Blog Number 38 - 7/27/10

fredcouplesNo wonder Fred Couples is still driving the ball close to the 300-yard mark and winning more than his share of golf tournaments. The man is looking amazingly trim and healthy; trimmer and healthier in fact than he did 20-something years ago when, as a starry-eyed kid, I asked to have my picture taken with him. Just as my friend pressed the shutter, Tom Purtzer, who was also on the range at Wentworth GC just outside London, slid into the corner of the picture which I wasn't too thrilled about. No disrespect to Purtzer whose swing I also admired greatly, but Couples was my hero (I think I was still young enough to have sporting heros). The picture was meant to be just me and him.
The point of all this is to say that Couples is obviously taking his Champions Tour career very seriously. Gordy Graybeal, the Director of Golf for the First Tee of Greater Seattle, who remembers first teeing it up with Couples at Jefferson Park in 1970 (or was it '71?), also saw Couples today and told me he's clearly focusing on his core strength just now to ease the pain in his back which has bothered him for 15 years or more. 'I think the Champions Tour, and this tournament especially, are a big deal for him,' says Graybeal who says he last played with Couples in the California desert about seven years ago.  'And whatever he's doing it's obviously working because he's looking really fit and swinging beautifully.'
Couples didn't actually make many swings during today's clinic which was put on for members of the First Tee of Greater Seattle and Rotary Boys and Girls Clubs in the Central Seattle District. It lasted an hour and a half but in that time, the 50-year-old 15-time PGA Tour winner can't have hit more than eight balls. Most of the time he was answering questions from the kids; questions that ranged from the fairly tame - 'What is your favorite color?' (Augusta Green, of course), to the technical - 'How do you keep so cool? (I really don't know, but I've gotten better at it as I've gotten older) - to the downright cheeky - 'Can I have one of your golf balls? (Yes).
Couples was relaxed and cheerful and obviously loving every minute. He says he wants to do really well this week. And if you can judge a player's potential on only eight swings, I'd say the chances of his doing really well this week are really good.

If you're heading down to Sammamish, be sure to catch Couples, even if it's for a few holes. He's paired with Argentina's Eduardo Romero and eight-time major winner Tom Watson for the first two rounds (as if the group needed some more star power). Friday looks a whole lot more appealing than Thursday because he tees off at 7.45am in Round One which means you'd have to leave Bellingham at 5.30 at the latest if you wanted to see all 18 holes. On Friday, he starts at a far more accommodating 1pm. But whatever time you catch up with him, take a look and tell me that isn't the fittest-looking Fred Couples you ever saw.
For a full list of Thursday and Friday tee-times, click here.

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