I JUST WATCHED FRED Couples shoot his best round at Augusta National Golf Club, a six-under par 66. Couples is leading a small-field invitational tournament known as the Masters at the age of 50. You know what? If Fred keeps playing the way he’s playing, if he keeps his back loose and swing fluid, if he can manage to putt decently, he can be as good as Tom Watson when he turns 60.
I know, I know. That’s a high standard—and 10 years is a long time—but it’s at least possible, something to strive for.
It’s no coincidence that super 60-year-old Watson was at the top of the Masters leaderboard with a 67 until that sockless, sneaker-wearing Couples came along and birdied four of the last seven holes. That’s the kind of hyper-competitive golf they play on the Champions Tour. And, I’m telling you, this Couples kid is a real up-and-comer.
After Watson won the first two Champions Tour events of the season, the first one teaming with Jack Nicklaus, Couples won three of the next four. Couples and Watson are taking a break from the Champions circuit this week. And the Masters, a quaint little tournament where the spectators are called “patrons” and they give the winner a green sport coat (comes with a free wooden hanger and year-round storage), seems to be the perfect event for the boys to keep their games sharp until they tee it up in Savannah and Biloxi.
Actually, the small field has some name players. Besides Couples and Watson, others playing in the event include Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Larry Mize, Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler and Ian Woosnam. There are also a bunch of really, really young kids (under 50 and some even under 40 and 30) and a few amateurs as well. Again, it’s an invitational and they do everything a certain way, but no one seems to mind too much.
Couples, Watson, Langer, Lyle and the others are enjoying the scenery (it’s a former nursery and everything is blooming), keeping their games tuned up and, well, just staying in the moment. They’ll try not to look too far ahead. The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and Regions Charity Classic will have to wait. These men are professionals, after all.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)