If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot a 67 at Masters?

Fred Couple's 67 was the best score of the Masters' second round. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fred Couples' 67 was the best score of the Masters' second round. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

AUGUSTA — A lot can change in 20 years. When Fred Couples won the Masters in 1992, he wasn’t 52, wasn’t ending interviews with, “OK, I have to go now, my back hurts,” wasn’t like one of those old guys in “Cocoon,” peering into the mystical waters of the swimming pool and dreaming of doing a swan dive back to youth.

Also, Rory McIlroy was 2 years old.

But Augusta National has long been a magical place for Couples. He shares the Masters record with Gary Player for making 23 consecutive cuts. Injuries finally ended that streak. But in 2010 he was back and, at age 50, he shot a 66 in the opening round and finished sixth.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Youth has no age.”

Couples said Friday, “I feel like I’m very young when I get here.”

That was apparent again Friday. Nine years removed from his last Tour win, Couples wasn’t merely the oldest player to make the cut at the Masters, he also shot the day’s best round at 5 under.

Time to celebrate. Which way to Shoney’s?

After going bogey-par to start the day, Couples birdied five of his next seven holes, ended the day with a share of the lead with Jason Dufner and allowed him to dream of Sunday the way we dream of a winning MegaMillions ticket.

When asked later, off stage, how he believed people would judge his career if he won the Masters at 52, Couples said, “Well, they probably would never see me again, so they can judge me any way [they want]. It would be a walk off. I’m dead serious. What a way to go?”

Will it happen?

Probably not.

Then again, why not?

Tom Watson was 59 when he nearly won the British Open in 2009, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink. Couples is seven years younger and at least as capable.

He walks on to greens at Augusta National like most people walk into their living room. Can he keep up with Phil Mickelson or McIlroy off the tee? No. “But I do know this course pretty well, and I’ve had a lot of success here,” he said.

Couples, who is the oldest second-round leader in Masters history, went on to say, “I don’t feel too much stress. Now, obviously there’s stress out there. [But] what I’m getting at is I’m not going to let too many things bother me. It’s so beautiful. You can’t say it’s your favorite place and then break a club on the fourth hole on Saturday. But I do like the place.”

He seemed at one Friday with every manicured blade of grass. He hit out of a bunker on the third hole to within four feet of the cup for an easy birdie putt. He read the ninth green perfectly, uphill and straight, and rolled it in from 35 feet. On 16, he sank a 20-foot putt for another birdie.

“If anything, I know the greens better than most because I’ve played 150 rounds of golf here,” Couples said.

Nonetheless, he referred to his round as “shocking” and “really amazing” and even “a little bizarre.”

He still takes pain blockers for his back. He didn’t play in the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday because he was concerned about wearing himself down, planned to get in some practice afterward, but then the storm came and chased players and fans off the course.

“That decision backfired,” he said.

But he shot par Thursday and found a groove Friday. His age might have actually been a benefit.

“I stand out there and say, ‘What the hell’ a lot,” he said. “‘What do I have to lose here? Go for the flag on this shot.’”

In the 1992 Masters, Couples shot a 67 in the second round, same as this year. That day included a memorable tee shot on 12 that landed on the grassy bank and stuck, defying gravity by not rolling into Rae’s Creek. That allowed him to make par and win by two strokes over Raymond Floyd. It was his first and only win in a major.

Couples referenced Watson’s British Open, saying, “Even though he lost, it was still the greatest feat I’ve ever seen.”

But this would come pretty close. Can he win?

“Yeah, I believe I can,” he said.

Everybody into the pool.

By Jeff Schultz

62 comments Add your comment

Gregg

April 6th, 2012
7:59 pm

Pulling for him…..

Paul in NH

April 6th, 2012
8:24 pm

A great day for Freddie. If he wins he will make every woman between the ages of 45 and 65 happy – including my wife.

How?

April 6th, 2012
8:26 pm

How did he do it? Got lucky. No way he wins this invitational.

why not??

