U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Singh's painful run-up to the Masters

March 26, 2009

ORLANDO -- Former Masters champion Vijay Singh is feeling a bit jinxed as he prepares for the year's first major championship.

Singh, who opened with a 4-over-par 74 Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, is hampered by a lower back injury that came on Tuesday morning. He woke up with severe muscle spasms, and despite intense therapy and rehabilitation, he was far from 100 percent at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

The 2000 Masters champion underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January, and in his five starts this year he hasn't finished better than T-17.

"My knee is fine; it has not bothered me too much," Singh, 46, said. "I just need to walk some more. I'm getting better there, but my back is a mess now. I can't get a break. It's crazy."

Winner of the 2007 edition at Bay Hill, Singh opened the tournament with a double bogey on the short par-4 10th hole, and then he struggled to hold his round together from there. He appeared to be walking gingerly off the green on his last hole of the day, the par-4 ninth.

"It's a miracle that I'm here, really," Singh said. "My trainer did a great job, but it's still not real good. It's a shame, too, because I was hitting it beautifully on Monday. The golf swing was really good. This is very disappointing. I need to get some rounds under my belt before the Masters and now I have this."

-- Dave Shedloski