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Fred Couples
Fred Couples.jpg
Personal information
Full name Frederick Steven Couples
Nickname Boom Boom
Born October 3, 1959 (1959-10-03) (age 50)
Seattle, Washington
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st)
Residence La Quinta, California
Spouse Thais Baker (died 2009)
College University of Houston
Turned professional 1980
Current tour(s) PGA Tour (joined 1982)
Champions Tour (joined 2010)
Professional wins 48
Number of wins by tour
PGA Tour 15
European Tour 2
Champions Tour 2
Best results in Major Championships
(Wins: 1)
The Masters Won: 1992
U.S. Open T3: 1991
Open Championship T3: 1991, 2005
PGA Championship 2nd: 1990
Achievements and awards
PGA Tour
Player of the Year
1991, 1992
PGA Player of the Year 1992
Vardon Trophy 1991, 1992
Byron Nelson Award 1991, 1992
PGA Tour
leading money winner

Frederick Steven Couples (born October 3, 1959) is an American professional golfer who competes on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. A former World No. 1, he has won numerous events, most notably the Masters Tournament in 1992.[1]



Couples was born in Seattle, Washington, to Tom and Violet (Sobich) Couples. Fred's paternal grandparents had immigrated from Italy, and changed the family name from "Copolla" to "Couples" to make it sound less Italian.[2] His mother is of Croatian descent.[3] His father was a groundskeeper for the Seattle Parks Department and the family, which included brother Tom, Jr., and sister Cindy, lived in a modest house on Beacon Hill. Nearby was the city's Jefferson Park golf course; here Fred developed his signature loose, rhythmic swing in order to gain enough distance to keep up with the older kids. Couples attended O'Dea High School in Seattle and the University of Houston, where, as a member of the Houston Cougars men's golf team, he roomed with Blaine McCallister, another future PGA Tour player, and future CBS television broadcaster Jim Nantz. His first PGA Tour victory came at the 1983 Kemper Open. He has amassed 15 total PGA Tour victories, including the The Players Championship twice (in 1984 and 1996) and one major victory, The Masters Tournament in 1992.

Couples has been named the PGA Tour Player of the Year twice, in 1991 and 1992. He also won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average each of those years. He has been named to the United States Ryder Cup team five times (1989, 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997).

In 1992, Couples spent 16 weeks at the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, after one of the hottest starts to a season by a PGA Tour player ever. Starting with the Nissan Los Angeles Open (where he defeated Davis Love III in a playoff), Fred won two tournaments and finished second in two others (plus broke the course record at the TPC at Sawgrass with a third-round 63 in The Players Championship) in the five weeks leading up to The Masters. At Augusta, Couples carried over his momentum, shooting in the 60s in each of the first three rounds to hold second place heading into Sunday. After a shaky start to his final round that allowed 49-year-old Raymond Floyd to claim the lead, Fred took it back with 18- and 20-foot birdie putts at the 8th and 9th holes, respectively, then saved par on a slick 6-footer at 10. At 12 (perhaps the scariest par-3 in the world), Couples barely cleared Rae's Creek in front of the green, but his ball stuck in the rough instead of rolling backwards into the hazard. Sensing that destiny was on his side, Couples held off Floyd the rest of the way, completing Augusta's treacherous back nine with eight pars and one birdie to win his first Major. The win pushed Couples past the $1 million mark in earnings on the season as well, by far the fastest any player had reached that plateau.

Couples is sometimes called "Mr. Skins" because of his dominance in the Skins Game. He has won the event five times (in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2004), accumulating US$3,515,000 and 77 skins in 11 appearances. Because of his dominance at the Skins and other off-season events like the Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship, Couples is also known as the "King of the Silly Season," referring to the exotic made-for-TV events staged in the winter that are better known as the "silly season". Couples was frequently accused of "choking" in his early career, with mistakes in the 1989 Ryder Cup and the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club often mentioned. However, he became the first American player to reach the number one position in the official World Rankings in 1992 (other Americans had, of course, previously been the world's number one player, from Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones to Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus; but the "official" World Ranking points system was only instituted long after the peak of their careers and simultaneously with the rise in worldwide golf beyond the U.S., Great Britain and Ireland). His only major, at The Masters that year, came with a stroke of good fortune at the 12th hole. Hitting an 8-iron, Couples' tee shot landed on the rough at the edge of Rae's Creek; although his ball rolled back towards the water, it incredibly remained on the bank.

