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On-the-mend Couples returns to Shaw Charity Classic: ‘I feel like I’ll do well here’

For Fred Couples, this was a career-first.
Not necessarily one worth celebrating.
Couples, a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee and always a marquee attraction at the Shaw Charity Classic presented by Rogers, just returned to action after hernia surgery in early July.



He’s still in some discomfort when he walks. He’ll rely on his caddie to do the bulk of the green-reading this week, because it doesn’t feel so swell to bend over.But he didn’t want to miss the annual PGA Tour Champions stop in Calgary, an event that he considers to be among the best on the senior circuit.

“I can still feel this mesh in there, and it’s a really odd feeling,” Couples said, pointing to his abdomen. “I’ve never had a surgery in my life and this was probably one of the smallest surgeries a human being can get, a hernia surgery. But for me, it’s a little freaky.
“But I feel OK. I’m swinging fine. I feel like I’ll do well here.” That’s right — Couples, at age 63 and after four-plus decades as a professional athlete, had never previously been under the knife.



“Well, I’ve been told for 20 years that I need a back surgery,” he reminded. “And I keep saying, ‘No chance.’ ” Whenever he’s in the field in Calgary, it feels like there’s a chance — a darn good chance — that ‘Boom Boom’ could rocket to the top of the leaderboard.
Couples owns a share of the course record at Canyon Meadows, a rip of 9-under 61. He was white-hatted as tournament champion in 2014.

This smooth-as-silk fan fave can still go low, something he proved yet again in April when he made history as the oldest player to ever survive the cut at The Masters. (He has a Green Jacket in his locker at Augusta, so he certainly knows his way around that iconic venue.)



After skipping several events due to that hernia surgery, Couples knocked off the rust with a T26 performance last weekend in Seattle. He is, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, in one of Friday’s feature groups — he’ll stroll the fairways with defending tournament champion Jerry Kelly and longtime local Stephen Ames. They’ll blast their first shots at 10:25 a.m., and Couples stressed that you can’t afford a sluggish start.

“On this tour, you’ve got to really be careful what you’re doing because if you have a so-so nine holes, you just get lapped,” he told reporters prior to Thursday’s pro-am. “This whole thing, it’s a blast. These are sprints, 54 holes. And you will rarely see a guy shoot 72 or 73 on the first day and win a tournament out here. You’re just too far behind.
“It’s going to take a lot of good scores here. I heard the course is absolutely perfect.”

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