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Couples rarely acts his age on the course

'92 Masters champ posts impressive 68

Sunday, April 11, 2010


It's been said that things begin going downhill after a person turns 50.

Fred Couples waits his turn on the fairway at 3 during the third round of the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club Saturday April 10, 2010. (Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff)

Fred Couples' back might agree with that sentiment, but not his golf game.

"I feel 100 standing here, to be honest with you," Couples said to the media after his Saturday round. "But I don't feel 50 playing golf."

Couples heard the roars at Augusta National Golf Club when he chipped in for eagle at No. 15 on Saturday.

That helped him shoot 4-under-par 68 and puts him five shots off the lead heading into today's final round.

Couples, the 1992 Masters Tournament champion, and 60-year-old Tom Watson (tied for 14th at 2-under) are making the AARP card-carrying world proud.

"I still drive the ball a long way," Couples said. "You know, I can hit a lot of long irons and play long, hard holes, and that's what you've got to do here.

Fred Couples studies his shot at No. 2 during the third round at Augusta National. Couples shot 4-under 68 on Saturday and is alone in fifth place, five shots off Lee Westwood's Masters lead. (Michael Holahan/Staff)

"Whatever happens (today), it's not because I'm 50 and tired; it's just because I didn't play well on Sunday at Augusta.

"But I'm going to give it my best."

Couples added four birdies to his eagle Saturday, and despite bogeying No. 18 for the second consecutive day, sits alone in fifth place.

Couples' driving has been exceptional, hitting 34 of 42 fairways, and he 3-putted just twice over the opening 54 holes.

Couples loves the tournament he has participated in 26 times.

"This is my favorite spot to play," Couples said. "I know I can play the course. I can putt the greens. I'm a great lag putter.

"But I haven't really made any putts this week.

''I know that sounds really stupid, but I've hit the ball really well."

Couples believes making up five shots isn't impossible, but rolled his eyes and said men such as Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson and Tigers Woods -- three of the four ahead of him -- aren't likely to blow up.

"They aren't going to shoot much over par," Couples said. "I need a 65 or 66 to get in. It would be a miracle, but we'll see."

Speaking of miracles, Couples said his back will determine part of his fate today. He has two machines he will use for four or five hours to help loosen him up before his 2:20 p.m. tee time.

"If I get loose, and I can go to the first hole and pound it, it's all OK," Couples said. "It's mostly bending over that really hurts."

Couples was playing in the group directly ahead of Mickelson and witnessed the lefty's eagle-eagle effort on Nos. 13 and 14. He even yelled at Mickelson from the 15th fairway.

"I wanted that golf ball he holed at 14," Couples said. "That's what I wanted. He couldn't hear me, but I wanted that eagle ball. And then I chipped in and told him he could have my eagle ball.

"Phil is going to be the guy to beat. He really wants to win and is a phenomenal player."

Watson shot 73 and continues to hang in the top 15 after turning back the clock with his opening-day 67.

Watson did hear the crowd's approval of a 60-year-old standing at 2-under-par after three rounds.

"I just kind of had a dull, blah day out there," Watson said. "The crowd was very encouraging, and it's still a pleasure to walk around Augusta where the azaleas are popping and I saw the most beautiful bluebird on 17 I've ever seen.

"So it was an awesome day at Augusta today."

By the way, who did Watson pick to win the Masters?

"I picked Couples," Watson said. "I picked him and Westwood this week."

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