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Couples Thrilled with Latest Victory


Fred Couples closed with a 9-under 63 Sunday to win the Administaff Small Business Classic going away.

The seven-stroke victory, his fourth on his rookie year on the Champions Tour, had sentimental value as it came at The Woodlands CC Tournament Course near Houston, where Couples attended college.

The win bumped closed the gap between him and first-place Bernhard Langer in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Couples now has 2,625 points to Langer's 3,160. Russ Cochran is next closest in the standings, with 1,590 points.

After his round, Couples met with reporters and discussed his day.

MODERATOR: Okay, Fred. An exciting day here at the 2010 Administaff Small Business Classic. You win your fourth Champions Tour of the year. Something you never did on the PGA Tour. And I know it had to be special winning it in Houston where you won your last 15 titles. You shoot 29 on the back nine or 63, which is the low round since we moved here in 2008. Just an incredible run there on holes 11 through 14, and 29, 63. You earn 265 Schwab Cup points, so you move a little closer to Bernhard Langer. Just a couple thoughts about winning here in Houston.

FRED COUPLES: Wow, it was some day. You know, I played very, very well yesterday, like I said. And I just felt like I would play good today. And it was just a matter of at the time what I felt like Corey was going to shoot. And obviously playing with Mark Wiebe, too, who is a very, very solid and a great competitor. And so when we were out there, I assumed that one of us was going to win. I thought we had a big enough lead over whoever was behind us. And we all got off to a very good start. And to be honest with you, I have no explanation except that I hit the ball very, very well, and I made a lot of putts, and all that stuff added up to 63.

It was not -- you know, there wasn't a lot of stress, you know. I think the big turning point was obviously hitting a good shot on 13, and not just getting it on the green, but hitting a very good shot, and Corey probably hit his only bad drive of the day. It wasn't even that bad, it just went in the bunker, but it plugged up against the lip. I'm sure everyone saw that. He got out, but he was going to lay up in 3 anyway, and I whipped it up there 20 feet, made it for eagle and he made bogey. And the next hole I hit a very good shot, and he made another bogey. I think I was five ahead with five holes to play, and I felt pretty good about getting that in. So to win here where I won the Houston Open was remarkable. And then also I worked hard with Paul this week, Marchand, my teacher, on Tuesday, Wednesday.

And then he came out and worked with me on the range today. And a lot of good things clicked, and you know, I got it around very, very well every round and the first day after being off for I think my last round was really on Thursday of the TPC, whatever we're calling that. And I didn't play for however many days that is. And I was a little bit on edge, and it showed in the last couple days. I just felt much better on the course and kind of free-willed it. That doesn't mean I was going to shoot 16-under par in two rounds, but I did. And it was done by, you know, I hit the ball very, very well, and the putting was -- I think I've already said. The putting was crazy. I've never made that many putts.

MODERATOR: Can you just take us through the round and give us clubs and distances?

FRED COUPLES: Sure. Well, the first hole, I hit probably the best shot of the day was a 3-iron out of the bunker to about 20 feet and two-putted. The next hole, I hit a wedge, or sand wedge to a foot. Then on 6 I hit a great 3-wood to about 10 feet, made it for eagle. Then on 8 it was just a comedy of errors. I didn't hit a horrible shot. I hit it in a horrible spot and then of fluffed the chip short of the green, fluffed it again on, two-putted from 20 feet for a double.

MODERATOR: What did you hit off the tee?

FRED COUPLES: I hit a 4. And then it all started rolling. I hit a beautiful putt on 9 that really should have went in, and the same on 10. And then they all started going in. I made about a 2-footer for birdie on 11.

MODERATOR: What club?

FRED COUPLES: On 11, I hit a 9-iron, and No. 12 I hit a big drive and I had 60 yards, probably had like six feet of green to work with, and I played a semi-safe shot to about 15 feet behind the hole and made it. Then 13 I hit a 6-iron to 20 feet and made it for eagle. 14, I hit a 5-iron to about eight feet. And then 16, I hit a good shot just over the flag through the green about 30 feet and made it from on the fringe. And 18, I hit an 8-iron to about 20 feet and made it.