Couples is a frequent visitor to the UK, and has an excellent record in the Open Championship, where he has finished several times in the top ten. His best places are tied 3rd in 1991 at Royal Birkdale -shooting a last round 64, and tied 3rd in 2005 at St Andrews. He completed his first visit to St Andrews in 1984 on a spectacular high by holing his approach at 18 for an eagle on the final day.

Back problems have, at least in part, truncated Couples' career. His swing features an extreme shoulder turn at the top, which, combined with the fact that he keeps his left foot flat on the ground throughout the backswing, puts a lot of pressure on his lower back. However, with an abbreviated schedule and a little help from swing coach Butch Harmon, Couples is still one of the best players on Tour. In 2003, at age 44, Couples finished 34th on the PGA Tour money list. That year he also won the Shell Houston Open, his first win in five years; Couples wept with joy after the win, but quickly explained the tears: "I'm always emotional when nice things happen to nice people," he quipped.

In April 2006, Couples challenged at Augusta, making a Sunday run at what would have been his second green jacket before finally bowing out to eventual winner Phil Mickelson, with whom he was paired in the final round. Had Couples won, he would have been the oldest player ever to win the Masters at age &0000000000000046.00000046 years, &0000000000000188.000000188 days—supplanting Jack Nicklaus, who, coincidentally, won his final Masters 20 years earlier and also at the age of 46. His competitiveness in the tournament was an encouraging sign for his career. "I didn't hit the ball like I was 46," Couples said.

Couples' part in the USA 1993 Dunhill Cup win included victory in all five of his matches, and his overall record reads: played 16, won 12, lost 4. In 2004, Couples won the Dunhill Links Championship Team Event at St Andrews, partnered by New Zealand amateur Craig Heatley.

In 2005 Couples sank a crucial putt in the Presidents Cup, securing an unlikely 1-up victory over the International team's best player, Vijay Singh. This match proved to be pivotal in the contest. Couples has now played Singh three times in Presidents Cup match play, and has yet to lose.

Fred Couples at the 2009 Telus World Skins Game in Lévis, Canada

Couples was sidelined for virtually the entire 2007 season because of health problems. However, he did compete in the 2007 Masters, making the cut for the 23rd consecutive time, tying the record held by Gary Player. Couples missed the cut in 2008 and 2009.

In 2009, Couples has limited his play but performed impressively at the Northern Trust Open. If it wasn't for Phil Mickelson shooting a 62 on that Saturday, Couples may have won instead of finishing third. He nearly won the Shell Houston Open but bogeyed the last three holes and finished third behind Paul Casey. He also played well at the HP Byron Nelson Championship (T8) and the AT&T National (T11) tournaments. He hurt his back practicing for the RBC Canadian Open and had to withdraw. But he rested and recovered and made the cut for the 2009 PGA Championship (T36) and performed successfully in the Wyndham Championship (T5) which put him past the $1,000,000 mark on the money list for the 7th time in his career.

Couples was named as 2009 Presidents Cup captain for the United States team on February 26, 2008 and led the Untited States team to a decisive victory.

Couples made his debut on the Champions Tour at the opening event of the 2010 season, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.[4] He nearly won the tournament, finishing second to Tom Watson. Couples later stated, "I had a wonderful time. I think I was 21 under par and didn't win a tournament. That hasn't happened too many times." Had he won, he would have become the 16th player to win his Champions Tour debut. He won his next two starts, The ACE Group Classic and the Toshiba Classic.

Couples currently resides in Palm Springs, California.

Because of his long drives, Couples has been given the nickname "Boom Boom". He co-designed the Lost Canyon Golf Course in Simi Valley, California, among many others around the world.


Couples' marriage to his first wife Deborah ended in 1992. They had met as students at the University of Houston in 1979. The divorce was finalized in 1993, and she later fell to her death in May 2001, ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles City coroner's office.[5]

Couples' estranged wife, Thais Baker, died from breast cancer on February 17, 2009. They had married in 1998 and the union was childless.


