Although many wondered if Fred Couples’ golf record, hampered by back problems for the last two decades, was strong enough to provide him entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame, PGA Tour balloters have decided it. Couples will be inducted in May, 2013.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem made the call to inform Couples last week. Couples said he thought the call was about a special event in November, and at the end of the call Finchem said: “Oh by the way, you’ve been elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame.”
Couples is most remembered for his victory in the 1992 Masters tournament which seemed to be sealed by a tee shot at the 12th hole. The ball landed on the bank, and for reasons that no one has been able to explain, it was the only ball that did not roll back into Rae’s Creek.
“I want to thank the people who voted for me,” Couples said, speaking remotely from Riviera CC to the Tour Championship press room. “It’s been a long career, 31 years of playing.”
Couples said he has never given the World Golf Hall of Fame a thought. He said he would not consider himself a great player, but a good player.
“Today’s a great deal for me. A lot of people respect my game. I don’t consider myself to be a great player, but I’m a good player," he said. “My buddy George Brett was a great player, but good is a good thing.”
Couples said he's played great golf and been beaten, but also played good golf and won.
“I will say I love competing, and I was in a great era of playing with young Phil Mickelson and older Greg Norman and Nick Price,” he said. “I don’t know if YA Tittle could throw the ball these days, but you can play golf for a long, long time.”
Couples said that one of his most important career moments was the 1989 Ryder Cup. He had a chance to win a point to clinch the Cup for the US and was beaten by Christy O’Connor Jr. Another important event was winning his first Players Championship in 1984.
“What made me a much better player was being on the  Ryder Cup team and losing a critical match,” he said, because of the caliber of the rest of the players on the team. “I would never be paired with Ray Floyd at that age.”
“Winning TPC (now called The Players), I beat Lee [Trevino] and Seve [Ballesteros] and Fuzzy [Zoeller] was right there, and I knew that would help me as a player.”
Couples won 15 regular PGA Tour events, including the Players in 1984 and 1996. His most recent victory was on the Champions Tour at the Senior British Open. For many years he was known as the king of the Silly Season golf tournaments like the Shark ShootOut, The Skins Game, and other events in November and December. USA Today coined the phrase Mr. November to describe his success in postseason play. Couples is originally from Seattle, Wash., and attended the University of Houston. In his youth, he had 31 junior victories in the Seattle area.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America. Bissell is author of Fred Couples: Golf's Reluctant Superstar, an authorized biography.