April 6th, 2012
8:32 pm

Hey Paul, you left out my hex-wife, who is now only 32…

And I’ll still pull for BOOM-BOOM!!!

canman

April 6th, 2012
8:55 pm

The younger guys probably win out, but hey what a great day. Pulling for Couples.

jbird

April 6th, 2012
9:01 pm

Great to see the “old” guys do good. Was pulling for Tom Watson to make cut but didn’t happen. Had to give up my tix today :@( due to death of co workers father in law. I’ll be there next time. Kudos to Boom Boom

Boom Boom

April 6th, 2012
9:04 pm

This could be bigger than Nicklaus winning in Augusta
at the age of 46 in 1986.

smart dawg

April 6th, 2012
9:04 pm

Fred, do it for all of us old gray headed pharts.

OldTimer

April 6th, 2012
9:05 pm

He’ll finish 2nd to the Irish dude.

Skeezix

April 6th, 2012
9:41 pm

Love his swing. I’d love to see him win it, but I don’t give it a high probability.

Smitty

April 6th, 2012
10:03 pm

Well he cost me five bucks on my 36 hole leader pick so He might as well go ahead and win it.

Trapper John

April 6th, 2012
10:24 pm

Great guy! Great attitude. As the “old man” — that — “what the hell — I’m just happy to be here!” attitude can take you a long way in golf and in life. Youth will probably win out in the end, but what a great story. I hope it happens. Rory and the young Turks will have their time in the sun. Leading the Masters after two rounds at age 52? Are you kidding me?????

phil

April 6th, 2012
10:40 pm

Watson’s loss three yrs ago remains painful to this day. I still can’t believe he had a major won at 59 yrs of age, only to lose it at the last.

Absolutely remarkable what he did.

Couples? No way. The wheels fall off shortly. They always do with the older golfer.

phil

April 6th, 2012
10:41 pm

Fire Jim Nantz!!

phil

April 6th, 2012
10:44 pm

Miguel Angel Jimenez..

LOL

Najeh Davenpoop

April 6th, 2012
11:09 pm

“If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot a 67 at Masters?”

Because golf is not a sport.

Furman Bisher's Thoughts

April 6th, 2012
11:24 pm

Tiger, Furman Bisher, AJC, I have a few questions….Petulance. Unmannerly. Rude. Disrespectful. Are these the lessons you learned as a child? Can you give us a good reason that the people that invited you to there home shouldn’t kick you out as you kicked your 9 Iron?

GolferDave

April 6th, 2012
11:40 pm

Awesome Fred!…now settle down and make your twin 76’s and let the top players do their things :-)

marseilles mutt

April 6th, 2012
11:40 pm

Golf certainly is not a sport alright!

It is a game invented by sadists, played by masochists, and it helps if the participants are certifiably insane.

Best description is that there is ” A very fine line between a hobby and acute mental illness” and to not love it- golf- means that you are truly missing one of the finer things in this or any other life.

Sad really

marseilles mutt

April 6th, 2012
11:42 pm

Oh yeah! …and Go Freddy!

GolferDave

April 6th, 2012
11:46 pm

LOL phil…one of my favs is Miguel Angel Jiminez…the guy looks like an old biker – sans tats – and has won 18 Euro events over his career as well as playing in Ryder Cups. He just has no desire to come over to the Am. tour.

He’s 48 now and if he decides to come over for our senior tour in a couple years he will win bigtime.

GolferDave

April 6th, 2012
11:47 pm

GolferDave

April 6th, 2012
11:50 pm

phil said: “Fire Jim Nantz!!”

..and the ho he rode in on!

GolferDave

April 7th, 2012
12:08 am

phil said:

“Watson’s loss three yrs ago remains painful to this day. I still can’t believe he had a major won at 59 yrs of age, only to lose it at the last.

