AUGUSTA, Ga. – Fred Couples just wanted to find a comfortable couch after completing his second round Friday. A bad back that flared up and a score that kept creeping up had Couples steamed as he spoke behind the 18th green at Augusta National.
“As soon as I get home and lay down I’ll be fine,” Couples said. “But right now I’m pissed off, to be honest with you.”
It was tough to blame him.
Couples, the first-round leader after a 6-under 66, shot 75 Friday and tumbled down the leaderboard on the back nine. After opening with even-par 36 on the front, Couples three-putted Nos. 16 and 17 for bogey, then took four shots to find the green on No. 18. He bogeyed there, too. He took 33 putts, nine more than his opening round.
“It was a shame because he played nicely, the front nine he was striking it well,” said Sergio Garcia, who played alongside Couples and shot 71. “He didn’t have the pace on the greens today. He missed a lot of good opportunities when he had them. He probably played three or four bad holes and didn’t get away with any of them.”
Along with Tom Watson, who shot 67 Thursday, Couples was the feel-good story of the Masters. Both players have green jackets (Watson in 1977 and ’81, and Couples in ’92) and are now bidding to become the tournament’s oldest champion – Watson at 60, Couples at 50. But Watson took a dive down the leaderboard, too. Just as Couples had finished tapping in for bogey at No. 18, Watson was just steps away at No. 9, putting the finishing touches on a three-putt. Watson made the turn in 38 and was 3 under for the tournament.
“For a while today, I felt like I would be going from first to last,” Couples said. “It’s not a whole lot of fun at the moment, but that’s the way it is.”