'Why not?' Couples says on winning Masters at 54

Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:49pm EDT
 
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By Larry Fine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Fred Couples carried on his love affair with Augusta National by shooting a one-under 71 in Thursday's first round of the Masters and then posed a question that would have thrilled his legion of fans.

"Can a 50-year-old win here? I think so. I'm one of them," said Couples, the 1992 champion whose silky smooth swing and laid back demeanor has made him a fan favorite.

"I'm not here just to play golf. I love the course and I would say my 71 is in pretty darn good shape."

Couples, 54, is playing in his 30th Masters and has played well at Augusta in recent years, leading some to wonder if he might be able to take over as the oldest Masters winner from Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he won his sixth in 1986.

The American has finished in the top 15 each of the last three years, holding the 36-hole lead in 2012 on his way to a tie for 12th, and he finished in sixth place in 2010.

In 29 Masters, the long-hitting Couples has registered 11 top-10 finishes.

It was also a strong day for Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez, 50, who made the turn at four under par before stalling at Amen Corner with a bogey at 11 and a double-bogey at the par-three 12th to join Couples on 71.

Scotsman Sandy Lyle, the 1988 winner, reached three under par by the fourth hole with three successive birdies before slipping back.   Continued...