Tiger Woods and Fred Couples are close. But Couples reveals 1 argument 

From left, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas during a practice round ahead of last year's Masters.

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Tiger Woods and Fred Couples are close. And closeness can bring benefits that maybe neither can enjoy with others. 

Like the time Couples pranked Woods. Then didn’t give him the reveal for two years. In September, Couples shared the story of a moment from the 2009 Presidents Cup, where Couples was U.S. captain and Woods was a U.S. player. 

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For background, captains in these events place a name in an envelope ahead of play in case of injury, in order to keep the number of players on each side balanced, though the name is almost never made public. And Woods, at the time, was world No. 1. You know where this is going. 

“I’m the captain, first-time captain. We’ve got Tiger Woods on the team,” Couples began on a video shared by the Presidents Cup Twitter account. “At the beginning of the week, in case of injury, you put a name in an envelope. I’m the only guy in the room with [Greg] Norman [the International team captain]. He puts a name in, I put a name in and we give them to the head official, Steve Carman. So anyway, as the story goes, we go on and we go on and we win Sunday night. 

“Steve Carman comes in and he has to give the envelope back to the captain. We’re in the room hootin’ and hollerin’. He pulls me aside and I know what he’s gonna say: ‘Here’s your envelope.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you open it up in front of everyone and read the name in there?’

“So he tears it open and he reads it and it’s Tiger Woods. The whole room went silent. They thought I was such a clown that I put Tiger Woods in there as the guy who wouldn’t play on Sunday in case of an injury.”

Really? Well … 

“So I didn’t tell the story for two full years,” Couples continued. “So we somehow unhooked the envelope and I took the name out of there. It was someone who was a [captain’s] pick, and I put Tiger’s name in there. He texted me for weeks: ‘Dude, you’ve got the biggest b***s of anyone I’ve ever seen.’

“I went, ‘You know what? Why not put your name in. I thought I’d stir things up.’ So that went for years. I finally told the story. I took a lot of heck for it, but for two years I had everyone thinking I put Tiger Woods’ name in the envelope.”

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Good stuff. It goes the other way, too. 

To set this one up, Couples plays a yellow golf ball, and the majority of players use white ones. You know where this is going too. 

“We give [Fred] grief all the time about using the yellow ball,” Woods said recently on Bridgestone Golf’s Another Golf Podcast. “But he absolutely loves it because he can’t see anymore. You should see the font on his phone; it’s like one letter per screen.”

And on and on. On this week’s episode of Another Golf Podcast, Couples dug more deeply into the relationship. 

“And while we were at lunch, I asked him, you know, Tiger, I’m going to ask you: Do many people call you up and want to spend time with you? You know, because I enjoy the time,” Couples said on the podcast. “And sometimes I ask him a question, and it might be, never like stinger 2-iron, but just — you know, we laugh at players struggle hitting a 9-iron 139 yards when they want to take a gap wedge or a wedge and just hit it as hard as they can. And again, they’re the best players so I get it. But Tiger Woods will completely show you how to play golf. 

“And even as I got older, older, older, you know I was around him a lot, whether it was a captain — and it is true: I put him in spots where he won the clinching point for three-straight Presidents Cups, which is kind of a really cool feeling. Because the thing is over and you’re hugging Tiger and everyone’s going crazy and you happen to say, wow, I put Tiger in the right position to win and get the clinching point. 

“But I think people will see the side that I’ve seen for 20 years now because hopefully he can still play. It doesn’t look like he’s going to play a lot. But he can still golf and he’s still Tiger Woods. But I’ve seen it, how friendly and how nice he is. Some people ask, you know, what’s he really like? And I’m around here today saying, jeez, I wish Tiger could go first so he could get home; you know, he lives down the street; we should take more care of him because he’s the best player to ever play and he’s using Bridgestone and I’ll go last — that’s how I feel. And he comes here and he’s just so happy — and he’s got a lot on his mind. The leg of his — he still wants to play. But I think we’re going to see a lot of things from him golf-wise that we may not have known 10 years ago.”

But, as you know, there are limits. Closeness can bring benefits, but sometimes, as you’ve no doubt experienced, someone may, as they say, hit a nerve. 

And on this week’s Another Golf Podcast, Couples laid one out one such case. 

“I mean when I say I love the guy. He’s my all-time favorite person,” Couples said on the podcast. “He’s very kind to me. When I ask him, text, he will reply. Sometimes, I’ve kind of pushed the limit. 

“Like one time I told him I thought he should play in Tampa — he’d love the course. And he said basically, you know, you don’t need to tell me where to play. Like, you got it. Now I learned. 

“But that’s the honesty part.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the entire podcast — and you should — please click here.  

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.