 10 times. So that's a third of the tournaments on the Senior Tour. So confidence is a huge thing. But I really do think when you watch them play they play as well as they did when they were 35 years old. I honestly believe that. I just think if you took us out there, and we played 25 PGA TOUR events, you would get to struggling because the courses are maybe too long.

Q. You are going to be inducted in the Hall of Fame next May. A two-part question. How surprised, or were you surprised by that, and your reaction to it??

FRED COUPLES: Well, I think it's surprising. I think Phil Mickelson belongs in the Hall of Fame but maybe when they chose his name at his age it was surprising. But, you know, I came in in a good year. There weren't enough votes for any other guys so I got in there. You know what's really nice is Ken Venturi is going in also. And Jim Nantz is going to induct myself, and I believe Ken Venturi, so that will be a real honor and a treatment. I mean it's surprising. But I don't think it's surprising like, oh my God, I got in there. I have been on TOUR a long time. I think when people talk about people in the Hall of Fame they are all great players. I don't believe that I'm a great player, but I'm a darn good player, and I have been around for a long time. I think when people vote, if it came down to this guy or that guy, more people gave me a vote, or they didn't vote that I got just enough.

Q. Is the fact that you don't think of yourself as a great player more due to the fact because of the back you just haven't been able to play as much as you would have liked over the past 10 or 15 years??

FRED COUPLES: I'm a truist. I don't know what a great player is. I know there are a lot of them. But I would say on our TOUR, if you are looking around, you know, Ernie Els is a great player. He has won a lot of tournaments. He has won 3 Majors, I think. Phil Mickelson has played a long time, too. He has been Top-5 on the Money List a lot of years.

But I believe that golf is a little bit different than a lot of sports when you start talking about the Hall of Fame because we get to play for so long. If you look at football player who plays seven years and gets injured, and he was the best running back 5 of those years, is he an automatic lock for the Hall of Fame? Maybe not. But if you look at him you'd say he is a great player because he was great.

I also played 30 years. If you look at it that way, I won a tournament every other year. So that's not considered great golf. But a lot of it comes from just being around forever. I think I was just in the right spot.

Q. Do you ever do what the might have been if you had been healthy? Do you ever think about that??

FRED COUPLES: Well, I would like to think that it's more fun to be healthy. I like more sleep. In golf, to be quite honest, maybe not, you know, a lot of other things. I always look at it another way. There are guys who have wrist surgeries, thumb injuries. There is Anthony Kim. I don't even know who he Anthony Kim is. I have a bad back. I can somehow, with my swing, play around it. I can continue to play. And then every now and then it blows up like Seattle where I get away for a couple of months.

But I'm not really that person to look at it that way. I bet the Detroit Tigers every way you could in the World Series. I look back at that and say, wow, you're an idiot. But in golf, I don't look back too many times. There are tournaments that I've actually been doing very, very well in. My back has gone bad, which is very disappointing to put 36 holes of hard work and be leading and one would be playing with Nick Price in Charlotte, and I just told myself I'm going to finish no matter what I have to do. And I was leading after 45 holes and ended up shooting 40 then I think 75 on Sunday. But you get really frustrated, and you say, screw it, I'm going to finish if I have to crawl in. And when I hurt myself, then I just go away and I don't play because I don't really care to play golf in that state. But sometimes I do play when I'm not at my best, but I'm able to play and it still may help me for the next week. So it's worked out OK.

Q. So confidence is such a big part of the game, and I'm really fascinated by the fact that you think of yourself as a darn good player but not a great player. Still, do you find that gap between how you think of yourself and how most everybody else thinks of you? Does that impact on your confidence when you are playing?

FRED COUPLES: No, I mean when I play I think I have a lot of confidence in my game, not cockiness. Some people are normal and they get a little cocky, which I think you need to be. But I think when you come and play out here you know you have to play really, really good golf. You have to do that on the PGA TOUR also. But when you come here there is only so many guys that win. There are other guys that pop-up and win and it's the same on the regular TOUR.

But if you're really going to start out 2013, I don't know if Vijay is going to come play, let's say Vijay came out and plays, you would think he's going to get five wins. My first year, I believe, I won four times, and I took some time off in the middle of the year, and I didn't play as much as Langer, or some of these guys. That's irrelevant. I never played as much as Langer when I was on the regular TOUR. So that's a meaningless stat. But someone like Vijay, who is going to come out and play, you would have to play really, really good golf. And if you played, and he won, and you finished second, then you would say you played pretty good. That's how I look at this Tour.

On the regular TOUR when I played, you could be leading after 54 holes and some guy could shoot 65 on Sunday and come and beat you and still play well. Out here, you have to play well every single round. I know you do on every Tour you play. But out here you could really shoot low numbers and get a lot of confidence. So guys were saying last week 8-under par won, I think, or whatever won in San Antonio, I think it was 23-under par. Kenny Perry said, how did you shoot? I said, Kenny, I it was calm. It was dry. The ball was going a mile and every putt I made was going in the hole. But a totally different week. It was 40 degrees and blowing. I wasn't there. If it blows here tomorrow, and it gets cooler like it can, 2- or 3-under would be a hell of a score. But if it's calm, I think there be a lot of 5 and 6-unders, you know, four or five of them in the round.

Q. It's supposed to be good??

FRED COUPLES: That's why I'm here. 85 degrees is hard to beat.

Thanks you guys.