Absolutely remarkable what he did.”
+++++++++++++++++

Sadly phil – Tom always had an AMAZING long game. I’ve followed his career and was able once to watch him on the range at Augusta. He was hitting Drivers with a bit of fade towards the base of a large tree at the end of the range on the right. It was about 280 yards (and this was 20 years ago – when the techno clubs were in their infancy). He bounced every one of his shots within 5 yards of the base of the tree and actually hit the base of the tree with about 8. It was amazing…same trajectory every time..same distance. Not extremely long but longer than most and always where he wanted it.

If not for his putting woes he would have been right there with Jack IMO. He missed like five eight foot putts in the last round at the British on the final round before he missed the one that got him in the playoff against Cink. Crappy putter between 4 and 10 feet – if he’d only had a belly putter :-( I blame myself.

Whopper Dawg

April 7th, 2012
1:47 am

Boom Boom, Keep stroking it my friend. The nation is pulling for you.

uga-brave

April 7th, 2012
2:08 am

only a complete moron like najeh davenpoop yo josh smith cant play golf would chime in like that

Stinger 2

April 7th, 2012
4:53 am

Fred Couples and Davis Love have always been 2 players with beautiful swings.
Sadly, like me, their best days have past. I like many others are pulling for Fred but
he probably will fade like most older players do.

HATinGA

April 7th, 2012
5:18 am

Hey Najeh , Go find a 5iron some were and a few golf balls and try and hit them, (dont worry about having a big field you wont need it) and see how easy that nonsport really is.

Lacey Underall

April 7th, 2012
6:07 am

How about that classless JERK on 16!

WTF

April 7th, 2012
7:06 am

Freddie – of course he can win it. Golf is th ONLY pro sport where this might happen as golf is a game you can play well til death at any age. Shooting your age isn’t that unusual for a good golfer – if he’s healthy.
Tiger – I for one was pulling for him a bit…until the ‘mouth’ took over…and the club kicking. You don’t say G_d D__n at the Masters. You just don’t do it. I’m not into ‘role model’ stuff, but golf is still a gentleman’s game…be a gentleman and take your lumps with the old British stiff upper lip. And it wouldn’t hurt to acknowledge a patron on occasion. Bunp a fist once in awhile; smile at a kid; sign an autograph; be human. It may not help your golf game, but you’d benefit as a person.
Otherwise, your a putz. Still.

whosnext95

April 7th, 2012
7:09 am

Fred’s new secret??? He’s taking ANATABLOC for inflammation control (check out the left sleeve logo) Seriously, this supplement is doing AMAZING things for all kinds of people!

vidalia man

April 7th, 2012
7:40 am

I agree with WTF. I heard the G—D out of the Tiger’s mouth. The announcers said nothing, and the broadcast left him. If I was the Masters Chairman, I would explain it to him, that the Masters is by invitation, and either clean your act, while here or see ya! Don’t think Clifford, or Bobby would excuse him. He hasn’t changed. He is a spoiled immature person, with no morals.

Joe Tess Fish House

April 7th, 2012
8:00 am

Who care about glof. Why dont U rite about that loosing managar 4 the Braves.

Tiger Woods

April 7th, 2012
8:02 am

#(&% &^( @*(^&%%!

Yeah….I said it….Now @(&%(&W# OFF!!

Trojan

April 7th, 2012
8:18 am

Please, please, please give us an update on Tiger. ESPN only talked about him 5 minutes this morning and I need more. How is the 20th place player doing today?

Arnold Ziffel

April 7th, 2012
8:24 am

I hope it comes down to Freddie and Rory on Sunday. Tiger is a complete disgrace and took major steps backwards in repairing his image. The amateur from UGA makes me laugh as his game couldn’t back up his disrespectful comments. Pretty typical coming out of Athens lately.

