Toshiba Classic interview: Fred Couples

March 15, 2013

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Fred, you go out in 30 and shoot 34 in the back for 64 to start the 2013 Toshiba Classic. Just a few opening comments about your day today. A little cool out there all day.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, that was part of it, but I hit the ball solid and a made a mile of putts obviously. I'm sure David did, too. Just one of those rounds where I felt like, honestly, if you could shoot 67 or 68, it was a really good round. And I just happened to make a lot more putts than I was expecting. I've been working on my putting and short game instead of banging balls all the time and I think today it paid off. But I have a long way to go. I made a lot of putts, which is fun.

PHIL STAMBAUGH: Can you just take us through the round?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah. I hit two good shots on No. 1 to about 10 feet and made it. The par 5, I hit a drive and an iron a couple yards over the green, I chipped down to about a foot and made birdie. On 6, I did make about a 15 footer for par. And then 7, I hit a big drive down there and kind of fluffed it, a 50 yard shot, on the front edge and made about a 50 footer. And then 7, I hit a good 3 iron to about 15 feet, made it. Maybe I'm mixing the holes up. 7, I made a 50 footer. 8, on the par 3, I hit a 3 iron. No. 9, I hit a good drive and a 9 iron to about 18 feet and made it. Really only bad drive on No. 10, I put it in a bad spot and I hit an iron through the green, had a little flip shot and ended up missing about a six footer for par. Then turned around on 11, made about a 15 footer for birdie. The par 5, I hit a good drive and a 3 iron and two putted from about 30 feet. And 18, I got in front of the green and chipped it 25 feet by and made it for birdie.

Q. Fred, this is the kind of weather that kind of tightens people's bodies up a little bit. Did you have any issues?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I'm tight. I've said this almost every time, I'm tight all the time. I don't want to say it's an advantage, I don't like feeling really cold and tight because I just came from the desert where it was 90 degrees and I practiced for a few days. I was never really loose. It was hot, but this is for me fine, great weather.

Q. You said you were practicing on your short game. Was there something specific you were working on?

FRED COUPLES: Well, to be honest, I played maybe four tournaments since Seattle when I hurt myself, so I've not practiced and I just thought, you know, if I bang balls for four or five days, am I going to shoot a better score if I start to hit the ball, or my short game am I going to rely on. So down there I just decided to play one day and practice, and the next day not so much putt but chipping and getting used to speed of the greens. I was trying to hit some shots that particularly would be for Augusta. Here, you've got some delicate little pitches here, but more or less I was out on Madison, they're big greens, really fast with a lot of roll and that's kind of what I was doing, but just the feel of it. Again, I've played so little golf and I just need to keep playing. I don't expect to shoot 64 tomorrow, but I know if I play well and putt well, I'm going to have a nice round.

Q. What do you think about the crowds today?

FRED COUPLES: This is one of my favorite tournaments, you know. I think this is the third year playing, they have great crowds. A lot of people come out and support this event. It's on a golf course that's real small and tight and the people are kind of right on top of you, especially around No. 9, obviously 17 and 18. So for us it's a great event.

Q. Were you cool with being introduced from Newport Beach?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I said that a couple years ago when I played here. The guy said, Where do you want to be from? I said Newport Beach. And I knew the guy. I lived here in mid to late '80s for about five or six years, so I said it. He says it every year now.

Q. What did you think the firmness of the greens and the poa out there? Looked like the balls were taking some pretty big bounces?

FRED COUPLES: Like I said, I putted really, really well today. You don't expect to do that. I made a couple four and five footers, one for birdie, and I made a par putt on I guess 13 and 14. Is that the par 3, 13? I made a nice little par putt there, so that was nice. But to get to the firmness of the green, you'd think in the fog and if the sun was to come out and not much tomorrow, they're going to be brick hard, which for me, I like. I like the harder the course. I think there were some guys that were 4 and 3 under. Those are really good rounds. The greens are brick hard. It was hard to get the ball close. Like I said, I don't usually putt like this. If you take away three of those putts, I've got a really, really nice round; instead, I had a great round.

Q. When was the last time you putted this well?

FRED COUPLES: Like today? I can't remember. I mean, to make putts of 20 feet, four of them, I don't even remember. I putted well last year at Augusta, even on the weekend. I didn't play as well, but on Thursday and Friday I putted really, really well. But these greens, they're not bad, but you know, poa annua, they get a little bumpy. The ball's wiggling down. Mine were for some reason going right in. I hope tomorrow I can get the speed and putt the same. I'm sure you can't go around making putts like that, but they're really firm, rock hard.

Q. Last thing for you, you said you're going to just keep on playing. Are you going to play all the way through Augusta?

FRED COUPLES: I'm going to play Mississippi, then I have two weeks off, then I'll play Augusta. But then there's a little bit of a stretch where I would like to play a little bit, I don't know where they are. PGA and the Open, the TPC, right? They're all bunched up.

Q. (Inaudible)

FRED COUPLES: It's two weeks before, yeah, I can't go. It's too much. I'm going to play here and Mississippi. There's no way I could play. I mean, that would be too much. I'm going to miss it. I think the week before San Antonio?

Q. Right.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I'm not going there. But I'll be at home. And Paul, my teacher's coming in for five days so I'm going to get plenty of practice and get to Augusta. I'm getting in there Saturday, so I'm going to go to the Final Four. Not giving you my routine, but I'm excited for the first time ever to go to Augusta early. Then I'm going to go back and play the course Sunday, then I'm going to play Monday early in the morning and then take my time and go back for the Monday night's game, so it will be a fun week.