Notes Bad Back Forces Out Faldo


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Nick Faldo felt the familiar twinge in his lower back, and hoped the pain would subside long enough to finish his round at the Masters.
When he snapped his second shot on the ninth hole, Faldo knew he was done.
'I can't swing,' the three-time winner said Thursday after withdrawing midway through the ninth hole. 'It's horrible. This is the Masters. I don't think I've walked off in 30 years.'
Faldo has been bothered by spasms in his lower back for the last 18 months. He's been working with a physiotherapist to try to strengthen it, and was feeling good when he arrived. But even the short shots caused him pain, and he could feel his back spasm after his third shot on the second hole.
Walking up and down Augusta National's rolling hills didn't help.
'These uphill lies, the downhill lies, it's brutal,' he said. 'It just kept tightening up and tightening up. I could hardly hit it up No. 7.'
After that second shot on 9, Faldo gave up. He was at 4 over through eight holes.
'If you can't get through it,' he said, 'how are you going to play?'
That he had to quit in the middle of the round was frustrating enough. That it happened at the Masters made it that much worse. He won here in 1989, 1990 and 1996, one of only three players to win back-to-back titles.
He has missed the cut five of the last eight years, but finished tied for 14th as recently as 2002.
'This place, of all places,' he said. 'So ... peach cobbler time. That's what you come to Georgia for, isn't it?'
Stuart Wilson had to do some shopping when he arrived at Augusta National.
Amateurs aren't allowed to carry bags with commercial logos on them at the Masters. It's not usually much of an issue, since most amateurs are either college students or club professionals. But Wilson, winner of last year's British Amateur, is 27 and works at the Auchterlonies Golf Shop in Dundee, Scotland.
'The rules are, you're not allowed to use a bag with a logo on it, and I've never seen one without a logo on it except here,' Wilson said.
So he bought one at the Augusta National golf shop. The green nylon bag has the club logo on the back pocket, and Wilson said he paid about $170 for it.
'It's a nice bag, though,' he said. 'I'll be using it again. Could probably have used a new bag, anyway.'
At least he'll have something nice to remember from his trip to Augusta. Wilson shot a 10-over 82 in his first round, meaning he'll likely miss the cut.
'Bad day at the office, I suppose,' he said. 'I enjoyed the course and the company, but my game left a lot to be desired.'
Ryan Palmer, who was near the top of the leaderboard at 2 under when play was suspended with two holes left, is 47 years younger and no relation to Arnold Palmer.
But some golf fans apparently can't tell the difference.
'I was getting my hair cut at a place in Boston and the stylist asked me if I was that wicked famous one,' he recalled. 'I had to tell her, 'No, he's a little bit older.'
And as Ryan pointed out, that Palmer is a lot more accomplished, having won four Masters. 'The King,' who is 75, played his final round in the tournament least season. Ryan Palmer is in the field for the first time.
'It's pretty hard to match what he's done here,' Ryan said. 'I'll have to start my own legacy here. Call it Palmer II, I guess.'
Jerry Kelly was ready to toss his putter out after a 3-over 75. Kelly hit eight of 14 fairways, but needed 34 putts. 'I'm going to go get a putter,' he said in disgust as he walked past his bag and into the clubhouse. 'Maybe throw that (one) out.' ... Casey Wittenberg, who earned a trip back to the Masters after finishing 13th last year as an amateur, had another solid day. He's at even par after completing his round. ... Of the 24 players who finished the first round, Mark Hensby was the only one under par.
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