Q. Do you recall the last time you putted that well?

FRED COUPLES: Not really, no. I don't think -- no. I don't even know if I ever putted like that on the PGA Tour ever. I considered myself to be a pretty good putter. You know, then it got to where it wasn't as good when I got older. But I've never putted like I have this year. I mean I'm leading in putting. And there are a lot more people out there that putt better than I do. But it's just one of those things, you know. I think that I used to putt well when I played well, and there was a lot of confidence, and then once you get to those mid to late 40s, you don't play well that much. Every putt is important.

To be honest with you, out here every putt is important, but it's not the end of the world, because you're always -- you know, if you're a good player, you're always going to be up there. And you know, when my time comes, it could be next year, it could be two years from now where I start finishing 20 and 30 and 40th place every tournament out here I play in, it'll be because I'm older, I don't play as well, and I certainly stopped putting like I am now. But you know, it's not like you can't make a 15-foot putt, but I mean I made them yesterday and today like -- you know, the nice thing is is the ones that didn't go in kind of brazed the hole or looked like they were going to go in. And that's when you know you're putting well and you read the putts better and you do everything better. But I don't remember putting like this. I remember, you know, making a lot of putts on the regular Tour, but not like this.

Q. Posting a 63 with a double is not bad.

FRED COUPLES: No. You know, and when I get out there, it's not in a zone. It's just get to where I look at how I stand, not how many under I am that day. And when I was one behind, even, I wasn't saying, wow, I'm 5-under par, because that's not really a good thing to do because a couple times this year, and recently, I noticed I was 16-under par and Gary Hallberg was shooting 11-under par, and instead of saying I'm tied with Gary Hallberg, not, oh, my God, he's 11-under par, you know, I'm tied with him. And any time you're tied with someone, you can still beat them or get beat. And you know, at the Rock Barn, he beat me, and you know, I looked at it a little differently after that, but that was a great round he played. But today I was just playing against Mark and Corey and looking at the board and how we stood. And then once I got -- I knew I was putting for 9-under par on the last green. But if I was only one ahead, I would have been trying to two-putt and worrying about just two-putting it.

Q. You talked a little bit yesterday about the fact that, you know, Bernhard has played a lot more events than you will play out here. You just don't play that many. You are not playing next week, but you do -- well, even if he wins, I guess you have a shot at the Schwab Cup at Sonoma.

FRED COUPLES: Right.

Q. Does that -- I don't know -

FRED COUPLES: Well, I have to say it's important, but it's not important enough for me to -- I physically couldn't play next week. I mean I hate to say, I mean I'm drained. I would get a couple days off. I still have to play in the Wednesday Pro Am, the Thursday Pro Am. But the Schwab Cup, trust me, they're a great sponsor and it's a great event. I've had a great year. I've had way too many seconds. I needed another win in one of these majors for the double points and I'd be right there with him, and I lost to him playing with him on Sunday when he played great. And I lost to Tom Lehman in a playoff, and I didn't play in two of them, and I went through playing -- not feeling good, I played really bad at the TPC.

So besides the year, we've all played really well, he and I. And you know, I think if I still have a mathematical chance, I'm sure he's playing next week. He plays a lot of golf. He's always played a lot of golf, and I think that's what this Tour needs. And so for me next year, I will play a few more times. If you take away the six or seven times I played on the regular Tour and I only played three and I play four more out here, that will give me 18, 19 events. So that's more than enough for me to play and possibly win the Schwab Cup. But to say I want to play every week and win the Schwab Cup is not my goal, but to win it sure is, because it's a huge deal and it's going to take a minor miracle to do that. But like I said, I've finished second enough this year. I've had four wins, and the wins were great, but I don't even know how far I am behind him, but if I went to San Antonio, I would be a wreck, and then I wouldn't be very good at the Schwab Cup either.

