After taking a sponsor’s exemption into last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Fred Couples pulled out of the Arizona event, citing an “illness.” In Dubai on Wednesday, Couples confirmed the problem was his nagging back and, in his off weeks, had again undergone treatment for it.
At the Masters last April, Couples said he could barely stand in place because of his back pain. Seeking answers anywhere he could, Couples traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany, to receive a blood-spinning treatment called Orthokine – not approved for use in the United States – from Dr. Peter Welling, which other athletes like Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant had used with great results.
Around the holidays, however, the comfort Couples had enjoyed since the spring disappeared.
“[A]t Christmas I got a massive, I guess virus or cold, and I took this Z-Pak, and it kind of ate up his medicine is what (the German doctor) told me on the phone, and he said, ‘When your back heals, if you feel great, then it went right back to work and if it didn't, unfortunately you're going to have to come see me again’ and that's what happened,” Couples explained.
Couples hopped a plane to Germany after the Champions Tour season opener to be re-evaluated, including identifying nine injection sites on his back for treatment. The ’92 Masters champion then flew to Los Angeles to undergo five days of treatment with a doctor hired to do it.
Based on the results, Couples feels the time and money is worth it.
“I mean besides flying over there, but the treatment is expensive. There's no insurance,” he said. “[I]t would be hard to swallow spending that kind of money and not feeling any better. I can promise you that.”