Fear the Boom Boom

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

The hair is more salt and pepper than it was in his prime, but (Boom Boom) is still bombing to the delight of the fans who, this day, lined the driving range at Islington Golf Club to watch Fred Couples prepare for the RBC Canadian Open, which gets underway today.

It has been seven years since Couples last won a PGA Tour event, but every now and again, he shows the form that won him 15 events, including the 1992 Masters, to revitalize the rock star status he once held in a staid profession.

In a world where Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney carry on, there’s no reason to his legions of fans why Couples, now entering his second half-century, can’t do the same. Apparently, Couples himself agrees with them and a tie for sixth at the 2010 Masters does offer at least the perception of eternal youth.

After all, the guy can legitimately say he’s a rookie on the Champions Tour where being 50 years old means you’re a young buck and Couples played like it from the get-go, finishing as runner-up before winning three straight.

“I thought I’d win out there. I won three in a row, but since then, I haven’t won in three or four events, but I’ve played OK,” said Couples, who lost in a playoff at the Senior PGA Championship at the end of May.

“I got on a nice little roll and, as usual, I don’t play much in the summer and my game pays the price, but I’m hoping to turn it around and play a little bit more in August and September,” he said.

After last playing at the Montreal Championship earlier this month, the Freddie Tour continues this week at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, which is expected to be a bear over the next four days due to its thick rough and sloping greens.

One fan mentioned to Couples that St. George’s was similar to Riviera near Los Angeles, but Couples saw a few differences in the characteristics.

“Riviera’s my favourite golf course. It’s got small greens. Riviera doesn’t have the rough like this, but they’re really small greens. This is much more demanding off the tee,” said Couples, adding that Riviera places more premium on the shot in, but St. George’s will be a test this week.

“I don’t expect to see too many low scores,” said Couples. “You may get the occasional couple of guys every day who shoot low, but overall in four rounds, to shoot 10 or 12-under, I think, is playing phenomenal golf,” said Couples, who has a fondness for Canada after kicking around B.C. as a junior.

“It was a long time ago,” he said. “I grew up in Seattle and that’s why I came up there and played. They had great junior programs and then, after that, I started playing in some of the (amateur tournaments) on some wonderful golf courses. I remember a lot of players —the (Richard) Zokols and the (Jim) Rutledges.”

“It was a short trip, getting out of Seattle, playing against those different players and having fun,” he said.

However, he’s happy to see the stature of the Open on the rise and a strong field arriving despite a date that required Golf Canada to have a charter jet ready to whisk players from the British Open at St. Andrews last weekend to Toronto.

“I don’t play in the British Open, so for me personally to go from Scotland to here and play two weeks in a row is just way too much, so I do give the guys a lot of credit who support this tournament and have flown over there and played, then come over here to Toronto. That’s a lot of work,” he said.

Cancuks at the Open: Page S10


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