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With the notable exception of Tiger Woods, Fred Couples might have the most famous bad back in the history of golf. And right now, that back is not cooperating.

“I can get it around. Last week part of the problem was there were a couple times in the group where I’m playing with guys on a par-3 and they’re hitting a 6-iron and I have a 4-iron out just trying to dink it up there,” Couples said. “I tried to hit a 5 on one hole and it just didn’t work out well, but that would have happened the next hole or the next day. On Saturday I just couldn’t even swing.”

Couples ended up withdrawing from the Hoag Classic in Newport Beach in the second round, and he admits the back hasn’t improved much as the Galleri Classic in Rancho Mirage begins this week. But with the Galleri Classic being played on Couples’ old home course at Mission Hills Country Club, Couples plans to do everything he can to play this week.

“It was raining and freezing (in Newport Beach) and I couldn’t get loose, and it was just a waste of time even to continue to play,” Couples said. “So I tried to rest a little bit. The weather’s awesome (Thursday). I know it’s not supposed to be great Saturday and Sunday, but that’s the way it goes. I’ll get it around today and I’ll see what’s going on tonight. I just don’t feel very good.”

More: Bernhard Langer’s absence from Galleri Classic a reminder of how good he’s been

The Galleri Classic is important to Couples for several reasons. First, he lived at Mission Hills for years and continues to live in the Coachella Valley. Second, he played the Dinah Shore Tournament Course for many years with friend and fellow PGA Tour pro John Cook and George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. The tournament last year marked the return of the PGA Tour Champions to the desert, something the 64-year-old Couples had hopes would happen with him still on the tour.

“It’s a great event. A lot of people last year, too,” Couples said. “Again, we’re lucky to play all these tournaments that we have, but I’ll tell you for being a desert rat for 40 years, I’m hoping I’m healthy enough to just get it around. But I’d like to play at least two or three more years here.”

Trying to stay on tour

Couples, one of the most popular players among fans and with his fellow players on the PGA Tour Champions, has fought back trouble since his days on the PGA Tour, where he won 15 times including the 1992 Masters. He’s won 14 times on the PGA Tour Champions, the last win at the SAS Championship in 2022. But last year Couples played just 10 senior events, managing just one top-10 finish, something that clearly frustrates him.

“Now that I’m 64 my goal is to not come play a golf tournament and feel bad and finish 45th,” he said. “That’s like not much fun. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but I’m past that. So I’ll play a handful of tournaments and play with my buddies and enjoy golf.”

Officials of the Galleri Classic can be comforted that even as Couples begins picking and choosing select tournaments to play, the desert tournament is high on Couples’ list.

“I have some hand-picked ones. I’ll play in Newport because I can get around there. I’ll play here,” Couples said. “I might go up to Pebble (Beach) and play. But I’m not going to travel around and play. I’ve actually felt okay in Hawaii and in Naples, but I just, I’m so afraid to hurt myself by practicing for a couple hours and I don’t feel well.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Fred Couples, fighting his bad back, hopes for better play at Galleri Classic

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