MODERATOR: With double points in the last event, you've got a shot, regardless of what happens.

FRED COUPLES: Right.

Q. What were your expectations for the year? Are you surprised you won four times out here your rookie season, or is this about what you expected?

FRED COUPLES: Well, you know, nothing's about what you expect. I mean I think for me personally I knew I was going to come out here and play well. I just -- you know, you're at the right age. You're 50, and if you are playing good, you should do well. And you know, like I say, the tournaments I'd won, you know, I -- starting right out of the box losing to Tom Watson shooting -- I don't even know how many under I shot. I don't even want to guess, but it was in the 20s and I lost. And I started winning, and I was shooting great last rounds and beating guys that were going crazy. And today I knew playing against Corey that I'd have to shoot a very good round. And on these finishing holes, to be honest with you, I was glad I wasn't one or two ahead. I was glad I was four or five ahead. Anything can happen on 17 and 18.

But you know, I said earlier I didn't think I'd win that fast, and I won three pretty quickly and then kind of lost a few, but played well. And it's nice to win here, just to get that feeling again. But you know, I really don't look at a year. I go week to week. And if I was playing San Antonio, I wouldn't even have known what I did this week when I go there. I'm not -- you know, I know when I get on runs, but even when I played on the regular Tour and had my great years, I took each tournament stride for stride. You know, I didn't sit there -- I took a lot of time off, but I never said, wow, I've played really well so far this year, I'm going to take time off. I always take time off. And you can always do better. I wish I would have won more. Wish I would have won two or three more times this year. I had the shots to do it. But I still like it out here.

I'll be honest with you, I don't -- I don't thrive to win six, seven, eight, nine times. I think I can, to be honest with you. But that's not anyone's -- that's an unrealistic goal, unless you're Tiger Woods and you're winning five, six, seven, eight, nine every year. But to win four, I have a shot at winning five, and that's kind of my goal.

Q. I wanted ask you, Paul told me just a little while ago that you're using a piece of exercise equipment that's strengthening your abs and your upper legs. What's it called?

FRED COUPLES: I don't believe there is any name to it. He'd probably shoot me. It's a contraption. J.L. Lewis uses it, too. And I've only had it about a month. And it's just a thing -- there's a lot of things you can do, but for me right now you stand on it and you just turn your foot in, and it puts a little bit of minor strain on some muscles that he believes a lot of people don't use. And so as I get further, I'll start doing other things on it. But I don't know. I don't even know the name of it.

Q. Do you feel like it's helping you?

FRED COUPLES: I feel like anything helps, you know. I really do. I feel like Aleve helps. I feel like rest helps. I feel like Paul Marchand helping me swing, you know, where my back can take it helps. And he listens, because it would be easy for him to teach me to really go at it. And this week, you know, I told him not to, and we worked on something else, and I was able to do it. And you know, to be honest with you, I'm physically exhausted. I could have played another nine holes, but you know, it's just -- it's hard. I don't practice that much. And not like I hit a bunch of balls. But I mean, you know, to come in Tuesday -- and you know, that's another thing that I fell in a little trap, coming when you get in these double Pro Ams, you kind of just play on Wednesday and you kind of screw around and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I had him caddy for me Tuesday, and we worked on every shot, and I think I need to do that more out here. I really do. I think that I can play well enough, but I have to pay attention, you know, if I'm going to be out here, not to just kind of go through the motions because it's a Pro Am.

And this week has nothing to do with winning, but I know with Paul out there, you know, I was trying to work on every shot that I hit. When he was in Seattle, we did the same thing. And I played well in Seattle and at Pebble Beach, but I just need to last. So that's why I'm not playing next week. I would like to, but I can't do it.

MODERATOR: All right, well, thanks for coming out, you guys.

FRED COUPLES: Okay.

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