Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Couples, Price Withdraw before Tourney Begins

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Couples, Price Withdraw before Tourney Begins

Article excerpt

Two of the biggest attractions in golf are out of the U.S. Open. Fred Couples, among the most popular American golfers, and Nick Price, the No. 4 player in the world, both withdrew from the tournament, which begins Thursday at the Oakland Hills Country Club.

Couples, who withdrew last week from the Buick Classic, is suffering from back pain unrelated to the disk problems that have plagued him for the past three years. His most recent injury is a muscle pull sustained May 20, the day after the MasterCard Colonial, at a Dallas outing. It was a freak injury that occurred when Couples was chipping.

"I can't believe it happened when I was just chipping," Couples said last week.

Couples, the winner of the 1992 Masters and one of the favorites coming into Oakland Hills this week, was unavailable for comment Monday.

Price, who has been suffering from a persistent virus and severe allergies, did not improve over the weekend after withdrawing from the Buick Classic on Friday. The PGA Tour player of the year in 1993 and 1994 and the winner of three major championships (the 1994 British Open and the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championships), Price has been off form this year.

Last week he complained of lethargy and lack of strength. "I've been walking around like a zombie," Price said, withdrawing after 27 holes at Westchester Country Club.

Both withdrawals came as a surprise, although Price's was less so because of the severity of his allergies.

Couples did not give a formal reason for his withdrawal last week, but some of his friends and acquaintances around the Westchester Country Club said he did it as a precaution so he would be ready to go this week.

One of his agents, Ann Nimmer, said Couples will not be ready to come back until at least two weeks from now at the Canadian Skins Game. He also is committed to play at the Western Open two weeks later, July 4-7. …

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