Couples not ready to quit playing the Masters just yet

Rory McIIroy (left) and Dustin Johnson prepare to tee off on the fourth hole during their practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Monday, April 5, 2021, in Augusta.  Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com
Rory McIIroy (left) and Dustin Johnson prepare to tee off on the fourth hole during their practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Monday, April 5, 2021, in Augusta. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

AUGUSTA - As long as Fred Couples feels he can play Augusta National, he’ll be back.

At age 61, the 1992 champion will play in his 36th Masters. Despite missing the cut the past two tournaments, Couples feels like he can compete – not necessarily win, but compete. While the youngsters are hitting 9-irons into greens and Couples is hitting 6-irons, he still feels the desire to play.

“It’s not a competition for me,” Couples said Monday before the 2021 Masters. “The competition for me is to play the course the best I can. And when that becomes havoc, then I will probably have played my last Masters. At the moment, even the last two years, I’ve had two bad rounds but I’ve had two really, really, really good rounds. So I’ve got to play it, relax and have fun.”

Couples shot 77-73 last year in November and 78-71 in 2019 to miss the cut. However, he has 20 top-25 and 11 top-10 finishes in his Masters career. He looks and sees how players like Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize are still getting around and is encouraged.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Couples said. “I can still play. …. As long as I can compete, I will come back. I don’t know if that will be two more years, four more years or what. A lot of older guys have done well here.”

Bubba cheers

Bubba Watson made sure he got to Augusta in time to watch the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday. He stood by the 18th green - sporting is green jacket as a two-time winner of the Masters - to support the finishers.

“It’s a no-brainer for me to come out here, support and watch,” Watson said Monday. “Having the green jacket, I don’t know how I got it twice, but I got it and I feel like I’m part of the club and I want to be here and support anything they do, endeavors they do. The membership here is so smart and intelligent in what they are doing for the game of golf, not only for ladies but for young people, for men as well, it’s pretty impressive. … Why would you not want to be out here and support the women who are playing.”

Delivered on time

Baby watch is over – with a happy ending.

Jon Rahm’s wife gave birth on Saturday. The world’s third ranked golfer could have missed this week’s Masters had the child made it to its due date on the weekend. Rahm posted on Instagram Sunday that mother and child are “doing great” and wrote “Without a doubt the greatest day of my life!”

Rahm had a top-10 finish in each of the last three Masters, finishing fourth in 2018, tied for ninth in 2019 and tied for seventh last year.

Koepka here to play

Brooks Koepka arrived at Augusta National and intends to play in the Masters despite undergoing surgery on his right knee in March.

Surgery was required to help with a kneecap dislocation and ligament damage on March 16, 10 days after he slipped and fell. Koepka won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and tied for second in the World Golf Championships Workday Championship.

Koepka, ranked No. 11th in the world, is a four-time major winner. He finished tied for seventh last year after a tied for second in 2019.

Garcia back

Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, is back this year after missing last year following a positive COVID-19 test.

Garcia hadn’t missed a major since the 1999 U.S. Open when he was forced to miss last year’s Masters after it was moved to November. He was back on the grounds this week getting ready to play as a former champion.

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