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Fred Couples

Fred Couples: The secrets to my success at the Masters

Few people know their way around Augusta National better than Fred Couples. Thirty years on from his famous win, 'Boom Boom’ tells Steve Carroll why he gets on so well with the Georgia masterpiece
 

If you’re going to win one major in a career, it might as well be the Green Jacket and access to an exclusive club that lasts a lifetime.  

And it might as well be a memorable victory too, with one shot that will always remain as one of the Masters’ iconic moments.  

But what else would you expect from Fred Couples – a man who has had a quite incredible relationship with the hallowed fairways and greens at Augusta National?  

To call his record at the year’s first major phenomenal would be a bit of an understatement. He can look back on five top fives, 11 top 10s, and 20 top 25s, and 30 cuts from 36 events. Though he hasn’t made the weekend since 2018, would you really rule him out from finding yet another fabulous first round and heading towards the top of the leaderboard?  

‘Boom Boom’, of course, got his hands on the Green Jacket in 1992, a victory that made an indelible mark on tournament history – 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.  

As he celebrates three decades since that victory, and ahead of another stroll round golf’s most sought after course, he reveals the reasons he and Augusta National get on quite so famously…  

Know where to miss  

“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. One thing I do there is I putt 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.”  

You need a little luck 

“It was a huge break [on the 12th]. 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 just went 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. I think about that shot a lot – and it’s brought up a lot.”  

Go after it on Sunday 

“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.”  

Enjoy being on the property  

“What stands out is that once you get on the grounds at Augusta, everything is absolutely perfect. It has 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.”  

The class of 92   

Fred Couples arrived at Augusta in 1992 as the best player in the world. He won the LA Open and the Nestle Invitational, finishing 2nd in two other events, before heading to 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 Sunday. 

“There was a rain delay, 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 2-under, which put me in great shape, I went out [for the final round] and was a little sloppy for the first few holes.” 

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.  

“I started going and played well until the lucky break on 12. 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.” 

Fred Couples’ record at the Masters

1983: T32
1984: 10th
1985: T10
1986: T31
1987: DNP
1988: T5
1989: T11
1990: 5th
1991: T35
1992: 1st
1993: T21
1994: DNP
1995: T10
1996: T15
1997: T7
1998: T2
1999: T27
2000: T11
2001: 26th
2002: T36
2003: T28
2004: T6
2005: T39
2006: T3
2007: T30
2008: MC
2009: MC
2010: 6th
2011: T15
2012: T12
2013: T13
2014: T20
2015: MC
2016: DNP
2017: T18
2018: T38
2019: MC
2020: MC
2021: MC

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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