The following is a sports commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Have you ever suffered from back issues? Over the years I've been blessed, as my back has been strong. But for some Champions Tour golfers, keeping those backs, ribs and joints healthy is a process. As a middle-aged man and a cancer survivor, I know that staying healthy is very important. I say all this as I have a real beef with Champions Tour golfer Fred Couples. Yes, the former world number one, winner of 57 pro events and the 1992 Masters winner gets my Boo Of The Week Award.
It was Sunday morning when hundreds, if not thousands of golf fans flocked to the final round of the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek. The most popular golfer entered in the tournament? With all due respect to Tom Watson, it was Fred Couples. "Mr. Smooth" continues to draw big crowds wherever he goes, as women want to hang out with him and men want to be him. The problem on Sunday morning? There was Ronnie Bruno calling out Couple's name on the tenth tee (they had split tees Sunday), only to find Couples was a no-show. Couples was put on the clock by the Champions Tour, and within minutes, disqualified - he was then fined an undisclosed amount of money.
So what's the rub? Seems Couples cleaned out his locker Saturday night and headed home to the left coast without informing tournament officials and/or Tour officials. Did Fred simply forget to tell someone that he was withdrawing from the tournament? Did he get his signals mixed up with his agent, assuming that his agent would spread the word? And a few other questions: Was it really a back issue that forced Couples to skip town? Was it the fact that he was fifteen shots back? Was it the fact that he was relegated to starting his final round on the tenth hole? My gut is that it was a bit of each, as Couples appeared to be struggling with his back over the tournament's first three rounds, and his attitude walking off the 18th green on Friday and Saturday certainly showed me that he was not having a whole lot of fun.
So why the beef from where I sit? I believe that athletes owe their fans their best. We pay good money to see great athletes at work, and I certainly felt for all of those who skipped church Sunday, parked their cars and walked to the tenth tee box only to find out that their favorite golfer was likely back in California sleeping at that hour. Tournament officials count on a golfer with the star power of a Fred Couples to sell tickets and add luster to their event. Instead, Couples turned into a Robert Irsay or a Dennis Franchione and ducked out of town with nary a "goodbye".
I certainly hope that Couple's back feels better, and I hope that everything is fine with his family, as certainly leaving an event for a family emergency is justified. But if Fred Couples bolted because of a miserable golf game and the fact that he had to play alongside the dew sweepers early Sunday morning, my simple message to him is, "You're not the man, Fred!".