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Golf Today 30th March
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Fred Couples back problems sap confidence

Fred Couples back problems sap confidence

His back hurts, his confidence is low and rain could be on the way.

Forgive Fred Couples if he's not brimming with optimism going into the BellSouth Classic on Thursday.

``I don't feel all that great right now,'' he said Wednesday after playing a pro-am in chilly weather. ``My back's been bothering me a little. Tomorrow is going to be possibly a struggle.''

Couples will be part of a field that includes only 11 of the top 30 money winners this year. Many will be using the tournament as a tuneup for the Masters next week in Augusta. One of them is defending champion David Duval.

Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, tied for 33rd last week at The Players Championship -- the fourth time in six events he's finished 28th or worse. He did have a pair of fifth-place ties earlier in the season at the Buick Invitational and Nissan Open.

``My game is fair, at best,'' he said. ``I did play well at San Diego and Los Angeles.''

He planned to treat his back to after leaving the course and knew he didn't have to be back until Thursday afternoon.

``So a lot of good things can happen,'' he said. ``I am going to play, then I have got Augusta next week. So I am going to try everything I can to play.''

He's hoping for better concentration than what he had the week before.

``I threw away a lot of shots,'' he said. ``But, you know, my goal this week was to come here and really pay attention to what I was doing.

``I don't play like I used to, but I still play well and I still think that when I hit the ball well that I can basically win any tournament. And Augusta would be one that I really feel comfortable playing.''

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