Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Couples Dealing With A Familiar Problem Again

Fred Couples has lived with back problems for years but it doesn’t get any easier.
 Couples is visiting another back specialist today in California to see if he can get any relief from continuing back issues that are affecting his golf game. When he plays – and Couples has kept a busy schedule recently – he’s driving the ball spectacularly but he’s struggling with short irons shots.
   Then there’s the issue of sleeping.  Or, as Couples explained it on a conference call this week, not sleeping.
“You know, I have dealt with it a long time.  Never have I really ever thought it was a bad deal,” Couples said.
“But the last month, I lay in bed, and I used to be able to do a couple things where I would find, in my terms, like pockets in my back where I could crack my back and it would feel good for a while. I'm not getting any comfort at night. I'm not sleeping very much
“I mean, I was laughing because at Hualalai, I physically could not have driven the ball any better. I never really hit a bad drive. I'm not saying I don't hit balls to the right or left. But the same at Phoenix. If I did anything at Phoenix, I drove the ball very, very long.  I played 33 holes on Sunday. And the last few holes, I was ‑‑ these guys were laughing at me because I was still driving it with them or past them, but I couldn't hit a green with an 8 iron. I couldn't swing once I kind of hinged and bent over a little bit. 
So those are things I've got to get fixed. You know, taking time off from golf is not the end of the world, but it's when I come back and I don't feel any better, then I get a little frustrated.  Then I start to think like this is crazy. But the not sleeping at night, that's no bargain at all. “

   Couples, who has a home in Charlotte, is operating out of his home in Palm Springs, Cal., through the early part of the season. After playing two Champions Tour events in Hawaii, he was able to drive to Phoenix last week and play the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open where he made the cut and kept himself fresh as captain of the 2011 Presidents Cup team.
   He’s planning to play the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles next week, one of his favorite stops through the years, then defend his title in the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour. Playing Los Angeles means Couples won’t defend his Champions Tour title in Naples, Fla., the same week.

   Driving back from Phoenix to Palm Springs, Couples said his back bothered him to the point he had made occasional stops to get out of the car.

   “I drove home from Arizona around 6, and I stopped in Quartzite, and you're going to laugh. I didn't even get gas. I walked around the car. I went in and got a candy bar, and I stopped in Blythe, which is only another 50 miles, and I made it into Palm Springs. I took an Epsom bath. I feel like I'm 400 years old.”
   In the next breath, Couples said he feels okay.
“I must be honest. After playing 33 holes, I felt pretty good. It's just ‑‑ it's crazy that I can hit a driver, and then I get up there from 150 yards, and I just ‑‑ I can't bend over, the slight tilt in my back and swing and hit the ground.  And I'm manufacturing a lot of these shots. 
But I hit some beautiful shots last week, and I just laugh because on the par 5s, you know, I hit a driver and a 4 wood or a 5 in the middle of the green.  And I play a hole that's 400, and I hit a good drive.  And I'm hoping to hit the green from 120 yards. It doesn't make any sense to me right now. “