Take a good look at Fred Couples this weekend in the Masters Tournament. You might not see him again this season.
Fred Couples makes an approach shot on the No. 1 fairway in his 23rd Masters Tournament appearance. With his back in pain, the 1992 Masters champion didn't expect to play the weekend.
Couples' chronic back pain limited him to two rounds this season before this week, and he had "no vision" of being able to make the cut this week at Augusta National Golf Club, he said.
He did, barely. The 1992 Masters champion made a scrambling par on No. 18 on Friday for his second consecutive 4-over-par 76. His 8-over 152 made the cut on the number, tying Gary Player's Masters record of 23 consecutive made cuts.
Couples, who didn't speak to the media after the first round, said after Friday's round that the Masters "might be the only one I play in" the rest of the year.
"Standing here, I feel horrible," Couples said, comparing the pain in his back to a throbbing toothache. "It's been a long time. It's kind of driving me nuts. Something has to happen so I feel much better."
He said he's not on a workout program because "I don't want anybody to touch me for a while. It hurts more when people move me around."
The 47-year-old Couples said if he doesn't feel better next season, he might not play at all.
"If I come back next year and don't feel good, then there's nothing much I can do about it," he said. "If I play mediocre, I don't know why I would do that. Why would you do that? I'd go surfing."
Tying Player's made-cut record didn't mean much to Couples.
"I'd rather have missed the cut five years and won last year," he said.
Couples played a handful of practice rounds at his home before he came to Augusta on Tuesday evening.
"This year I came thinking I might not be able to play five rounds (a practice round and the four tournament rounds)," Couples said.
Now that he's made the cut, Couples said, "I look forward to playing two more rounds here. It's my favorite tournament."
The long and windswept Augusta National this year "is a little too tough for me," said Couples, who has played the par-3s in 7-over par.
"I can almost play the course blindfolded; it doesn't mean I can shoot 72, but I can get it around," he said. "I haven't really embarrassed myself. I've just been a little rusty around the greens."
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most consecutive cuts made at the Masters:
No. - Player - Years
23 - Gary Player - 1959-82
23 - Fred Couples - 1983-2007*
21 - Tom Watson - 1975-95
19 - Gene Littler - 1961-80
19 - Bernhard Langer - 1984-2002
18 - Billy Casper - 1960-77
15 - Bruce Devlin - 1964-81
15 - Jack Nicklaus - 1968-82
13 - Ben Crenshaw - 1980-92
13 - Nick Faldo - 1979-96
13 - Raymond Floyd - 1973-85
13 - Corey Pavin - 1985-98
* Active streak