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Back to Keep Couples Out of Masters

April 02, 1994|From Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Couples, suffering from a herniated disk in his lower back, withdrew Friday from the Masters, tournament officials said.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion and two-time PGA Tour player of the year, joins Paul Azinger and Phil Mickelson on the sidelines.

"I am very disappointed to have to miss so many of my favorite tournament stops," Couples said in a statement. "But I know that the best thing for me to do is to work hard and get my back well."

His agent, Lynn Roach, said Couples is expected to be out of action another six to eight weeks. Surgery is not indicated at this time, the agent said.

Couples, 34, has already been sidelined nearly a month--since a bout with back spasms while warming up for for the final round of the Doral Open.

Earlier this week, after a magnetic resonance imaging test in Dallas, his problem was diagnosed as a herniated disk, Roach said.

"It is very difficult not being able to play in the Masters, but all my sponsors and the fans have been tremendously supportive," Couples said.

"I am fortunate that my injury was not more severe, and I look forward to coming back and having many more playing years ahead of me."

Couples finished second in both his American starts this year.

His withdrawal reduces the probable starting field for the Masters--which begins Thursday at the Augusta National Golf Club--to 90.

The winner of this week's McMoRan Classic in New Orleans, if not already eligible, will be added to the field.

Azinger, the PGA champion, and Mickelson withdrew earlier. Azinger is undergoing cancer treatment and Mickelson is recovering from a broken leg and cracked ankle suffered in a skiing accident.

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