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For Couples, back remains a painful issue

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Fred Couples walked away, gingerly, from the 75th Masters as low senior, shooting a final-round 73 to finish T-15 at four-under 284.

The 51-year-old, who was in contention after 36 holes despite dealing with a painful back problem, couldn't produce any fireworks after a second-round 68.

Couples' back, which has troubled him off and on since 1994, two years after he won the Masters, has been worse than ever since last October. He planned to seek treatment from a specialist in Texas. "I think I'm going to be off for at least a month just to get away and see if it will thaw out," said Couples, who took last December off without any results. "A thousand different people tell me they could fix it, and I've yet to find someone who can so far but I'll keep trying and see what happens."

Couples said he wants to play in the first major on the Champions Tour schedule, the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek. "It's been the same since October and those [cortisone] shots were pretty fun," Couples said, "but I can't live on those, so I've got to figure out what to do."

-- Bill Fields

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