Fred Couples, 53, reveled in a special day with Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley Thursday in the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Couples enjoyed the fact that he shot a 2-under par 70, one shot better than Woods. Bradley also finished 1-under, but it was the rare matchup with Woods that had Couples excited afterward.
He's what Couples said:
Q: You kicked Tiger’s butt:
A: Somehow we got this pairing. We played last year together, too. He’s my all-time favorite. I’ve not been playing any golf; I skipped last week. To be honest, I sent him a text and said, ‘Do you really want me in this group? I’ve played no golf.’ You’re nervous playing with him, but I was more nervous because I hadn’t played since Savannah with Jay Haas and I didn’t play well there.
I did beat him. I’ve never played with Keegan and that was a lot of fun. He’s truly long off the tee and with his irons and can really play, we all know that. I look forward to tomorrow. I’m in great shape. In the afternoon there weren’t from what I saw a lot of scores in the 60s.
I just like it because I would never take a spot. I’m the President’s Cup captain, but I would never take a spot to come play because I’m going to see the guys. I practiced pretty hard yesterday. I wasn’t great, but I got it around. I was 3-under, doubled 8, from 90 yards at No. 9 I shanked a wedge into the water, which I don’t think I’ve ever done. It was just fun. I putted extremely well. I look forward to playing tomorrow.
Q: Did you feel relaxed out there?
A: No. This course is not easy and we don’t play it like this all the time. It played really, really fast. There were a lot of 3-woods off the tees, which I think helped me. Those guys hit it so far, it makes it entertaining. I only get to play with Tiger once in a while. For me personally, it was windy, the course is extremely hard, obviously there were some good scores in the morning. But tomorrow afternoon if the wind blows, it plays its way out of there and you see if someone can come out tomorrow afternoon and shoot 4 or 5 under, they’re going to be leading by a few if they’re one of those top five or six guys.
The course was awesome. Jack, we’re going to do a little dinner tonight for the members. I got to meet the President yesterday and I’m sitting down doing an interview with Jack today and played with Tiger. So tah-de-dah, what’s next?
Q: What was it like being with your old caddie Joe LaCava?
A: Three years ago I played with Dustin Johnson and Joe was caddying for Dustin. Last year I was out here with Tiger and Joe was caddying for him. This year I didn’t walk over to the bag as many times as I did. With Dustin I actually went over a couple times. Pretty funny, not trying to be smart, I went over there because I thought Joe was my caddie. He and Tiger, I think that’s a great match. Even 10 or 15 years ago I know Joe liked Tiger and vise-versa. It’s nice to see them working together.
Q: Were you up for the round today?
A: Yeah, if I knew I was going to make that putt to beat Tiger at 18 it might have been a little different. I won’t lie to you, I asked to see if I could get paired, it might be my last time really playing with Tiger. Maybe at Augusta I might get paired with him. If he can be leading after two rounds again maybe I’ll get a shot at him. That’s where it ends for me, after 36 holes there. I was blessed to play with him. My goal when I play with him is to try to hit it solid and stay out of his way and today was a good one.
Q: Why do you like playing with Tiger so much?
A: I don’t know. I can shoot free throws with Michael Jordan, who’s a friend, but I can’t do anything else with him. I can play golf with him. That’s not the same. In golf, he’s our best player and I play on the Champions Tour, so I rarely get to see him. When we’re at Augusta I always try to hit balls next to him. There’s a lot of guys. I used to always practice with Davis Love, the sound of the ball was incredible. Tiger, he’s Tiger. You saw it. He didn’t play great, but he still hit incredible shots. He didn’t putt very well for him. Otherwise he could be 3-under par easily and be right there. He’ll have to work tomorrow. But I just like the way he plays. He’s always sharp and he plays well.
Q: How was the trip to the White House?
A: The trip to the White House was great. Nick Price and his wife went up and my girlfriend. We got to spend 20 minutes with (Obama), his busy schedule. Nick went home and I came down here and practiced for a couple hours. It was fun. We got a couple stories.
Q: How was the putting green?
A: The putting green was good. He didn’t get to go out there. Marvin, his aide took us out there and we rolled a few. It’s a little slower than these greens, but good. They didn’t have any belly putters so I had to putt with a crutch. I didn’t hit many putts, I watched.
Q: Did you give him any tips?
A: We asked him to come here in October (for the Presidents Cup) and he said he couldn’t do it. Then we asked him again and he said he couldn’t do it. Then we said we’d check in a couple months from now. No tips. He was incredibly gracious. He’s very funny. He had a couple funny stories. It was really a very special 20 minutes.