  • Couples enjoys a reputation for being one of the most laid-back, easygoing players on the PGA Tour. His best friend on Tour, Davis Love III, confirms this: "Everybody thinks Fred's relaxed on the golf course, but he's more tense on the golf course than anywhere. He's a relaxed guy."
  • Couples is an avid gardener. Couples learned gardening from his grandfather, who was a groundskeeper at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
  • Inducted into the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Professional wins (48)


PGA Tour wins (15)

Major Championships (1)
Other PGA Tour (14)
No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of Victory Runner(s)-up
1 Jun 5, 1983 Kemper Open -1 (71-71-68-77=287) Playoff Republic of China T.C. Chen, United States Barry Jaeckel,
United States Gil Morgan, United States Scott Simpson
2 Apr 1, 1984 Tournament Players Championship -11 (71-64-71-71=277) 1 stroke United States Lee Trevino
3 May 10, 1987 Byron Nelson Golf Classic -14 (65-67-64-70=266) Playoff United States Mark Calcavecchia
4 Feb 25, 1990 Nissan Los Angeles Open -18 (68-67-62-69=266) 3 strokes United States Gil Morgan
5 Jun 27, 1991 Federal Express St. Jude Classic -11 (68-67-66-68=269) 3 strokes United States Rick Fehr
6 Sep 22, 1991 B.C. Open -19 (66-67-68-68=269) 3 strokes United States Peter Jacobsen
7 Mar 1, 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open -15 (68-67-64-70=269) Playoff United States Davis Love III
8 Mar 22 1992 Nestle Invitational -19 (67-69-63-70=269) 9 strokes United States Gene Sauers
9 Apr 12, 1992 The Masters -13 (69-67-69-70=275) 2 strokes United States Raymond Floyd
10 Mar, 12 1993 Honda Classic* -3 (64-73-70=207) Playoff United States Robert Gamez
11 Aug 7, 1994 Buick Open -18 (72-65-65-68=270) 6 strokes United States Greg Kraft, United States Steve Pate,
United States Curtis Strange
12 Mar 31, 1996 The Players Championship -18 (66-72-68-64=270) 4 strokes Scotland Colin Montgomerie, United States Tommy Tolles
13 Jan 18, 1998 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic -28 (64-70-66-66-66=332) Playoff United States Bruce Lietzke
14 May 31, 1998 Memorial Tournament -17 (68-67-67-69=271) 4 strokes United States Andrew Magee
15 Apr 27, 2003 Shell Houston Open -21 (65-68-67-67=267) 4 strokes Australia Stuart Appleby, United States Mark Calcavecchia,
United States Hank Kuehne

*Note: The 1993 Honda Classic was shortened to 54 holes due to inclement weather

European Tour wins (2)

Other wins (29)

Champions Tour wins (2)

No. Date Tournament Winning Score Margin of Victory Runner(s)-up
1 Feb 14, 2010 The ACE Group Classic -17 (68-67-64=199) 1 stroke United States Tommy Armour III
2 Mar 7, 2010 Toshiba Classic -18 (66-64-65=195) 4 strokes United States Ronnie Black

Major championships

Wins (1)

Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runner(s)-up
1992 The Masters 1 shot deficit -13 (69-67-69-70=275) 2 strokes United States Raymond Floyd

Results timeline

Tournament 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
The Masters DNP DNP DNP DNP T32 10 T10 T31 DNP T5 T11
U.S. Open T48 LA DNP DNP CUT CUT T9 T39 DNP T46 T10 T21
The Open Championship DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4 DNP T46 T40 T4 T6
PGA Championship DNP DNP DNP T3 T23 T20 T6 T36 CUT CUT CUT
Tournament 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
The Masters 5 T35 1 T21 DNP T10 T15 T7 T2 T27
U.S. Open CUT T3 T17 T16 T16 CUT DNP T52 T53 CUT
The Open Championship T25 T3 CUT T9 DNP DNP T7 T7 T66 DNP
PGA Championship 2 T27 T21 T31 T39 T31 T41 T29 T13 T26
Tournament 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
The Masters T11 26 T36 T28 T6 T39 T3 T30 CUT CUT
The Open Championship 6 CUT DNP T46 DNP T3 CUT DNP DNP DNP
PGA Championship CUT T37 DNP T34 DNP T70 CUT DNP CUT T36

LA = Low Amateur
DNP = Did not play
CUT = missed the half-way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Summary of major championship performances

  • Starts – 86
  • Wins – 1
  • 2nd place finishes – 2
  • Top 3 finishes – 8
  • Top 5 finishes – 12
  • Top 10 finishes – 25
  • Longest streak of top-10s in majors – 3 (twice)

United States national team appearances

See also


  1. ^ "Champions". 
  2. ^ Seattle Times' Pacific Magazine, "The Couples Conundrum," 1997-07-20, p. 12-19
  3. ^ "Fred Couples". 
  4. ^ Champions Tour (2010-01-08). "Couples, Pavin set for official Champions Tour debut". Press release. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  5. ^ Sports Illustrated 2001-06-11

External links


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