Fred Couples was able to find his smile by the time he reached the back of the Augusta National clubhouse where all the cameras were waiting Sunday after his Masters finish, but his emotions were more raw leaving the scoring hut behind the 18th green minutes earlier.
If you were among the reporters who caught him down there, his emotional pain was palpable.
Couples wasn’t happy just to be in the hunt at the Masters at 50. He desperately wanted another green jacket once he got himself in position. The hurt of missing out reminded you of the same sense of pain you felt from Raymond Floyd when he was being driven away in a cart after his playoff loss to Nick Faldo in 1990. Floyd was 47 and you sensed he knew he had lost his last best chance to win another green jacket.
Couples spoke afterward of how much he loves Augusta National and the disappointment he’s felt in believing he should have won one or two more green jackets to go with the one he claimed in ’92. Given his age and the nature of his back, you can’t help wondering if we were just witness to his last run on the leaderboard on a Masters’ Sunday. A lot of Freddie fans at Augusta National hope not.