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At 54, Couples tries for second Masters win

AUGUSTA, Ga. It’s not out of the question Fred Couples, 54, could win his second Masters this weekend.

Just ask Couples.

“I’m not here just to play golf and think that I can’t compete on this course,” said Couples. “I can’t compete with these guys over a year, but on one week I can compete and I have to do it (Saturday).”

Age, obviously, isn’t an issue with Couples, who has played in just one other PGA Tour event this season (the Northern Trust Open, where he missed the cut). He’s already won one Champions Tour tournament, the Toshiba Classic.

He’s played well early in each of the past two Masters, but faded on the weekend each time. He finished tied for 12th after leading on Friday in 2012, and tied for 13th after being second after the second round in 2013.

“I’m averaging 76 the last two Saturdays, which is not very good,” said Couples. “So my approach will be to average anything lower than that to bring my average down.”

Couples laughed.

“It’s a really, really hard course. You panic and then try and do a couple of things because, oh, God, I was tied for the lead or in second. Now I’m in 12th place. And then you try and hit a shot and it doesn’t work out. And you go to 18th place. You can’t do that.”

Notes

• Phil Mickelson missed his first Masters cut since 1997 and was the biggest name to miss the weekend. Mickelson, a three-time champion, had a two-day total of 149, 5-over par (one shot below the cut line). Two triple bogeys and a double contributed to his demise.

“That’s the kind of stuff when you’re playing tournament golf that you don’t do,” said Mickelson, whose next major will be June’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he will be going for the career Grand Slam. “And that’s the kind of stuff I seem to be doing right now.”

Other notables who missed the cut: Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Jason Dufner. Simpson, a Charlotte resident, started the tournament with three consecutive birdies.

• Former Duke golfer Kevin Streelman was near the top of the leader board Friday morning. Playing in the first group of the day, Streelman had birdies on holes No. 2 and 4, taking him to 2-under for the tournament. He ended up with a 1-under 71. He’s tied for 10th.

“It was really nice,” said Streelman, who graduated from Duke in 2001. “It was very cold, obviously. But I knew the wind was going to pick up (Friday) afternoon and the greens are always beautiful here. But to be the first ones on the greens here, especially, makes for a lot easier putting.”

• Among the stranger outcomes was Australian Marc Leishman. Leishman birdied the first three holes Friday and was 3-under and just one stroke off the lead. He was 10-over the rest of the day, finishing with a 7-over 79 for a two-day total of 149 and missing the cut.

Weather

Partly cloudy, high of 82 on Saturday. No chance of rain, with winds at 6 mph.

Quoting

“I can’t say that it was harder than yesterday. I just didn’t execute shots.” – First-round leader Bill Haas, who shot 78 to fall nine shots behind leader Bubba Watson.

“Lefties are the best!” – Bubba Watson, a southpaw, when asked if that’s an advantage at Augusta National.

“On this type of golf course, you know that can happen.” – Louis Oosthuizen, who fell off the leaderboard two holes after he made a an eagle on No. 13 (he made a triple bogey 8 on No. 15).

 

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