Early Painful Exit for Irwin

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OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Hale Irwin withdrew during the first round of the 103rd U.S. Open when his lower back went into a spasm after hitting his tee shot at the par-4 12th. He hit his shot dead left and was then taken off the course on a stretcher.
 
I dont feel very good about what happened, of course, Irwin said after leaving the on-site fitness trailer. Very disappointing, but Ive got to take some time, I guess, and give this aggravation a rest.
 
Irwin, who was 1-over at the time of his incident, said his back problems began two weeks ago. It didnt help matters that he had to play 30 holes Sunday at the Senior PGA Championship.
 
The three-time U.S. Open champion said he would rest his back and continue to receive ice and stimulation treatments in hopes of competing in the upcoming U.S. Senior Open.
 
BARNES LACKS THE DRIVE
 
Ricky Barnes was at a disadvantage in Thursdays opening round. It had nothing to do with playing alongside Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. He has certainly proven his broad shoulders can carry immense weight.
 
No, this was an unexpected equipment issue.
 
On his final swing before leaving the practice range prior to his first round, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion heard an explosion. And then saw the head of his driver 120 yards down the range. After hitting some practice putts, he walked to his first hole, the par-4 10th, uncertain of his big-stick status.
 
My brother gave me a driver on the 10th hole and said, This is all we can find, Barnes said.
 
The driver ' Barnes said he doesnt know where his brother got it from ' was the same brand, Titleist, but had different specifications.
 
A little different length and a little different loft, he said. So it was a struggle, going to the first hole in the U.S. Open and not having your driver.
 
Barnes said he used the driver six, seven times, but couldnt steer it straight. For the round, he hit only five of 14 fairways.
 
Im a little disappointed. Not to say that I would have scored much better, but I know I could have hit a couple of more fairways.
 
Barnes finished with a respectable 1-over 71. He shot 69 in the first round of this years Masters Tournament, en route to tying for 21st place.
 
WHAT ELS IS NEW?
 
Ernie Els stormed out of the gates this year, winning his first two PGA Tour events and four worldwide before March. Then he injured his right wrist hitting a punching bag, prior to Bay Hill, and hasnt been the same since.
 
Els said, before the first round, that the wrist is no longer a worry, but scoring continues to be a problem.
 
Thats the way its been going, hasnt it? Ive been playing like this a while now, he said when asked if he felt like he was playing better than his scores indicated. At least I made a couple more putts today.
 
The 1994 and 97 U.S. Open champion managed one birdie and 17 pars for a 1-under 69. He had 29 putts for his round.
 
COURSE AS EASY AS IT GETS
 
Padraig Harrington, making his sixth career U.S. Open appearance, shot 1-under 69 Thursday. It was just his second sub-70 round in this event.
 
Certainly of all the ones Ive seen, probably that was the easiest, he said of how Olympia Fields played in round one. No wind, the greens are receptive, pin positions today.
 
I thought somebody would really shoot a low score with the conditions.
 
THE NEED FOR SPEED
 
Ian Leggatt didnt have the luxury of growing up in an area where one can play golf year-round. Living in Canada, he had to find something else to do during those winter months.
 
I lived really close to a golf course, used to ride my bike there in the summer time and that was what I did in the summer for seven months out of the year, and then I skated in the winter time, he said.
 
But he didnt just play hockey.
 
I got into speed skating by trying to get more ice time, he said, adding he competed in the sport for almost a decade.
 
Leggatt shot 2-under 68 in the first round, a nice reprieve from a season of suffering. Leggatt missed seven weeks, between the Nissan and the Heritage, in order to rest an injured hand. Hes also battled tendonitis in his elbow, nosebleeds due to his allergies and a stomach virus.
 
Last years Tucson Open champion has yet to break into the top 20 in any of his 12 previous starts this season.
 
The way my year has been going with injuries, I came in with no expectations, he said. Im just happy to be playing again more than anything.
 
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