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More injury concerns for David Duval

David Duval skipped the pro-am Wednesday at the Bryon Nelson Classic to have an MRI exam on his right shoulder, which has bothered him since he fell awkwardly while snowboarding in January.

``I just wanted to make sure nothing was there,'' Duval told The Associated Press upon his return from a Birmingham, Ala., clinic. ``They checked it out. I had some inflammation, but it's no big deal.''

He expects to play Thursday for the first time since missing the cut in the Masters.

Duval was reluctant to discuss the injury or what kind of impact it has had on his game, saying he was tired of talking about injuries that have plagued him since 2000, when he missed 10 weeks because of a bad back.

He said the pain in his shoulder has not affected his swing as much as it has other activities, such as working out. Still, he conceded he has not been at 100 percent strength the last four months, and his game has suffered.

Duval, who has won 13 times on the PGA Tour and won the British Open last year for his first major championship, is off to his worse start in eight years on tour.

In nine tournaments, he has missed the cut twice and had to withdraw from the Nissan Open in Los Angeles with food poisoning. His best finish was 12th place at the season-opening Mercedes Championship, which had only 32 players. He has dropped to No. 6 in the world, and is 100th on the PGA Tour money list.

The biggest disappointment was the Masters, where he had been in back-nine contention Sunday the past four years.

He refused to attribute the missed cut to his shoulder.

``No one-putts the second day, that's what caused me to miss the cut,'' Duval said.

Duval said only that he ``fell funny'' while snowboarding in Sun Valley, Idaho. Along with the shoulder injury, he ended an eight-year relationship with his fiancee in late January, and has been moving into a new house in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

``Have all these things hindered my play? It probably has,'' he said. ``I just don't want to make any excuses. I just haven't gotten the ball in the hole very quick. I don't have any good answers. As much as anything, life has happened to me the last couple of years, the kind of things everybody deals with.

``That's why I don't want to make it a big deal.''

Duval is the only other player besides Tiger Woods to be ranked No. 1 in the world over the past four years, rising to the top by winning 11 of 34 tournaments from late 1997 through the spring of 1999.

A year later, after playing in the final group with Woods at the British Open in St. Andrews, he missed the next weeks with lower back problems. He won the Buick Challenge in his first tournament back.

The next year, he was caught up in a nasty lawsuit with Titleist over breach-of-contract, then had to skip The Players Championship and two other events with tendinitis in his wrist. He switched equipment and became the first to play Nike Golf irons, and won the British Open with a 65-67 weekend at Royal Lytham.

Now comes word of a shoulder injury.

``It's been one injury after another,'' Duval said. ``I'm tired of all that crap. Yes, it's bothered me. I have not been 100 percent for probably the better part of two years. I'm not a complainer. There have just been a few setbacks. I've been playing on the tour for eight years, and I'll get through it. I'll be fine.''

The Nelson Classic is the start of a stretch in which Duval plans to play all but one tournament leading to the U.S. Open.

``Tomorrow might be a bit of a crapshoot,'' he said. ``It might be really sore, not from tendinitis, but from having a piece of metal (a needle) stuck into your shoulder. I actually think I can win one of the next two tournaments.''


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