Fred Couples made a poor decision on the par 5 No.2 — the easiest hole of the week — where he carded a triple-bogey 8 to shoot himself out of the tournament quickly. When he spoke to reporters next to the clubhouse, he was still startled that he decided to lay up and if you could give him a do over, he would go for the green in two no matter where his drive ended up.
“Going down the third hole I was asking my caddie if I ever laid up on a par-5,” he said. “And I did it on the second hole and walked away with an 8. It had nothing to do with the play I made. I’m kind of shocked…I was in the first cut of rough and I didn’t know if I could control that so I chose to layup. I laid up to a perfect 69 yards or maybe a little too close. But the ground was hard and I just totally chunked it. Then it became a comedy of errors.”
Call it nerves or what you will. At least it happened earlier rather than later. By the end of the day, it made it easier to get over than something like a missed five-footer on the 70th hole. The fans and Freddie had three hours and 16 holes to recover.
“I’m over the golf already, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of nice things happen, but, you know, it took me a while to get over the 2nd hole while I was playing, but now it’s gone.”
The fans still stayed around to cheer him on and there was a twinge of hope that Fred would get something magical to happen. Even on the 16th hole when Langer held a three-shot lead.
Sitting on the hill to the right of the green, I watched the two hit their approaches. Freddie didn’t like his, letting one hand slip off the club in his follow-through. He had about a 30-footer downhill for birdie. Knowing it was a must-make, he took his time, reading it carefully. I watched for his reaction after the ball left the putter face. “He likes it,” I thought to myself.
When the ball disappeared, the crowd jumped up with glee. “Freddie! Freddie!” fans started chanting.
A half hour after play had ended, there were still heaps of people that stuck around by the clubhouse — “Love you, Freddie!” they yelled.
That darn second hole.
[Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images]