The Loop

Couples' back an issue on eve of Tradition

May 04, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Fred Couples hasn't competed since finishing T-15 in the Masters last month, and coming into this week's Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek the 51-year-old hasn't been able to prepare very much. "I've played two rounds of golf since Sunday at Augusta and that's not too promising," Couples said Wednesday. "I'm been trying to get this back thing better where I can start to play a little golf. That's where I'm at."

Couples has been using electrical stimulation to ease his back pain. "I travel with a little machine and it runs [for about an hour] and breaks up the inflammation," Couples said. "Then I go play golf - no stretching, no touching, no massage, no nothing, just let it thaw out on its own and let this machine do what it's supposed to do. That's what I do every day."

Couples has a chance to win his first Champions Tour major where he had a very good opportunity to win his first major two decades ago. Two years prior to breaking through at the 1992 Masters, Couples led the 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek by one stroke with six holes left in the final round but made four straight bogeys. He missed par putts of four, four and five feet on Nos. 13 through 15 then made another bogey after finding the sand on No. 16. "It snowballed," Couples said then. "It happened so fast, it was kind of sickening."

While Couples now has a house in Charlotte, he said wasn't tempted to play in the Wells Fargo Championship this week at Quail Hollow. "I was always going to come here," he said. "This is a great event. I haven't played in three weeks, so I need to be here."

-- Bill Fields