‘He's Here To Win’ - Fred Couples Gives Glowing Verdict On Tiger Woods' Masters Chances

The 1992 Masters champion was impressed with what he saw after playing a practice round with Tiger Woods

 Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, and Fred Couples during a practice round at Augusta National
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tiger Woods isn’t at the 2024 Masters just to make the cut. He's here to win. 

That’s the assessment of Fred Couples after he played a nine-hole practice round with Woods and Justin Thomas on Tuesday.

Couples, 64, says he had “a good time” catching up with his pals Woods and Thomas ahead of his 39th appearance at the Masters this week.

The 1992 Masters champion was in awe of his younger counterparts – “Tiger is hitting it pure; JT is bombing it” – and believes that Woods, in particular, is looking a lot stronger than he did last year, when he was forced withdraw due to a plantar fasciitis injury during his third round at a wet Augusta National.

“I don't stare at his gait much, but he just hits it so good,” Couples said of Woods. 

“He said his back is doing okay. I think last year it was so bad that a lot of things just wore him down, playing in that rain, moving around slowly, sluggish. The tee times where maybe he couldn't get work done, and we were out here and doing all that.

“But this year he looks strong, and he's excited to play, and I think he looks really, really good.”

Woods has the chance to make history with his 24th straight made cut at the Masters this week. He currently shares the record of 23 consecutive cuts made with Couples and Gary Player.

When asked about the record, Couples made it clear that it was the last thing on Woods’ mind. 

“Well, I will say this: I think the last thing he's thinking about is making the cut. I don't know how the weather is supposed to be. I don't know if it's supposed to be perfect or not, but I don't think it matters to him. He can play well in winds and rain and all that.

“Can he win here? You know what, yeah. I just watched him play nine holes, and nine holes is only nine holes on a Tuesday, but he never mis-hits a shot. But the idea of making a cut, I think he would laugh at that because he's not here to [do that]. That's a huge record, but he's here to win. He's here to play really, really hard.

“From what I see – I don't ask him much. We always talk about Sam or Charlie; very rarely how is your ankle. His ankle is bad. We know it. But it looks like he's here, he's going to walk 72 holes, and if he keeps playing like that, he'll be a factor.”

Fred Couples and Tiger Woods during a practice round at the 2023 Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to his own game, Couples isn’t expecting too much from this week as he continues to battle a back injury he suffered almost four years ago during a Champions Tour event.

“I had some cortisone shots last week, several of them. I don't know how much it did,” he said.

“It's just been there forever. I don't really understand it. I'm going to get an MRI when I get home next week.”

Despite his back issues, Couples showcased that he can still perform at the highest level at the Masters last year when he became the oldest player to make the cut, eventually finishing in a tie for 50th. He’s still planning on giving it his best go this week.

“The last thing I want to do is come out and embarrass myself by a bad score. I know I can hit the ball. What is that? I don't know if that's a 73 or a 75, but I'm not shooting 80. There's no way. I'm just not that kind of person. I wouldn't do that. Can I shoot 80? Of course I can. But I'm not planning on it.

“But I feel okay. Again, the nine holes, maybe playing with Tiger – I was being outdriven by I don't even know how far, but I was hitting it solid and getting it around. I have to putt good. I'd better putt good.”

Joel Kulasingham
News Writer

Joel Kulasingham is freelance writer for Golf Monthly. He has worked as a sports reporter and editor in New Zealand for more than five years, covering a wide range of sports including golf, rugby and football. He moved to London in 2023 and writes for several publications in the UK and abroad. He is a life-long sports nut and has been obsessed with golf since first swinging a club at the age of 13. These days he spends most of his time watching, reading and writing about sports, and playing mediocre golf at courses around London.