Former champion has remained competitive in recent years

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Couples is out of the Masters because of acute back pain — the first Masters the 56-year-old former champion has missed since 1994.

Couples, a Seattle native, won the green jacket in 1992 and remains relevant at Augusta National. He shared the 36-hole lead in 2012 and was one shot behind going into the weekend in 2013.

His career has been slowed by back problems the last two decades.

With Couples not playing, the field is 89 players, the fewest since 2002.


• The governing bodies for men’s and women’s golf announced exemptions into golf’s majors for the Olympic champions this summer in Brazil. The men’s winner will be assured of a spot in the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2017. The winner on the women’s side will automatically qualify for their final major of 2016, the Evian Championship in September, and the first four majors the following year: ANA Inspiration, Women’s PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open and Women’s British Open.

Rory McIlroy had the patrons roaring at Augusta National. And it was only Monday. McIlroy made a hole-in-one at the 16th hole during a practice round, holing out a 7-iron from 170 yards. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard a roar that large in a practice round,” he said.

• An invitation to the Masters might be only the second-best offer Jim Herman gets this week. Less than 24 hours after winning the Shell Open, Donald Trump joked that Herman, a former assistant pro at one of his resorts, might be considered for a cabinet-level post in a new Trump administration. “That’s a character — the kind of character — you want. Somebody who can handle the pressure.”