O'Meara WDs with ailing back, ribs

Mark O'Meara hits a shot out of the bunker during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
Mark O'Meara hits a shot out of the bunker during a practice round prior to the start of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National. ( Associated Press )

Thursday, April 5, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Mark O’Meara, the 1998 Masters champion, withdrew from the 76th Masters with an injury to his back and ribs.

Scheduled to play with Chez Reavie and Martin Laird at 11:08 EDT, O'Meara went to the range hoping he could go. After hitting 40 or so balls, O'Meara, 55, decided to withdraw.

“I’ve been struggling for the last week and half with my (right) back and ribs,” O’Meara said. “I got a slight tear in my intercostal (muscle) between rib 11 and 12.”

O’Meara struggled in his practice rounds Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and in the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday before his condition worsened Thursday morning.

“Just hitting balld on the range, it felt like someone was driving a knife in there,” said O’Meara, pointing to his right side, which was covered with an ice pack. “I didn’t feel it was fair to me or the tournament to go out there and play at 50 percent and play three holes and walk off the course.”

O’Meara plans to rest for the next week, skipping the Champions Tour's Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay next week in Lutz, Fla. He hopes to play the following week in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga., with Nick Price.