He's been shaking things up in a big way. It wasnt that long ago, however, that Couples was shaking things up with his sticks.
He won twice in 1998, at the Hope and the Memorial, and his last win before that season came in 1996 at this weeks event, the PLAYERS Championship. Couples fired a final-round 64 on that occasion to better one of golfs strongest fields by four shots. He became the first player to ever win the event twice at the TPC at Sawgrass (his first victory came in 1984).
This was Couples at his finest, playing phenomenal golf over one of the worlds best tracks. He had done it many times before in his career and this time was no different.
Neither was his performance at Muirfield two years later ' again, it was Couples by four at the end of the show.
There hasn't been much since, however. He was 56th on the money list in 99 and 47th in 00, and last year had a really tough time of it. Couples finished 2001 with no top 10 finishes and he missed five cuts of the 19 events he played. He wound up with just $386,000 in earnings to finish 131st on the money list.
Couples has done OK for himself in recent times, however. No, hes not tearing up the charts as he once did, but he is showing signs of improvement.
So far, Couples has played in six events in 2002, and so far he has made six cuts. In those six tournaments, Couples has been outside the top 22 finishers on just two occasions. At the Nissan, he scorched Riviera with a final-round 66 to finish ninth. Overall, he has made $230,000, his rank hovering around 50th.
It would seem a funny time for Fred Couples to be advocating a new tour for players his age and with his major credentials. Seems like his game is coming around fine. And with a swing like his and his length off the tee, you would think that he of all people could hang with the young guns.
The following is a list of players who won at least one tournament on the PGA Tour in 2001. They are all in their 40s: Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Hoch, Hal Sutton, Kenny Perry, John Cook, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Joel Edwards.
Does anyone think for a second that Fred Couples cant hang with these fellows? Does anyone think for a second that the only way Couples can win these days is on a tour with a select field?
Probably not. Chances are, hes still perfectly capable on any tour.