Date: November 30, 2010
Author: Steve Orme, Sportal

Couples fancies his chances

Popular American Fred Couples freely admits his game is a little bit on the rusty side, but the golfing icon still fancies his chances of stealing the Stonehaven Cup at this week&aposs Australian Open presented by Century 21. The 51-year-old won four tournaments in his debut season on the Champions Tour in 2010 and came close to winning a second US Masters title in April before eventually finishing sixth. Couples&apos hectic schedule eventually caught up with him in the form of a nagging back complaint that has plagued him in recent weeks. But the charismatic veteran says he&aposs ready to put on a show in just his second Australian Open start at the revamped Lakes layout in Sydney. “To be here this week, I need to go out there and play and really get going and get to know the course, but I&aposm not just here to show up,” Couples said on Tuesday morning before heading out for a practice round. “I never want to embarrass myself and not play to my best.” “I&aposve not played this course but I&aposve been in Australia quite a few times. I was here yesterday with Greg (Norman) over at Royal Melbourne for a day and then very excited about playing here.” “This course you&aposve got to pay attention to it from what I hear. I think the rain will help the players … but if today&aposs a bad day I&aposm fine with that because it&aposs really not raining that hard.” Asked to rate the current state of his game, Couples, who is best known for his effortless ball-striking, concedes his improved putting has been behind much of his success in 2010. “I feel confident in the way I&aposve been hitting the ball, there&aposs no doubt I&aposve been hitting the ball pretty well,” he said. “The weirdest thing of this whole year is that I led the Champions Tour in putting and I say that because that is where most of my confidence comes from.” “When I putt well, I mean other people putt well all the time but when I putt well I usually play very, very well. This year for me to be first in putting, I&aposve no idea why that happened. I was never close to being No.1 in putting on the regular tour in 29 years so it was a great bonus.” Meanwhile, Couples is expecting big things from good friend and defending champion Adam Scott both this week and beyond. “For sure, he&aposs a major player,” he said of the pre-tournament favourite. “I watched him play when he won in Singapore, he&aposs got a phenomenal golf swing but I think sometimes his putting holds him back.” “Before last year for a little while his game was a little off, but it&aposs nice to see him turn it around and he&aposs another guy on our tour who can semi-carry events.” “He&aposs a great looking kid, he dresses great, he supports our tour and if he&aposs playing well it makes every tournament better.”