Captain Couples easygoing but hard to understand

By Doug FergusonOctober 7, 2009, 1:11 am
Presidents Cup

SAN FRANCISCO – The Presidents Cup will feature 34 matches over four days at Harding Park, bringing together the best players from everywhere in the world except Europe. The entertainment value could start well before the competition.

Fred Couples is the U.S. captain.

He could say anything. His remarks, at a news conference or the opening ceremony, could go anywhere.

Remember, this is the player who once said, “I’m a lot older than I was when I was 30, which is hard to believe.”

Couples, a former Masters champion who reached No. 1 in the world, is known for the grace, power and simplicity of his swing. He is perhaps even more famous for telling reporters that he doesn’t like to answer the phone “because someone may be on the other end.”

This might be golf’s version of Yogi Berra.

No, he has never been quoted as saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Then again, there was that time Couples was playing in the Ryder Cup and offered up this assessment of the U.S. chances: “I think if we can stay ahead every day, we’ll have a good shot at winning.”

“You hit the nail on the head calling him the Yogi Berra of golf,” Phil Mickelson said. “That’s the kind of manager – captain – he’ll be. I think it will be a fun week.”

That’s one reason the U.S. players have been looking forward to this week at Harding Park.

Couples makes it fun.

He wanted to be a Ryder Cup captain, yet he was never given serious consideration. Couples made the mistake – not that he would ever apologize – of publicly poking fun of players having to spend too much in a tuxedo and shaking too many hands at dinner parties.

When he accepted the Presidents Cup job, he was making arrangements for the week in San Francisco and asked a PGA Tour assistant to book one dinner at DiMaggio’s (he first referred to it as Mantle’s). Couples suggested a reservation for six, until he was reminded there were 12 players on the team.

“These guys don’t want to eat with each other every night, do they?” Couples said, and it wasn’t clear if he was kidding.

Yes, it should be a fun week for the Americans.

“We all know what kind of attitude Freddie has, and I think that will be a good attitude for the team,” Steve Stricker said. “I think it will relax us. He’s kind of a free-spirited, free-caring guy, and very light to be around.”

The choice was logical, if not a little late.

The Presidents Cup began only in 1994, and Couples remains the one player best identified with these matches. It was his 9-iron from the bunker on the final hole in the inaugural year that took a crazy spin and stopped 2 feet from the cup for a 1-up victory over Nick Price that was the clinching point in a U.S. victory.

Two years later, when the matches were much tighter, it was Couples who made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to beat Vijay Singh in the final match of the Presidents Cup for a 16 1/2 -15 1/2 victory. He played in his last Presidents Cup in 2005, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to beat Singh again.

The plan was for Couples to be captain in 2005. That changed when the matches ended in a tie in South Africa in 2003, and the tour thought it would be good to have Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to return as captains to settle the score.

Couples, who turned 50 on Saturday, is still good enough to play. Even with limited play and his ailing back, he had four top 10s this year and twice had a chance to win on the back nine, at Riviera and the Houston Open. He is 69th on the money list.

He has been good for a long time, so long that he has a hard time remembering.

“I’m playing as well as I’ve ever played,” he said earlier this decade, “except for the years I played better.”

Couples has played with Tiger Woods in two Presidents Cups, and the world’s No. 1 player is as comfortable with Couples as any captain over the last 12 players.

For all that a captain does – wild-card picks, clothing, pairings, dinner reservations – Woods looks forward to what Couples has to say.

“I can’t wait to listen to him, his speeches, and see where they’re going to go,” Woods said. “When they start off one way, they never end up there. I think that’s one of things that we’re all going to have a good time with.”

Lost in his lazy manner is how much Couples pays attention, not only to his players, but just about everyone in golf.

Perhaps the only unknown about the U.S. captain was whether he would be able to communicate with his players throughout the year when he wasn’t at a tournament. That requires a phone, and Couples doesn’t like to answer the phone.

Good news – he learned how to text, and he’s relentless.

Of course, Couples still doesn’t have a grasp on this new era of communications.

“The tour tried to make him do e-mail and iPhone and all that to try to get him up to speed,” Davis Love III said this year. “They got him to at least where he’s really good with texting. But you can text him, and then immediately call him and he still won’t answer. He hasn’t figured out that, ‘We know you’ve got the phone in your hand.”’

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.


“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange


“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico


Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.