AUGUSTA, Ga. — Patrons following Fred Couples the first two rounds and not aware of his current back situation had to be perplexed seeing a Masters champ struggling to hit an approach shot in the air.

Couples has long been dealing with back issues, but this was particularly alarming. The 1992 Masters champ went as far as to call it ’embarrassing.’ When you’re aware of all Couples has gone through just to be able to tee it up and you hear him describe his play, however, his scores of 80 and 76 almost seem downright heroic.

RELATED: Jordan Spieth makes unwanted history with NINE during first round

“No. 9, I drove it down there, downhill lie, and first of all, it was a 9-iron shot, but I was trying to hit a 7-iron and I just couldn’t swing,” Couples said. “The ball went 80 yards in the air and rolled up short left of the green. It’s embarrassing. I don’t want to embarrass myself. But I chipped and putted so well today most of the time that it was kind of interesting.”

Couples said his “back is shot” and that he “just can’t hit an iron.” Which, of course, isn’t ideal when you’re playing a golf tournament anywhere, but especially at Augusta National.

That being said, Couples continued. In part, because he didn’t want to abandon playing partners Adam Hadwin and Stewart Hagestad. And, in part, because of the setting.

“It was really, I don’t want to say no fun because it’s Augusta,” Couples said, “but swinging was a chore. . . . Now I get to go home and watch some good golf in some tough conditions. Brutal out there.”

RELATED: A (very) unofficial ranking of the 15 most powerful people at Augusta

But when Couples was asked if he thought he was done playing in this event, he quickly shot that down. In fact, the 64-year-old vowed to not only return next year, but to play all four rounds.

“I’m planning on being healthy and making the cut and telling Fred (Ridley) I’m coming back the next year, too,” Couples said.

That would make him the oldest player to ever make the cut at Augusta National. Well, again. Couples already holds that record having pulled off the feat last year.


Masters 101: Answering all your frequently asked questions

How to watch the 2024 Masters

Power Rankings: Every player in the Masters field, ranked

50 defining Masters Moments, ranked

The bogey golfer’s guide to surviving Augusta National

5 shots that players should NEVER hit at Augusta National

15 people who ended up in the Masters penalty box

The most memorable Rules issues in Masters history

In search of the greatest Augusta National

The Masters’ other jackets: Why working tournament week has its perks

The greatest Masters round time has forgotten

The Champions Dinner Tell-All, from those inside the room Tee times for Round 1 and Round 2

This article was originally published on