He returned to Seattle for the summer of 1978 and, at age 18, won the Washington Open, beating touring pro Don Bies (b. As a sophomore at Houston, he was named the team's Most Valuable Player and nearly won the Southwest Conference championship, losing in a playoff to future pro Payne Stewart (1957-1999). That summer he posted the best score by an amateur, finishing 48th overall, at the U. He also met Deborah Morgan (1958-2001), a University of Houston tennis player.
His first girlfriend and later his wife, she was among several Houston contacts who figured prominently later in his life, including teammates Jim Nantz (b.
Location was everything in determining Couples' path in life.
By then he was forbidden to use a driver at Jefferson Park's driving range, reducing the chances he might hit those playing basketball 300 yards away.
Years later, teammates remembered him occasionally amusing himself on practice rounds by using a wedge off the tee and a driver off the fairway and still managing to get birdies.
While in high school, he showed no interest in girls and didn't learn to drive a car.
His ambition as described in the school yearbook with his senior photo was "to go to college to play golf and become a professional golfer or a businessman" (Bissell, 20).
Before the start of his senior year, while visiting Morgan in southern California where she was working as a tennis teacher, he decided he wanted to play in the Queen Mary Open in Long Beach.
Told the amateur spots were all taken but that a professional spot was still available, he opted -- apparently on the spur of the moment and upsetting his parents, especially his father -- to forego his senior year and turn pro.
Still playing at 55 despite chronic back problems, he had amassed earnings of more than million on the PGA and Champions tours and millions more in international events, exhibition appearances, and product endorsements.
He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.
Fred Couples is a Seattle native who became one of the world's top professional golfers.
He grew up playing on a city-run public course, Jefferson Park, and won state-high-school championships his junior and senior years at O'Dea High School.
He was a two-time All-American at the University of Houston before turning pro in 1980 following his junior year.