Few people know their way around Augusta National better than Fred Couples. He tells Steve Carroll why he gets on so well with the Georgia masterpiece
Fred Couples has a quite phenomenal record at the year’s first major – boasting five top 5s, 11 top 10s, and 20 top 25s.
‘Boom Boom’ got his hands on the precious Green Jacket in 1992, a victory that came with one of the tournament’s iconic moments – the tee shot at 12 that somehow stayed on the bank and didn’t fall back into Rae’s Creek – as he held off Ray Floyd by two shots.
So we sat down with Couples and asked him for the reasons he and Augusta National get on so famously…
1. I know where to miss
“Well, it’s a long hitter’s course. I don’t know which aren’t nowadays but you see a shot, you hit a shot and you feel like you can hit the shot.
“I’ve played so many rounds that I know where not to go on a lot of holes. Even last year, as a semi-cripple, I was missing balls where I could get up and down. When I play well I do the same things.
“One thing I do there is I putt pretty well. I’m a very good lag putter on fast greens. The other thing is that I’m an above average iron player. At Augusta, that’s a big way to play.
“You can hit the right shot, the right distance, so you are never really short or really long. But I’m a very good iron player and I think that bodes well at Augusta.”
2. My keys to victory in 1992
“There was a rain delay on Saturday and so I got to go out and play four holes early on Sunday morning.
“I thought that was a blessing. I birdied 15 and 16 and made a nice par on 18 out of the sand. So I those played two under, which put me in great shape, and I was paired with Craig Parry for the last day.
“I went out (for the final round) and was a little sloppy for the first few holes but then I started going and played well until the lucky break on 12.
“I was playing really well. I remember a lot of good shots and battling with Ray Floyd on Sunday because Craig Parry slipped a little bit and had a bad round. It was a fun day.”
3. THAT shot at 12
“I don’t look at the video too much (these days) but it was a huge break. When I stood on that tee, like anyone, I probably felt way too nervous about the shot.
“I hit the ball solidly but, obviously, I pushed it and it went just far enough. As we all know, I was lucky it didn’t hit up by the green, start catching momentum and go down the hill. For sure, it would have gone into Rae’s Creek.
“But it hit way down low and then I made a nice little pitch and par and played well the rest of the way. Yeah, I think about that shot a lot and it’s brought up a lot.”
4. Why I can’t wait for Augusta Sundays
“They have set it up so the course is really long, and the pins are tucked on Thursdays and Fridays. The best round, on a lot of days, is Sunday.
“The pins are a little easier, I hate to say that, but scoring gets better and it’s really fun to play the course.
“When everything is set up long, and the pins are hard, 70 is an unreal score. Do I like it better now or back then? I think I like it better now, because of the way the ball is going and how good these players are.
“It’s not that long for these guys, because they hit it so far. It’s tough because you don’t hit your irons as close and the greens are so difficult to two-putt from 30, 40 and 50 feet on some. The scores go up just by three putting.”
5. It’s always a treat to be on the property
“What stands out is that once you get on the grounds at Augusta, everything is absolutely perfect. It’s a great practice area and the greens are just like the golf course. You have everything going for you and then you’ve just got to go out and play it.
“I don’t know anyone who really dislikes Augusta. There are some good players who have maybe never played well there and they don’t like the way they do this or that. That happens all the time.
“But, for me, I think I’ve played over 30 something years and it is a treat, any given day, just to be there.”
Fred Couples and the class of 92
Fred Couples arrived at Augusta as the best player in the world. He won the Los Angeles Open and the Nestle Invitational, finishing second in two other events, before arriving in Georgia for the first major of the year.
Starting with a 69, Couples was one off the lead of Craig Parry and defending champion Ian Woosnam at halfway and trailed Parry by a stroke following a disrupted third round that spilled over into Saturday.
Parry briefly held a three shot lead in the final round after a birdie at the second, and a bogey for Couples, but the pair were tied by the fourth.
The Australian started to drop away around the turn, as Couples birdied eight and nine and Ray Floyd became his main challenger.
But by the time Fred made his miracle par on 12, he had forged into a three-shot lead and cruised home for a final round 70 and got to don the most precious garment in golf.
Fred Couples’ record at the Masters
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