Mickelson, Johnson suffer first-round KO's

Friday, June 1, 2007

Tiger Woods was waiting on the edge of the 10th green Thursday when an approach shot from Charley Hoffman whizzed by his head and missed him by about a yard. Woods was about the only one who dodged illness or injury at the Memorial.

Phil Mickelson withdrew after 11 holes because of an injury to his left wrist, which he suspects happened at Oakmont earlier this week as he practiced chipping out of the deep rough while preparing for the U.S. Open.

"I couldn't grab the club and I couldn't swing," Mickelson said.

Masters champion Zach Johnson had to stop after 15 holes with strep throat so severe he turned down his first interview.

"Sorry guys, I can't talk," he hoarsely whispered.

The scoring at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, couldn't have been better with pure greens, stifling heat and calm conditions. Leading the way was Sean O'Hair, who played great golf for the second straight tournament except for a blemish on the 17th, of all holes. He still managed a 7-under 65 and was tied with the Australian duo of Rod Pampling and Nick O'Hern.

Ernie Els was among those at 66, a guy who felt so sick about his putting that he went to the cross-handed style and had few complaints, other than it felt weird to ditch the conventional style that carried him to three majors.

Even so, the theme of the first round seemed to be about survival -- especially those who didn't.

For those who anticipated a duel between Mickelson and Woods, that ended before the world's No. 1 player even got to the practice range. Mickelson felt the first sting after a wedge on the second hole, and he had a message therapist holding and rubbing his hand on the back nine until he hit another wedge out of divot on the 11th.

"I'll take a couple days off, see if I can ice it and get it ready for the Open," he said.

Woods nearly got knocked down by Hoffman, whose hit a tee shot on No. 10 hit a cart path and bounced out-of-bounds. He went back to the tee as Woods and Bart Bryant played on, and Woods was seemingly out of the way on the front right corner of the green when a small Titleist missile missed him by 3 feet.

LPGA Tour

Annika Sorenstam's return to the LPGA Tour was better than she hoped. Michelle Wie's literally went down the drain at the Ginn Tribute in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Sorenstam was satisfied with her even-par 72 after nearly two months off the tour because of a ruptured disk and a bulging disk. Wie withdrew after shooting 14 over for 16 holes -- including a 10 on the par-5 third when her drive hit a parked car and fell down a storm drain -- and saying she had reaggravated a season-long wrist injury.

Rookie Angela Park was the leader at 6-under 66, two shots ahead of a group that included top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Pat Hurst.

-- The Associated Press

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