He has played seven events on the Champions Tour this year, has been in the top five in six of them and comes into the US Senior Open on Thursday off three straight runner-up finishes.
”I would like to win something,” he said on Wednesday, adding that he even came in second in a member-guest tournament in California last month.
Couples’ most recent victory was just under a year ago at the 2012 Senior British Open.
He said his bothersome back was fine, so if the man nicknamed ”Boom Boom” for his prodigious drives can find the fairway at Omaha Country Club, no one would be surprised if this is the week he breaks through.
”Fred still hits the ball a tremendous distance,” Bernhard Langer said. ”He hasn’t lost any distance, maybe gained some with the equipment and all that. He’s capable of producing very low scores. Wherever he tees up, he’s one of the main favorites, no doubt about it.”
Couples, Langer, Kenny Perry, Tom Watson and David Frost are among the top contenders at the 6,700-yard, par-70 Omaha Country Club.
The fourth of the five senior majors will be a test of stamina for the 50-and-over golfers, especially with weekend highs forecast in the low 90s with high humidity. The course is hilly, featuring elevation and topographical changes that belie the popular image of the central plains.
”Nebraska, you’d think flat and hot,” Perry said. ”I got the hot part right, but it’s the hilliest golf course I’ve ever been on.”
Notable first-time entrants are Colin Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month and tied for ninth in the Senior Players Championship; Rocco Mediate, who lost a playoff to Tiger Woods in the classic 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines; and Duffy Waldorf, who has six top-10 finishes in 11 Champions Tour events this year.
Langer, the Champions Tour money leader, is trying to regain the form that helped him win twice in the spring. Langer, who won the US Senior Open in 2010 and tied for second last year, limited his practice to two nine-hole rounds because of the heat and humidity. He said the rough is as thick as ”anywhere in the world,” and even if there’s no wind a golfer could be in contention shooting par.
”I can’t see too many 64s, 65s out here,” he said. ”Even par is never a bad score in a US Senior Open. If someone gets really hot, because the greens might not get to the speed where they want them because of the heat, there might be a chance a couple of guys finish under par.”