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Fred Couples, 51, five shots out of Masters lead, keeps his perspective

Fred Couples, 51, five shots back after 4-under 68, says a win by him “would be the biggest upset in golf history.”

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Fred Couples, 51, five shots back after 4-under 68, says a win by him “would be the biggest upset in golf history.”

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Chances are, you have no attachment whatsoever to Fred Couples. Never played a round of golf with him, never knew his Aunt Millie at the club, never had a reason to think much about him beyond the odd televised PGA Tour event.

And yet, chances are you will be pulling for Couples at the Masters this afternoon. Why? It could be that he makes you think of better days. Or he allows you to believe anything is possible. Or maybe it's just because he reminds you a little of yourself.

Rory McIlroy? Rickie Fowler? Jason Day? Those guys are in another dimension. They are 21, 22 and 23, respectively, and probably have no idea that life won't always be this sweet.

But you know better. And so does Couples.

You can see it when he bends down at No. 12 to read a putt. He winces slightly and then twists his torso left and right to loosen a perpetually cranky back.

You can see it when he pulls his hat off on the 18th green and the cameras show the head of gray hair that is stashed underneath.

You can hear it when he is asked how he would describe his possible victory in the Masters and Couples pretty much dismisses the idea of a 51-year-old winning golf's most prestigious event.

"Retiring is what it would be. I would be gone," Couples said. "It would be the biggest upset in golf history.

"Are you kidding?"

Yeah, there is little chance Couples will put on another green jacket 19 years after he won his first. Not with Tiger Woods racing up the leaderboard. And not with a United Nations list of golfers between him and the lead.

Couples shot 4-under 68 on Friday in the second round, putting him five strokes behind leader McIlroy in a five-way tie for seventh place at 5-under 139. Conceptually, he has a chance. Realistically, it's not going to happen.

It's been eight years since Couples last won on the PGA Tour. He still has more length to his game than a lot of younger golfers, and after an estimated 200 rounds or so on Augusta National, he knows the course as well as anyone.

But Couples has been living with a bad back for several years, and the effort of playing four consecutive days on a rolling course such as Augusta is bound to take a toll.

So can Couples repeat Jack Nicklaus' magic from 1986 when he won the Masters at 46?

"Six years ago, maybe," Couples said.

Fred Couples, 51, five shots out of Masters lead, keeps his perspective 04/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 10:01pm]
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