ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jim Furyk took a gander at the faded, but hardly forgotten, name at the top of the leaderboard. His reaction doubtlessly counted for plenty and spoke for many.
|Of Thursday's round, Fred Couples says, 'It's not like I fell off of the turnip truck, playing.' (AP)|
Fred Couples, looking more like Freddie Krueger, the guy who just won't die, resurrected himself again Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Furyk suppressed a smirk when asked for his take upon spying the name of creaky old Couples, 48, at the top of the Bay Hill Club & Lodge scoreboard. OK, so he wasn't exactly wistful.
"I didn't shed a tear for him," Furyk cracked. "But I'm happy for him."
If Couples plays as well over the next few days as he did on Thursday, there will some moist eyes among his competitors -- and not just because he'll be taking their money.
Couples shot a 5-under 65 in the first round to take the lead in the morning wave, recording his best round in more than two years and tying J.J. Henry for low score of the day. Pretty good for a guy who spent last season on golf's version of the disabled list and didn't finish a tournament after the month of April.
As Furyk said, Couples is sort of like Mount St. Helens, the occasionally active volcano located in Freddie's home state of Washington.
That is, there's a big difference between dormant and dead.
"It's not like I fell off of the turnip truck, playing," Couples said.
OK, so he's not a vegetable.
But for most of the past two years, he has hardly been an animal, either. After battling eventual winner Phil Mickelson down the stretch at the 2006 Masters, Couples blew out his back in his next start and has mostly logged intermittent appearances since, health permitting. Last year, for instance, he played in three official events while seeking an answer for his chronic back issues.
His opening round Thursday was his lowest since he shot 65 on Saturday in 2006 in Los Angeles, where he finished fourth.