The Loop

Couples: 'I'm not going to not'

February 15, 2008

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Fred Couples' 48-year-old back may have a tendency to stiffen up, but his locution remains as supple as ever, his sentences bending in directions that would challenge English teachers attempting to diagram them.

After his round in the Northern Trust Open on Friday, Couples was asked how much longer he'll continue to play at Riviera C.C., now that the Champions Tour is on the horizon.

"I have two more years I hope," he said, "and then next year when I'm 50, I don't know where the seniors are. If they give me a spot (in the Northern Trust), I'd rather play here than a senior event. So I'll be here a couple more years at least. It's my favorite course. I'm not going to not."

Not going to not?

"I'm not going to not play," he replied. "They are going to have to keep me from not playing."

Understood. Couples is not going to not play a golf course on which he has won twice and finished second on three occasions. Consecutive rounds of one-under-par 70 that easily advanced him to the weekend will only reinforce his affection for Riviera. Couples is tied for 23rd, eight shots behind leader Phil Mickelson.

Meanwhile, his back has been cooperating of late to a degree that has him optimistic about the future.

"I've got a heat pack on it right now, which feels good," he said. "But I think this will be a nice year. If I can get through it, I'll be very happy about that."

--John Strege