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The surprising reason Fred Couples cited for his hot Masters start

One of the unique traditions of the Masters is that past champions are invited for life, allowing many to continue competing well into their 60s. And some, like Fred Couples, defy age and compete to make the cut or even win the prestigious tournament.



After a solid opening round of 71 on Thursday morning, the 63-year-old golfer has now started the Masters with a round of par or better for the seventh time since turning 50. However, this was his first time achieving this feat since 2018.



Couples didn’t have the smoothest start, as he made bogeys on the 5th and 9th holes. But he quickly turned things around by hitting a precise approach shot on the iconic 12th hole, leading to a birdie. This sparked a run of four birdies in six holes, showcasing his skill and experience. Unfortunately, a three-putt on the 18th hole resulted in a disappointing end to his round.



If Couples can deliver another solid performance on Friday, he stands a good chance of making the cut at Augusta for the first time since 2018.

When asked about the inspiration behind his good form, Couples attributed it to his playing partners in the first round, Russell Henley and Alex Noren.



“I had a beautiful pairing. I didn’t know them personally,” Couples said. “I always enjoy watching Russell Henley play because he’s a captivating golfer. When he takes the lead, he usually finishes strong. And Alex Noren, I simply admire everything about him.”



At first, it might seem like Couples is complimenting his fellow players from Thursday’s round. However, his next statement adds an interesting twist to his words.

“Why is that? Well, because neither of them overwhelms you with greatness,” Couples explained.



Wait, what?

Indeed, Henley and Noren are not considered the best players in the world, and neither outperformed Couples on Thursday. Henley finished with a 73, while Noren struggled with a 78. So, Couples’ statement isn’t entirely inaccurate. Nevertheless, it was an intriguing choice of words.



“I don’t think they would mind me saying that,” Couples added quickly.

Couples went on to explain that playing alongside Henley and Noren made him feel comfortable and confident, as he believed he could compete with them without being overshadowed by golfers who consistently drive the ball 320 yards.



In the first round, Henley averaged 280 yards off the tee, while Noren managed an average of 285 yards on holes 5 and 15. Surprisingly, Couples turned out to be the longest hitter in the group, averaging 293 yards on those two holes.



Regardless of the reasons behind his resurgent form, which included shooting a remarkable 60 in the final round of a PGA Tour Champions event last fall, this is a promising sign for Couples. In six out of the seven times he has made the cut since turning 50, he has finished in the top 20.



However, will the comfort of playing alongside Henley and Noren continue into the next round? Couples hesitated to make assumptions.

“Tomorrow may be different,” he said. “I know Alex had a rough start, but he’s an extremely skilled and capable player. Teeing off at 8:36 was ideal for me as long as I could start at that time.”



In conclusion, Fred Couples’ good form at the Masters has been fueled by a comfortable pairing with Russell Henley and Alex Noren, which has given him the confidence to compete with them. Whether this partnership will continue to benefit Couples in the upcoming rounds remains uncertain, but his strong start bodes well for his chances at the tournament.

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