Champions Tour is favorable to Couples


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Fred Couples is known more for his exploits on the PGA Tour than on the Champions Tour, but that doesn't mean he's not enjoying his time with the seniors.

He might be older, but his long game is still something to be reckoned with, especially on a course like the one at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.

"If you are on the outside looking in, the big appeal is that, in my opinion, we all still play very, very well," Couples said Wednesday. "A lot of these guys will go play in tournaments on the regular tour, and I don't think anybody embarrasses themselves. If they are missing the cut, it's by a shot or two."

The course is medium length in terms of the Champions Tour, but it plays longer than most because of its slopes. Factor in the rain from heavy thunderstorms that moved through Thursday evening into early Wednesday morning, and the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship, which starts today, looks like it's going to favor players with a long game.

And even though there's some real talent at this tournament -- of the 16 total former No. 1 players in the world, four are playing at Fox Chapel -- Couples, the long-range driver, is one of the favorites.

"We play golf courses that you're required to hit some long shots," said Tom Watson, who is also teeing off today. "It's not pitch and putt, although it's pitch and putt for Freddy. He's in a different world, Freddy. We play some pretty long golf courses and it's a challenge out here. ... He drives the ball very straight, and he putts the ball very well, and I suspect him to do very well out here."

Before starting on the Champions Tour, Couples won 15 PGA Tour tournaments, including the 1992 Masters for his only major win. He was the No. 1 golfer in the world for a total of 16 weeks -- 11th most all time.

Since joining the Champions Tour in 2010, Couples has won eight tournaments and two majors, but has yet to win one in 2013.

Even though he has been good enough to play in a couple PGA events since joining the Champions Tour, physically, the 53-year old has been enjoying the slower pace, where the tournaments are more spread out and most are four rounds, including the pro-am, instead of five.

"When you play well and play on the regular tour, you can still finish 40th," Couples said. "You're out of your element no matter who you are. When you go out and play in Europe and you're 49 years old, you aren't one of those guys who feels like you can dominate. When you get out here, it's a breath of fresh air."

He has been awfully close to winning one this year. Last week, Couples finished second at the Encompass Championship in Glenview, Ill., losing by one stroke to Craig Stadler. This week, Couples is the favorite to win at Fox Chapel, where he finished fourth in 2012.

Statistically, Couples is near the top of the board in just about every major category. The big one to look out for is driving distance, with his 292.8-yard average ranking second behind John Huston's 294.2.

He's older now, but Couple's long game is still something to be reckoned with, no matter what tour he's on.

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Everett Cook: ecook@post-gazette.com and Twitter @everettcook. First Published June 27, 2013 4:00 AM


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