Couples set for a record 32nd start at beloved Riviera

Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:05pm EST
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Fred Couples will add another chapter to his long love affair with Riviera Country Club when he extends his record number of Northern Trust Open starts to 32 at the fabled venue this week.

Couples eclipsed the previous mark of 30, first set by fellow American Gene Littler, when he played in the PGA Tour event last year and he was delighted to gain a spot in the 2014 edition via a sponsor's exemption.

"I'm lucky, this is my favorite tournament and I've played a lot of times, won a couple times," Couples, 54, told reporters after playing in the pro-am competition on Wednesday.

"Eventually I won't play in this and I'll watch the tournament as much as I can. I live a mile from here. But right now, I've played well here this morning. My goal is to try to hang with these guys.

"I have a great pairing tomorrow with Jordan (Spite) and Webb Simpson so it's very exciting for me with that pairing. We'll see what happens."

Former Masters champion Couples, who was the winner at Riviera in 1990 and 1992, was scheduled to tee off in Thursday's opening round from the first hole with fellow Americans Simpson and Spieth.

HONEY-SMOOTH SWING

Asked to assess his expectations for the week, the laid-back American with the honey-smooth swing replied: "I do expect to play well, I really do. It's my favorite course, I still hit the ball pretty far and I seem to be putting well.   Continued...

 
Fred Couples of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the British Open golf Championship at Muirfield in Scotland July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder