US MASTERS champion Fred Couples has given his vote of approval to the Singapore Island Country Club's (SICC) new-look Bukit Course. The American superstar celebrated his first appearance in Southeast Asia by winning the Johnnie Walker Shoot-out yesterday. After defeating Welshman Ian Woosnam on the ninth and final hole of the 10-man competition, Couples said: ''It's a beautiful course. There are some good holes and the greens are in good shape.'' In order to ensure a fair and tough test for Couples and European big guns Woosnam, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros in this week's US$850,000 Johnnie Walker Classic, numerous amendments have been made to the most famous of the SICC's four 18-hole layouts. As well as changing the sequence of some of the holes, the uphill, dog-leg left 15th, normally played as a par-five, will this week be used as a par-four measuring 459 yards. Even more notable has been the transformation of the usually generously wide fairways into tight, tree-lined strips of grass. Bordered on both sides by heavy rough, a premium on accuracy will be required. ''It seems that the courses at all Johnnie Walker tournaments have rough which is six to eight inches high,'' said Couples, making a light-hearted reference to the Tryall Golf Resort in Jamaica where the World Championship has been staged for the past two years. The alterations to the Bukit Course, a venue for previous Singapore Opens and the Dunhill Cup qualifying tournament, also received praise from Samson Gimson, Singapore's number one. ''They've done a great job on the course. I've never seen it looking better,'' said Gimson, a two-time former Hongkong Open amateur champion who is now established as one of the region's outstanding professionals. ''I don't think the fairways have ever been so narrow and I certainly haven't seen the rough grown as much as it has,'' said Gimson. In addition to Couples, Woosnam and Gimson, English world number one Nick Faldo, Spaniard Severiano Ballesteros, Australians Ian Baker-Finch, Rodger Davis and Greg Norman, Japan's Isao Aoki and Chen Tse-ming of Taiwan took part in the shoot-out.