68 at 53 'not surprising' to Couples

dscott@charlotteobserver.comApril 12, 2013 

  • Weather

    Chance of showers in the morning, with a high of 80 in the afternoon.

    Television

    ESPN, 3-7 p.m.

— Fred Couples is playing in his 29th Masters and – just like he did in his 28th – he’s playing well again.

After shooting a 4-under-par 68 Thursday, Couples is part of a six-way tie for fourth place. Even at the advanced age of 53, that’s not too much of a revelation for Couples, who led the tournament after two rounds last year before fading Sunday to a 12th-place finish.

“It’s not surprising,” he said of his play. “I’m going to come out (Friday) and do everything I can to keep this thing going because I know I can play this course. If I hit it like that, I can play it every day.”

Couples, as usual, had huge crowds following him all day.

“I look around, I enjoy it,” he said. “When you’re playing well, it’s easier to see them. This is a good spot for me. The people get me fired up and they yell hard and they’re everywhere.”

Notes

He likes the majors: England’s David Lynn, playing in his first Masters, led for a while with a 4-under 68 and is tied for fourth with Rickie Fowler, Couples and three others.

Lynn seems to like playing in majors – he finished second in last year’s PGA Championship, his only other major.

“Every golfer … believes that they have performances in them as good as the top guy,” said Lynn, who birdied four of five holes in the middle of his round. “I’ve always believed I could perform well. I just don’t do it consistently enough.”

Lynn, 39, has played on the European Tour since 1996, with just one victory. His strong finish at the PGA – he was runner-up to Rory McIlroy – convinced him to play in the United States this season. He tied for fourth at the Honda Classic, his best finish.

Good day for Guan: China’s Guan Tianlang, 14, shot a one-over 73, including a birdie on 18. He got help from local caddie Brian Tam, who has plenty of experience at Augusta National.

Guan is thinking big. He doesn’t think he can win the Masters this year, in his first attempt, but there will be other chances.

“I want to win a major,” he said. “Hopefully I can win all four majors in one year.”

An ace: Welshman Jamie Donaldson had a hole-in-one on the 180-yard sixth hole. The ace helped him to a 2-over 74.

Oops: Playing partners Fowler and Padraig Harrington had an interesting thing happen on the 18th green: They hit their balls at the same time.

“My caddie wasn’t looking over to Padraig and it was just funny,” said Fowler. “I saw my ball flying up to the top tier (of the green) and there’s a ball cruising across the back of the green. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Observations

• We learned a few things Thursday, among them: Guan is a special talent, Couples still has something left and Tiger Woods (four strokes back) is very much alive in his attempt to win a fifth Masters.

• Let’s hope the rainy weather that might be around Friday morning doesn’t mess with the schedule too much.

By the numbers

9: Players from the ACC playing in the Masters (Georgia Tech leads the way with three: Matt Kuchar, Stewart Cink, Larry Mize).

13: Fairways hit by David Toms and Bernhard Langer, most of anyone.

317.5: Average driving distance of Dustin Johnson and Thorbjorn Olesen, longest of the day.

Quoting

“I gave the jacket up two weeks ago when I was here. Nobody owns the jacket. Everybody is playing for it now.” – Defending champion Bubba Watson.

“If I hit it into a tree, there’s no chance of getting to that because the branches are 60 feet high.” – Sergio Garcia, who climbed a tree at Bay Hill in March to hit a ball that had lodged there.

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