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May
5
2010
Three Big Names Pull Out of Tour’s "Fifth Major"
By Stephanie Wei under General

Of course that would be THE PLAYERS. Not if you ask Alan Shipnuck, though! But I don’t care enough to debate the topic (feel free to) because there are only really four majors in my mind and that’s the way it should stay. Hey, if the suits at the PGA Tour need their own major (for their ego), then fine by me. (Isn’t the constant promo of the FedEx Cup enough?)

Anyway! Unfortunately, some notables have withdrawn from THE PLAYERS because of injuries. Not a big surprise to hear world’s number three, Steve Stricker, officially pulled out of the tournament. Last month he withdrew from the Verizon Heritage due to soreness in his right shoulder.

While Stricks insists the injury isn’t serious, tests revealed the pain is being caused by inflammation where the clavicle meets the sternum. I’m imagining where that is and I can attest that it’s painful, but it must be really bad if he isn’t playing until probably the Colonial at the end of the month. It’s better for him not to take any chances, though (I’m a strong proponent of that from personal experience). Replacing him is Spencer Levin.

Last week Anthony Kim announced he’s been struggling with an injury to his left thumb from 2009, which needs surgery at some point.

“This injury has been well documented over the past month, and I’ve been doing everything I can to play through it, but it became more of an issue last week and needs to be looked at,” Kim explained. “I’m extremely disappointed to have to miss THE PLAYERS Championship, but will consult with my doctors this week and follow their recommendations for treatment.”

Tough call for AK, who has been playing great through the pain — he won the Shell Houston Open and then finished third at The Masters, and more recently, he placed T7 at Quail Hollow. With three majors left and the Ryder Cup approaching, the timing is the issue because apparently the rehab will take two to three months.

But good news for Chad Collins, who will take AK’s spot in the field this week.

Meanwhile, 84 and 96 PLAYERS champ Fred Couples, who has been playing an awful lot for a 50-year-old geezer, has also withdrawn. According to rookie Troy Merritt’s Twitter feed, “Freddy Couples withdrew, so I guess I’ll have to play some golf this week. You don’t have to twist my arm to play in the Players Champ!!!”

Yeah, we’re all looking forward to watching you play instead of Freddie, too! Sorry, no offense, I’m just biased — as most of you know, Freddie is my all-time favorite player. I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive without seeing him play for a few weeks.

Instead of Stricker, AK and Freddie, we get Spencer Levin, Chad Collins and Troy Merritt. I mean, good for them, but that’s not really going to drive viewers who aren’t their family members, is it? Especially at such a marquee event. You know, it’s the fifth freaking major!

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