Couples comes to Masters to contend

Fred Couples during practice for the 2014 Masters at Augusta National.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Something about Augusta National brings out the best in Fred Couples. No other week would a player ranked 521st even get a mention among players to watch. This marks Couples’ 30th Masters appearance, and in the previous 29 starts he has missed the cut only twice (2008 and ’09).

“I’ve been like this before where I’m not feeling I’m playing well and then Thursday comes and I get all jacked up,” said Couples, who has 18 top-25 finishes, five top-5s and that unforgettable victory in 1992. In 112 rounds at Augusta, he’s a combined 13 under par.

Couples, 54, isn’t sure how many more of these he’ll play. He’s getting his back worked on this week but said he can’t complain. Emotions tend to mask the pain around here.

If nothing happens to hamper his distance in the coming years, Couples said he could see himself teeing it up another three or four times. He has no interest in playing if the goal is to simply make the cut.

Ceremony golf? Forget about it.

“When that time comes, it’s not going to be one those where I’ll just walk around and play,” Couples said. “I can come here and do that anyway.”

Couples has played only one PGA Tour event in 2014, the Northern Trust Open, where he missed the cut. On the Champions Tour, he’s gone T-2/1st/5th this season, his scoring average on the senior circuit an impressive 67.11.

A Sunday around Augusta, however, is nothing like the last lap at the Toshiba Classic.

“It’s brutal,” Couples said.

Among his favorites to win this tournament are Jason Day and Justin Rose.

“I would love to be Justin Rose on this course the next 10 or 15 years,” Couples said.

As for the prime time to win, Couples points to those in their early 30s.

“A lot of people that win this are 32 or 33 years old,” Couples said. “It’s very weird.”

Since 1934, 16 players aged 32 and 33 have won this event. Couples, by the way, was 32 years, 6 months and 9 days in 1992.

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