Source: Ailing Back Puts Couples’ Status in Limbo
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Fred Couples has struggled with back problems for years, but since last October, the 51 year old has been enduring more pain and stiffness. After wrapping up last week’s Shell Houston Open, Couples, the ’92 Masters champion, canceled his traditional Tuesday morning practice round at Augusta because his back is in bad condition, according to a source close to Team Freddie. His status for the rest of the week is TBD. The source says Couples doesn’t even know what his plans are. Don’t fret, though — chances are he’ll still tee it up on Thursday even if he skips the practice rounds. After all, he knows the course just as good as anyone (if not better). But if you’re looking for autographs during the practice days, you might be out of luck.

Before last week’s Shell Houston Open kicked off, Couples already expressed that he felt tired and back pain — both of which were apparent during Friday’s round.

“I’m excited to be here (in Houston) and there (in Augusta) and then we’ll see what happens,” said Couples in his pre-tournament presser. “I think I’m going to take some time off after these two events. I’m so stiff and tired right now. It’s been like this since October. Having a bad back is okay, but having pain and a bad back is like a double whammy.

“It ain’t going away.”

Despite sneaking in the cutline to set a tournament record for most consecutive cuts made with 18, the 51-year-old Couples was just happy he got through the round.

“I’m tired,” he told the Houston Chronicle last Friday. “I’m just glad it’s over, and I made the cut.”

He shot rounds of 71-72-71-74 to finish T60.

Earlier last week, Couples said he was definitely playing at Augusta and had made special preparations for these back-to-back tournament weeks.

Here’s hoping a few days of rest and treatment will relieve some of his pain in time for first round. Either way, I imagine we’ll see Freddie on the first tee at Augusta on Thursday.

(AP Photo/Dave Einsel)