PGA TOUR players revel in Fred Couples' incredible win
October 18, 2022
By Jeff Babineau , PGATOUR.COM
- October 18, 2022
Fred Couples shoots 12-under 60 in Round 3 of SAS Championship
RIDGELAND, S.C. – Fred Couples rolled in practically every putt that he stood over on Sunday at the PGA TOUR Champions' SAS Championship, making a dozen birdies, shooting 12-under 60 and winning for the first time in more than five years.
And shortly after all those putts went down, soon all the texts began rolling in, too. It wasn’t lost on Couples’ huge roster of PGA TOUR buddies that Couples, now 63, had gone a long time between victories. Seeing Captain Cool win again ... well, it was very special. Pretty cool.
“I texted him after the tournament and he told me, ‘Nobody putts like me, Kiz,’” Kevin Kisner said with a loud laugh at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina on Tuesday morning. Kisner was one of 12 U.S. players who competed under Couples (serving as an assistant under Captain Davis Love III) in a winning effort at last month’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.
Couples made only eight PGA TOUR Champions starts in 2022 and is eligible for the Charles Schwab Playoffs, though he won’t be participating. Sunday he just got on one of those rolls. He was making a mess of the 10th hole but made a 30-footer to salvage par. Standing on the 12th tee in a tight tournament, he simply took over, making birdies on his final seven holes. He collected his 14th PGA TOUR Champions title, having won 15 times on the PGA TOUR.
Rickie Fowler, a runner-up at last week’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, said he was climbing on the players’ charter flight to return home from Japan Monday morning when he saw what Couples had done. It brought an instant smile to his face.
“I didn’t get to see it, but saw some highlights this morning, when I was working out in the trailer,” Fowler said at Congaree Golf Club, where he will be playing this week. “If you birdie the last seven and you’re close, it’s pretty much hard not to win. So that’s pretty cool. Like catching lightning in a bottle, and you run with it.”
Justin Thomas wasn't watching shot-by-shot; he planned his day around the Buffalo Bills-Kansas City Chiefs football matchup late Sunday afternoon. But Thomas has long been close with Couples; the two have played Masters practice rounds that include Tiger Woods, and the trio maintains a text thread.
As Couples was making his Sunday charge at Prestonwood CC, Woods called Thomas to ask if he was watching. Thomas at first thought he was referencing the football game. When he got up to speed on Couples' historic charge, he was quite impressed, but not surprised.
"No offense to Fred, love him to death, but he was going to win," Thomas said. "I was more interested in watching the football game. So I turned it on and watched him stripe it off 18 tee, stiff an iron shot and make the putt.
"Talked to him some after. He joked this is the best putting week of his life. We kept saying to him, 'You keep playing like that, you'll be just fine at the Masters next year, and you'll be able to start playing TOUR events again.'
"He's the best. He's so fun to be around and just joke with. It's pretty cool to do what he did at what, 63 years old? I should say 63 years young. We're all happy for him."
Billy Horschel said one of the most important perks to him making his first U.S. Presidents Cup team last month was that he would be spending time around Couples. On his path to the PGA TOUR, Horschel said he looked up to Couples, trying to glean things that he could implement into his own game. He and Couples were cordial when they’d see each other at events, but until Quail Hollow, they never had spent quality time with one another.
“Freddie is a great guy, a fun guy to be around,” Horschel said. “He obviously gives this ‘cool’ persona, and it looks like everything is always ‘chill,’ but man, he’s got a massive fire that burns. He didn’t want to lose (at the Presidents Cup).
“To see him like that, I loved it. I sent him a text after he won: ‘Not bad playing for someone your age. That was impressive. Great win.’”
On the range at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina, that was the sentiment. Good for Captain Cool, a winner again.