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Tampa's Ryuji Imada withdraws from Transitions Championship

PALM HARBOR — Tampa's Ryuji Imada took two weeks off from his Tour schedule to rehab sore ribs. He hoped they would be better by the Transitions Championship in his back yard.

They are not.

Imada, 33, withdrew Tuesday and will miss the tournament for the first time since 2005, his rookie year. It also looks like Imada will not be in the Masters field. To play in the year's first major, Imada needs to win the only two tournaments left, Bay Hill and the Houston Open. He might not be healthy enough to play.

"I'm trying to stay away a little bit,'' Imada said late last week. "My left rib has been bothering me all season.''

Imada is off to a decent start in 2010. He has played six tournaments and has a best finish of tie for ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. He led on Sunday before closing with 75. Imada has earned $346,710 and ranks 62nd on the money list.

"I wish I could have won already, but it's not that easy,'' Imada said. "In San Diego I think I played good enough to win but I didn't make enough putts on Sunday. But it's good to already be in contention and have that feeling. It's something that can't be taught and something you can't buy. It's nice to feel that and the next time it will be a little easier. Then again, I haven't been in that situation in over a year.''

Imada's only PGA win came in 2008 in Atlanta.

Jose Coceres and John Mallinger also withdrew. They were replaced by Troy Merritt and Blake Adams.

Karlsson gets first look: Robert Karlsson has won 10 tournaments worldwide, but he is getting his first look at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course.

Karlsson spends his time between the European and PGA tours, and the most he has played in the United States is 13 tournaments in 2007. But his schedule allowed for a trip to the Transitions Championship, and his friend and defending tournament champion Retief Goosen made his decision easier.

"Retief has talked very well about it,'' Karlsson said. "I did also hear about it even before he won here. You need to hit it well to have a chance here, and that's good for me.''

However, Karlsson doesn't feel he's bringing a lot of steam into this week. He finished 62nd last week at the WGC-CA Championship in Miami.

"I putted like a Muppet,'' Karlsson said.

Iron men: Three players in the field have played in all 10 PGA events at Innisbrook since the tournament started in 2000 (there was no tournament in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks): Brian Gay, Lee Janzen and John Huston. Four players had perfect attendance until this year: Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade, Tim Herron and Shaun Micheel.

Quick trip to D.C.: Ireland's Padraig Harrington will leave Palm Harbor today to attend a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House with President Barack Obama. He promised not to celebrate too much, especially since he has a 1:12 p.m. tee time on Thursday.

Today: There are pro-ams in the morning and afternoon. Some of the bigger names in the morning are Sergio Garcia (8:05), Vijay Singh and John Daly (8:35) and Steve Stricker (9:45). Big names in the afternoon include Goosen (12:30), Stewart Cink (12:40) and Bubba Watson (2). Tickets are $10 and available at the gate.

Tampa's Ryuji Imada withdraws from Transitions Championship 03/16/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 18, 2010 3:32pm]
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