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Freddy Reflects on Senior Open Championship Victory
In his lengthy and highly successful career as a touring professional, during which he accumulated 55 victories worldwide, Fred Couples never won an Open Championship when he was a member of the PGA Tour.
He had nine top-10 finishes in the British Open, including two third-places and a pair of fourths. But it wasn't until Sunday that he finally reached the pinnacle of golf in the U.K., albeit in the Senior Open Championship, a major on the Champions Tour.
Regardless, the popular 52-year-old came through at the most crucial time with birdies on the final two holes at Turnberry to win the Senior Open - his second major on the over-50 circuit.
After accepting the champion's trophy and the $315,600 check that went to the winner, Couples met with reporters and discussed what the triumph means to him. Here's what "Boom-Boom" had to tell reporters.
MODERATOR: Congratulations, your first senior Open Championship and you've come away with the title. Take us through what was a compelling day.
FRED COUPLES: It was obviously a very fun day, but being paired with Bernhard, you've got to play great and for a long time there, we were neck and neck, and obviously Gary Hallberg made a very nice, strong finish. But for me I felt like I was hitting the ball very strong, very solid and really lucky that it didn't rain. I'm not very good in the rain. I don't wear a golf glove. I had two gloves in the bag that were all weather gloves and I was scared to death to ever put those on.
And once it didn't rain, I felt very lucky to be out there blasting it, and I drove it well. I did drive it in a couple of pot bunkers and made bogeys. But I made just enough putts and hit a couple of really nice shots on 15, 16, 17, 18, pretty much right where I needed to go. And you know, that was a big birdie on 17 to make 18 play easier and then when I hit the you putt, the hole got in the way to win by two. But I'm very happy and excited to have won this. And on the green, first thing I asked Bernhard, "I really don't know, do I get to play in The Open next year?" And he goes, "Yeah, you do." To play one more Open is really, really special, too.
MODERATOR: And the swing that came around 11 and 12 was critical.
FRED COUPLES: To be perfectly honest with you, on the 12th hole, I hit a great drive and I was standing quite a bit ahead of Bernhard and saw where his second shot went and I don't know if I relaxed more, because I assumed that he was going to make a bogey there, but I hit a great 5 iron. Held it into the wind to about six or seven feet. And then he ended up plugging in the bunker and two in, three out, I don't know, he made six, and I made it for birdie. It was a huge shot, huge birdie, and I turned right around on the next hole and hit a perfect drive on a hole that's given a lot of people fits that I ended up hitting a bad wedge and three-putting there.
And after that, I looked up and Hallberg was 6, and I was 7. I assumed he was well ahead of me and then he ended up birdieing 17 and I hit good shots, like I said, on 15 and 16 to give me a chance at birdies and then I hit two really nice shots on 17 and had an easy 2 putt birdie and ended up winning.
MODERATOR: Obviously you've contended in quite a few opens but if you can sum up exactly what it means to get your hands on this prestigious trophy.
FRED COUPLES: Well, it's the next best thing for all of us. Obviously I never won The Open. I came close. We have talked about that a little bit. But you know, last night, I really thought the golf course, I needed to play it well, and it's my biggest Senior Tour win, by far. And I did win the TPC but this is much bigger than that on a truly great, great golf course. So again, you know, I can say I won a Senior British Open at Turnberry. I think that's the best thing about it, the whole week, was playing this course. It's a challenging, very tough course, under extreme weather. But you know, it's nice to win any event, but there's been a lot of great champions on this thing, that's for sure.
Q. I understand you had a slight dispute about a time you were given?
FRED COUPLES: No. I was a little upset. I haven't had a bad time in a long time. I don't know how you get them. But I just felt like it was at the wrong time or the wrong way of doing it, but it was on the 13th hole, and you know, we had been timed for a few holes. The second shot was terrible, and then 3 putting made the whole thing worse. But it was not a big deal. I just don't know the rules. I don't know how many bad times you get, why I got a bad time. I just was a little bit upset about that, and then the very next hole, I think Bernhard got one, too. So we were scrambling to catch up. And then the last, I think, four holes, we finally caught up.
Q. Obviously you three-putted 13 but it didn't affect you after that.
FRED COUPLES: No, you know, I mean - no. I just don't know the rules at all. So when them explained real quickly, you have a bad time, don't get another one, it makes it pretty easy to putt the pedal down and play as fast as you can. We're all trying to win a tournament, but I don't know if it was unsettling to Bernhard. It's hard. You're out there. There's a little bit of a gallery out there following us compared to most groups and but you fall behind, and it's very hard to catch up. But the 3 putt was really a long way away. It had nothing to do with getting a bad time.
Q. Have you ever had a bad time before?
FRED COUPLES: You know, not - I don't know. I don't remember it, and I certainly don't know the rules. I still don't. But I knew I wasn't going to get another bad time.
Q. This is your first win in Europe; is that right? You've won in Dubai, but not Europe?
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, no, probably not. First win in Europe. I don't know where the other one would be if I had one. I played Germany a few times. Scottish Open a long time ago. But yeah, first one.
FRED COUPLES: See you at Muirfield.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.