Al Czervik

April 7th, 2012
8:40 am

Don’t worry. E…er..TMZSPN is readying the Tiger-Copter as I write this. They’ve invested billions of dollars and man-hours into silent motor technology so they hover over each golf tournament without disturbance and bring you all the Tiger news you’ll ever need (and then some). Amazingly, in the midst of this vast undertaking, they’ve also managed to find time for a spin-off network featuring 24-7-365 Tebow coverage.

Billy Boy Payne is Spineless

April 7th, 2012
8:53 am

That playa who was kicking clubs, cursing like a sailor, and showing his classless puck self, should have been asked to leave the hallowed grounds of Augusta.

But, as we all know, he was not.

Why? Because his classless self sells stuff to shallow minded people who think that because they ponied up some bucks for some hyped up gizmo, they have the same class and poise as da “Tiger”.

Well folks, after that display, and the endorsement of it by Billy Boy and his crue, y’all can have the tournement. While I hope Freddie C. wins the blasted thing, I will not know until AFTER the fat lady has sung, because I will not be watching.

South Bound And Down

April 7th, 2012
9:18 am

Hey Jeff, Tigger sure had that look in his eye yesterday,what a friggin
joke! CBS should cover all majors,Johnny Miller and his Tiger biased
ass makes me sick!

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

April 7th, 2012
9:32 am

The folks over at ESPN are so sad today for their little boy is sucking up..again. I hope the fecker falls in the creek! The lib press in this country is pitiful at best. Golf is about class and tiger is an azz! Once his father passed the real dude showed for his Tee times.

Snake Doc

April 7th, 2012
9:33 am

Here’s an idea for an article – Why don’t you write about what an embarrassing display eldrick put on when he threw his club and then kicked it. What a jerk and a joke. Write about that Schultize!

Stiffneck

April 7th, 2012
9:42 am

Don’t think age has too much to do who is playing better….come on, it’s golf. It’s not really a sport.

BobDawg

April 7th, 2012
9:47 am

I’m coming back as a Pro Golfer the 2nd time around…

Therut

April 7th, 2012
10:21 am

I would just love to read, one time, from the main street media what a jerk Tiger is. G-D, twice? What a role model. God how I love to see him struggle.

louisville slugger

April 7th, 2012
10:30 am

I’m loving this… I still remember going to the Atlanta Classic way back in 1981 and watching this guy not much older than me (a sophomore at GT at the time) hitting impossibly long tee shots while looking like he wasn’t swinging the club hard at all.

Phil

April 7th, 2012
11:00 am

Surprise-this liberal thinks Tiger is an immature jerk . It’s amazing how some conservatives turn every negative into an example of the “liberal media” has ruined society. Give a rest aready and go back to Fox for your” fair and balanced” news and leave the sportspage for sportsfans who want to escape the hostile political climate for a little R and R.

Scott

April 7th, 2012
12:14 pm

“If Fred Couples is so old, how did he shoot a 67 at Masters?”

ooo can i try to answer?? here goes: BECAUSE GOLF ISNT A SPORT AND REQUIRES NO ATHLETICISM WHATSOEVER

David Granger

April 7th, 2012
12:16 pm

What game have YOU been watching, Jeff? Things like this happen all the time.
Just a couple of years ago Tom Watson (who was 60 to Fred Couples’ 53) shot an identical 67. It’s not that older players can’t put it all together for a round (or two). It’s just hard to string good rounds together back-to-back-to-back-to-back like you have to do in order to win.

Jimmy Crack

April 7th, 2012
12:17 pm

Networks and advertisers are so stupid not putting Saturday Masters on live TV from the opening group. This year is especially telling, as Tiger is slumping as usual but is already on the course with his usually entertaining antics. ESPN is nothing but one big off-course Tiger hump this morning and the Golf Channel for some contractual reason can’t plug into Tiger’s (or anybody’s) present round live. Bad business efforts all around.

Ol' Timer

April 7th, 2012
12:27 pm

What irony. Two stories in the news about ol’ guys, One made a fool of himself and the other becomes our hero of the moment. Go Freddy. Go to hell Petrino!