AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Either way, I guess Steve Stricker was safe if he called Fred Couples a "leader."
Two years ago, Couples served as the captain of the Presidents Cup team, and Stricker was a key member. But after what Couples wrought on Friday at Augusta National, he's again the old-fashioned type of leader, too.
Couples shot a 4-under 68 on Frieday and is right back where he annually seems to be, despite his age, balky back and occasional disinterest -- among those atop the Masters scoreboard.
It's not quite every year without fail, but it sure seems that way. Couples was sixth last year as a 50-year-old, and was in the mix deep into the back nine in 2006, then he eventually finished T3 after his putter betrayed him.
Stricker played with Couples the first two days and was amazed at how well Couples can still contend out here with the younger set.
"He still hits it really well, has a lot of length, is a good iron player, and putts it great," Stricker said. "It was cool."
Stricker didn't hesitate when asked if he thinks Couples -- who won the Masters some 19 years ago -- has enough gas to finish this thing off on the weekend.
"I think he can, the way he's hitting it," Stricker said. "He's won here before, so that has to give him a little confidence."
Couples was blowing it past the younger Stricker and Luke Donald off the tee, not that either are particularly long hitters, as Stricker admits. But still.
"He can still step on it if he wants to," Stricker said. "And he has a good attitude around here."
Couples will again serve as the Presidents Cup captain later this fall in Australia, and Stricker will likely make the team.
"If he wanted to, if his back was in good enough shape, he could probably make the team," Stricker said.