Being completely biased and partisan, we see a direct link from Couples’ early success as an amateur player in the Pacific Northwest to his victory in the 1992 Masters.
For the Seattle-native Couples, it all began when he was a boy at the driving range at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course, where he was casually employed. He’d whack the range balls out there, and then whack them back.
“You are as a golfer where you came from,” he said. “Jefferson Park had tight fairways and small greens. My iron play has always been the strongest part of my game and I realize it is good because of the golf I had to play as a kid.”
Couples’ record as a young amateur is impressive:
- 1976 PNGA Junior Boys’ Amateur– Champion
- 1977 Washington Junior Golf Association – Champion
- 1978 BC Junior Boys’ Amateur – Champion
- 1978 Washington Amateur – Champion
- 1978 Washington Open – Champion
- 1979 BC Amateur – Champion
- 1979 U.S. Open – Low Amateur
- 1980 U.S. Amateur – Medalist
In early April of 1992, Couples was the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, the first American to be so ranked. Even though he had yet to win a major, he teed it up in the first round of the ’92 Masters as the odds-on favorite.
After shooting in the 60s the first three rounds (69-67-69), Couples entered the final round in second place, one shot back of leader Craig Parry.
His most famous moment of that final round came when his golf ball defied gravity by not rolling back into Rae’s Creek on the par-3 12th hole after his tee shot landed short of the green. He saved par on the hole, and went on to a 2-shot victory over Raymond Floyd.
The Masters was Couples’ only major win – the win in ’92 propelled him to his second consecutive PGA TOUR Player of the Year award. He once said the Masters was his favorite tournament – he has played in it 34 times, making the cut 30 times, and has 11 top-10 finishes. In 2013, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Couples retains close ties to Seattle, cheering for the Seattle sports teams (raising the 12th Man flag at a Seahawks game on Dec 2, 2013), ever crediting his early golf here for his success, and willing to help with local promotion and charity (he recently gave $20,000 to The First Tee chapter at Jefferson Park GC, his boyhood course).
Fred Couples’ Final Round in the 1992 Masters:
Tribute to Fred Couples prior to the 2018 Masters:
Tom Cade is the editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, which is published by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA). He is also the senior director of communications for the PNGA and Washington Golf. From 2010-2015 he served as president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, and in 2016 received the NWGMA Distinguished Service Award. He was the editor and publisher of America’s St. Andrews, the best-selling book about Chambers Bay and the 2015 U.S. Open. He also was editor of the Centennial history book for Inglewood Golf Club (published 2019). He is a regular member of the Golf Writers Association of America.