Masters Notebook

Fred Couples says don’t count him out at Masters

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Oldie but goodie:</span> Fred Couples, 54, the 1992 Masters champion, is 1-under after a 73 on Saturday and trails the leaders by four shots.
Oldie but goodie: Fred Couples, 54, the 1992 Masters champion, is 1-under after a 73 on Saturday and trails the leaders by four shots.
Matt Slocum / AP

Special to the Miami Herald

Fred Couples will go into the final round of the Masters still in contention to become the oldest champion in tournament history after avoiding the sort of Saturday swoon that took him out of the mix the last two years.

At 54 and playing mostly on the Champions Tour these days, Couples still believes he has a chance to win a second Masters title, 22 years after he won his first and only major championship here in 1992. He’s always said Augusta National is his all-time favorite golf course and the Masters the most special event of all.

Couples posted third rounds of 75 and 77 in 2012 and 2013, respectively, when he either led or was in second place in the tournament after 36 holes. But there was no such meltdown this day. He came in with a 1-over-par 73 and was at 1-under 215 after 54 holes, only four shots behind co-leaders Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth going into Sunday’s final 18.

“I’m playing some pretty good golf,” Couples said, “and I have a shot [Sunday] of shooting some silly round to maybe win. It’s going to take a 65 or 66, but you never know. … It feels like my first year. It’s always exciting and this year is no different. For me, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Smiles for Stadler

Craig Stadler, the 1982 champion, was 15-over after 36 holes and missed the cut here for the seventh consecutive year. Still, he’s going to be smiling his way around all weekend at Augusta National, watching his 34-year-old son, Kevin, compete in his first Masters.

Stadler said the 2014 Masters almost certainly will be his last, with one possible caveat, though he will still continue to play on the Champions Tour.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is it,” he said. “I’m done. But if they call me weeks before and say, ‘We want to pair you with Kevin,’ I would probably play. I’d think that would be the only way.”

The elder Stadler believes Augusta National is a nice fit for his son’s game, and with Kevin staying in contention Saturday with a 72 that left him four off the lead at 1-under 215 in a four-way tie for 10th place, that now seems obvious.

Impressive amateur

Rory McIlroy, considered among the favorites heading into the tournament, was first off the tee in the third round after making the cut on the number. He finished in under 3 1/2 hours and was beaten by a shot by the man who accompanied him — a noncompeting marker, Augusta native and club member Jeff Knox, one of the finest amateurs in the area.

McIlroy shot 1-under 71 and needed birdies on three of his last four holes to do it. Knox, who holds the course record of 61 from the member’s tees, posted a 70, and drew effusive praise from his far better-known playing partner.

“Jeff is a great player,” said McIlroy, a two-time major champion. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putt these greens as well as he does around here, really impressive. I was thinking of getting him to read a few of my putts out there. He played really well and couldn’t have been more helpful.”

McIlroy is at 3-over 219 and said his goal is a Sunday round in the 60s, get into under-par numbers and possibly improve on his best finish here, a tie for 15th in 2011 when he led after 54 holes but posted 80 in the final round.

Read more Golf stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the eighth hole, during the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Akron, Ohio.

    A solid start for Woods, the lead for Leishman

    Tiger Woods began his title defense in the Bridgestone Invitational with a perfect tee shot down the middle of the fairway and a shot that covered the flag until it settled 10 feet behind the hole. Three putts later, he walked off with a bogey.

  • Golf Capsules

    Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Not just from back surgery, but from making bogeys.

  • Phil Mickelson battling sickness from too many high fives

    If Phil Mickelson ends up winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational this year, he might have to get a bit creative with how he congratulates people.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category