Fred Couples was walking briskly down No. 15 fairway when a woman leaned over to the man next to her and said: “I’d marry him.”
“I’d marry him, too,” the man responded. ‘‘Maybe we could both be married to him.”
Call him Freddie. Call him Boom Boom. Call him cool. But make sure to call the 53-year-old Couples 5-under after two days of the 2013 Masters Tournament.
“I have no idea why people think I’m cool,” Couples said.
Bentley Cotton, 11, of Austin, Texas, does.
After signing his card of 1-under 71 on Friday afternoon, Couples, the 1992 Masters Tournament champion, went straight to Bentley and talked with her.
“My dad (Jimbo) played golf with Fred at my country club in Austin one day,” said Bentley, who plays a lot of golf. “And Fred wanted to meet me. We just got here to the course and saw him on No. 18. When he came over, I was pretty happy since I hadn’t seen him in a year.”
“That was nice to see Bentley,” Couples said.
Couples had a nice day himself. After opening Thursday with 4-under 68, his fifth round in the 60s at Augusta National since turning 50, he was as up and down Friday as the fairways he walked.
Couples was happy to end his roller-coaster day with 71.
“It was hard out there today,” Couples said. “I felt very good with what I shot. I had a couple little hiccups out there and some other good things to shoot my score. But you know the golf course is winning today.”
Couples double-bogeyed No. 7, falling to 2-under for the tournament. But his 2-putt from 100 feet for birdie at the par-5 eighth provided the momentum needed to get home in 3-under over the final 11 holes. He topped his day with a birdie at No. 18.
“The putt at No. 8 was a sigh of relief,” Couples said. “From then on I played really, really well.”
Playing well is not how Couples arrived on the Augusta National grounds. Playing poorly is why he played a Sunday practice round for the first time in his 29 Masters Tournaments.
Couples said he normally arrives late Sunday, or early Monday, and starts off with a nine-hole afternoon practice round.
He was joined Sunday by his coach, Paul Marchand. The normal routine for a coach is to watch some shots on the range of the golfer, then head off outside the ropes like a patron to watch the player.
“I was surprised how many guys were playing Sunday,” Couples said. “This time (Paul and I) walked stride for stride. Sometimes when you take it on the range it’s easy to hit 50 balls well, one after another. Then you go out and spray it all over the place. I found a little confidence.”
A couple of days later, Couples and Marchand decided the strategy would be to swing as hard as he could while driving.
“So that’s what I’ve been doing,” Couples said.
Couples said his experience – Friday was his 110th competitive round at Augusta National – will certainly help the next two days. He said that if he wins, he will pretty much quit competitive golf.
“I am really excited where I’m at (after two rounds),” Couples said. “I’ve said it my whole life. This is my favorite spot in the world. But yeah, I would quit. I’m going to quit when I win this thing.”
To his many fans, Couples can quit golf, but he will never quit being cool.