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The Tour Report

February 15 2012

3:32 PM

Captain Couples on his men

Interview: Fred Couples

The two-time winner of the Northern Trust Open discusses what he calls his favorite stop on TOUR.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- For Fred Couples, serving as Captain of the last two U.S. Presidents Cup teams has been "more fun than playing."

He loved watching the teams win, as well as developing friendships, by text and in person, with his players. So if the call comes for Muirfield Village in 2013, you can expect Couples to say yes to a third stint at the helm.

"It's coming up quickly, so to be honest, I've talked to (PGA TOUR Commissioner) Tim (Finchem) after the tournament, and I've talked to a couple other guys at the TOUR," Couples said. "I think I have a very good shot of it, and I would love to do it again, sure."

Couples, who is playing at Riviera this week for the 30th time in the Northern Trust Open, was at his elder-statesman best on Wednesday during a pre-tournament interview, too. Here are some of his more interesting comments.

ON RIVIERA: It is my favorite tournament. Everyone talks about how great a course it is, and I just always liked it from the day I got here. 30 years later, I'm much older, but I still feel like I can play here. And last year I had a great shot at winning, actually, on Sunday. I birdied the first three holes and then played very poorly from then on in, but still managed to have a great week, and I look forward to the same thing this week.

ON LUKE DONALD AND THE MAJORS: His game doesn't need any help. He's the No. 1 player because he plays very consistent and wins. Because he hasn't won a major I don't think throws anything off. He plays well every week. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a shot at winning here. I don't know how much he's played, but this is a perfect course for long hitters and short hitters. But he's just a great all-around player. I love the way he plays, and if I could say anything to him, just keep playing, and the way you play you'll be No. 1, and someday you'll win a major."

ON PHIL MICKELSON: "The guy is a true champ. I'm older than him, but I look back and I think that he's one of the all-time great players that I've seen play because of the way he plays. It's very exciting golf, but at the same time it's great golf. And we pick on him because maybe he's three-putted from 5 feet before. But when you do that, you're not scared; he's not scared at all. He's not a guy to back off, and when you play that way, you're going to have those little things happen. I don't think you can really compare him to any other players, because a lot of guys get timid when they fail, and I think he gets stronger and plays better, which I think is a great attribute for his game.
ON TIGER WOODS' 75 ON SUNDAY: "He's another guy that as he keeps telling everyone he needs more reps, then he needs more reps, because it's a pretty easy game when you're winning seven or eight times in a year. I'll be honest with you. It didn't seem to be too difficult. And I think now he's working, he's getting healthy, and I think he's disappointed, but I don't think he feels like he can't close a tournament because he got beat by Phil or beat himself. But I think he's on the right track."

ON THE CHAMPIONS DINNER AT THE MASTERS: "I usually sit next to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and Ray Floyd, and what a night for me. So there's a lot of stories told. But it's usually very quiet and a nice night. And again, the food, I know when Phil won, he had pints of Häagen Dasz for everybody -- quarts for him. He would have a second. That makes it so special. You kind of hear what's going to come out, but then for dessert they come out with these trays of vanilla pints of Häagen Dasz and you go, wow, nice move there."