Couples Ready for 'Hometown' Tournament


Fred Couples is back in his hometown of Seattle for this week's Boeing Classic. The Champions Tour event starts Friday at TPC of Snoqualmie Ridge, east of the Emerald City.

Couples is coming into the $2 million Champions Tour event on a high note. The 51-year-old, who attended O'Dea High School in Seattle and learned the game at Jefferson Park Golf Course near his Beacon Hill home as a youngster, won last week's Senior Players Championship for his first major title on the over-50 circuit.

After four wins in his rookie season last year on the Champions Tour, the win at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., was his first this season. Couples has been inactive much of the year due to his chronically bad back, but a treatment in Germany six weeks ago has allowed him to swing pain-free for the first time in months.

After a practice round Thursday, Couples met with reporters and discussed his health, the recent win and what it means to come back to Seattle. Here's what he told the media during a Q&A.

MODERATOR: We welcome Fred Couples into the interview room. Fred, coming back to your hometown to play fresh off your victory, first senior major championship at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Last year you finished third here. Just a couple general thoughts about coming back to your hometown to play.

FRED COUPLES: Well, yeah, I'm always excited to come back, as I've said a million times. There haven't been a whole lot of tournaments in Seattle, and it's just very nice to be up here. Michelle does a great job, and Boeing is a huge sponsor for us. But for me personally I leave all that aside; it's just fun to -- I don't get to see my family much. For instance, today I play at 1:30 so I'll be done at I'm guessing 7:00, and then drive back to -- staying with a buddy, be back there by 8:00, and then you go to bed and do it again tomorrow. So it's a busy week, but it's a fun week.

I just think it's unique to play in your hometown, especially when in my 30 years on Tour, I think we've had a PGA -- Craig Parry won, whatever that was called, the American Express, and I think that's it. And then last year the -- well, and that's why we had it, so I could come home for a week. But there are so many great courses up here, but I think after the U.S. Open last year and the support that the tournament got and all the players got, hopefully we can come back here and maybe play a Senior PGA or U.S. Open here pretty soon before I'm done.

MODERATOR: Can you sort of recap last week's victory?

FRED COUPLES: Well, I beat the guy who just walked in sitting in the chair over there. You know, someone asked me -- I went to Minnesota, real quick, and I had almost three months off, and I felt pretty good about my game, I was just really rusty around the greens. And as John will tell you in a few minutes, I've played Westchester, I think, 24 years now, so I knew that was a huge help. Did I think I was going to win flying there? No, but I knew I was hitting the ball pretty well, and the first couple days I played extremely well and got in the lead and then did fine on Saturday.

And then Sunday was difficult for all three of us. We were all kind of battling, not because John is sitting there, I said it there, he probably played better, Peter Senior maybe played better, but I did have a one-shot lead going in there, and that's what I needed. And then in the playoff it's just pot luck. And I felt like in all that wind we were kind of -- no one did anything wrong, but it was really a rush-rush. Every hole we played was really fast, which was good. There was not a whole lot of time to get nervous, and we both had chances, and I hit a good shot in the third playoff hole.

Q. Talk about, your hip was in pain. You sounded like an NFL player.

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, well, the first -- we had that delay, and I think John will tell you that it was really freezing in the clubhouse, and I laid on the ground because I thought that would be the best thing. First I stood around for a while. I do not sit down. Then I laid on the ground, and when I got up, I felt okay. And then when I got to the range, I knew I wasn't certainly feeling as good, but that's part of the deal. I mean, for me I can play 36 holes, but once I stop, I can't play another hole.

So that rain delay was a little bit of a hindrance, and I went out and the first shot I hit was a pull-hook left of the green, nothing horrible, but I made bogey. Then the next hole I kind of pulled it in the bunker and chopped it around. And then I drove it fairly well, I just didn't hit many good shots off the ground. You know, and then I took some medicine, and it kind of started helping a little bit. If I hit anything, I hit my drives pretty well, and I putted okay. But I didn't feel very good. And now I feel okay. I'm stiff, but I feel okay. I think it was just everything, you know, just the hour and a half sitting there, or laying there, and maybe the way I got up or the way I laid down. I don't really know. But my back feels pretty good.

Q. Any special treatment this week?

FRED COUPLES: No, I just flew here and relaxed all day Tuesday, and then like I say, went out and played all day yesterday just to play, just to -- it would be better to -- I walked or stood on the back of the cart most of the holes. It's a hard walking course. But I feel pretty good.

Q. So the hip hasn't bothered you since that day?

FRED COUPLES: You know, it bothered me a little Monday, but I put some stuff on it, and I've been living on these pills for six weeks now, and I think it kind of helps everything. But I feel fine, I really do. It was really the first hour, and then I kind of warmed up a little bit. It was hot, started to sweat. But I don't know if I would have not gone to the locker room, if I would have stayed outside or stood if I would have been better, I don't really know, but it wasn't horrible. I hit the ball, I just didn't hit it as sharp, and believe me, the first eight holes I wasn't like knocking down the flags. I did hit a couple really good shots.

But it was windy and it played hard. I think the three of us shot 70, 70, 71. So when you're trying to win a big event, that wasn't horrible in that weather. There were a lot of better scores shot. But I thought we all kind of battled pretty well. Even Peter Senior had putts to stay in the lead or get in the lead, and John and I made one more shot than Peter.

Q. It was obviously a major. Is this week just as important to you as a major?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I mean, this is a big -- I had a blast last year at Sahalee, and then how lucky to come back three weeks later, because I said the other day, that was the most fun I ever had playing. I played really well, which helped; lost to Langer, and then you immediately take off. Coming back, it was kind of fun to come back to regroup about how great of an event Sahalee was and then start another week here and have family and friends come out and watch. Yeah, this is a big, fun tournament. I mean, I want to do really, really well. I want to be able to talk to everybody out there, and you know, it's not an easy course. You've got to be very sharp. I've heard it's in awesome shape. I always look forward to playing at home, but in this tournament, for a long time.

Q. I don't want to go into detail on your back issues in Germany, but I'm curious about your emotions going into it and coming out of it. Trepidation going in?

FRED COUPLES: You mean there?

Q. Yeah, it was experimental, right?

FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I flew over there, I got in Sunday.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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