Irwin Hasnt Touched a Club Since US Open

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BLAINE, Minn. -- Hale Irwin's back is still bothering him, and it caused the Champions Tour star to miss Monday's media day for the 3M Championship, an event he's won three times since it started in 1993.
 
''It hasn't been much fun the last couple of weeks,'' Irwin said during a telephone interview from his home in Arizona. ''I'm just trying to take care of this crazy back.''
 
Irwin's goal is to recuperate his mysterious back ailment in time to defend his 2002 3M Championship title at the TPC of the Twin Cities course in Blaine.
 
Irwin hasn't gone anywhere since injuring his back almost a month ago. He said he was out hitting practice balls near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., and felt something. Nothing significant happened until a few days later, when he woke up in severe pain. He tried to play through the injury for a few weeks, but the pain peaked at this year's U.S. Open, forcing Irwin to withdraw from the tournament.
 
''And I haven't hit a ball since,'' he said. ''I'm going to try and get out this weekend, hit a few and see how it goes.''
 
Irwin, known for his workout warrior ways, admitted Monday he's been frustrated by the injury, which causes severe pain in his lower back when he takes certain types of swings.
 
''I think the prognosis is, I don't know,'' he said. ''Nobody can seem to put a finger on it.''
 
Irwin won last year's 3M Championship by three shots over Hubert Green. He also won the tournament in 1997 and 1999.

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