When Fred Couples fired a 71 in the first round of the Masters Thursday, it was an impressive feat for the 54-year-old, but it was not a surprise.
Couples understands what it takes to have an excellent first round at Augusta. In his previous four Masters, Couples had shot 68, 71, 72 and 66 in his opening rounds.
However, it's much more difficult to continue that play into the second round and beyond. While we're not ready to say that Couples will be a contender for the green jacket when play begins on Sunday, he has done everything he could have hoped through the first two rounds of the tournament.
He fired his second 71 in the second round, and his 36-hole total of 142 means that he is within five strokes of Watson.
Couples was especially sharp on the front nine, firing a two-under-par 34. He slowed down a bit on the back nine, as he finished with a one-over 37.
Couples told ESPN's Mike Tirico that he was playing precisely, but the key is to play with the same confidence during the rest of the tournament. "I need to keep it up in the third round," Couples said. "My scoring average on Saturday is 76. I have to find a way to make the putts tomorrow."