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DiMarco back this week after injury

DULUTH - Chris DiMarco said the lingering effects of a snow skiing injury are gone, so he shouldn't have any problems at this week's BellSouth Classic or at the Masters, where he was runner-up last year.

DiMarco suffered the injury two weeks ago in Colorado while trying to avoid other skiers. He hit the ground quickly and landed on his backpack, causing pain, most notably a rib injury.

"A couple of guys were coming out of the trees and I didn't see them really and the only way to avoid them was for me to go down myself," the avid skier said on Wednesday, a day before the BellSouth's first round. "I had sunglass cases and my phone in (the backpack) and one of them on my lower wrist. Originally I was like, my shoulders, my knees are good. Nothing was cracked or broken. Just sore, really, really sore."

X-rays revealed no major damage, but DiMarco missed The Players Championship last week for reasons he said were "50 percent precautionary and 50 percent injury."

The thick rough at the TPC at Sawgrass made the decision easier, even though he still said pulling out was a tough call.

"I missed our championship, and that hurt," DiMarco said. "Two or three more days and I would have been good to go. That rough there, I was talking to my caddie and I asked him and he said it was brutal. Knowing me as a competitor, I was't going to just chip out.

"If I felt like I could get it to the green I would try it. I was afraid of long-term injury. I was afraid of having something that would last one week unless I tried to go back early and it could cost me three or four months. That's something I didn't want to do."

DiMarco currently ranks 66th on the PGA Tour earnings list this season, but did win in his first European Tour appearance - at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates - back in January.

Go Gators

If DiMarco makes the cut this week and plays in Saturday's third round, it's safe to say he'll be leaving Sugarloaf quickly.

The Florida graduate is a huge supporter of his school - right down to his Gator club head covers - and finding a TV to watch his alma mater in the NCAA men's basketball Final Four is sure to be a priority on Saturday evening.

"I'm very excited we're in the Final Four," DiMarco said. "They are playing as a team and George Mason is doing the same thing, they are a team that's unselfish. It's going to be a great game. There's a reason why George Mason beat North Carolina, Michigan State and Connecticut, because they played as a team."

Out of mind quickly

Jose Maria Olazabal nearly won last year's BellSouth Classic - twice.

The Spaniard missed a five-foot putt on the 18th hole that would have given him the title in regulation. The miss sent him into a four-way playoff and he missed a four-footer on No. 18, the first playoff hole, that also would have given him a win. He eventually lost in the playoff, but said he shook it off quicker than he would have earlier in his career.

"When you play the Tour for 20 years, you go through the highs and the lows of this game," Olazabal said. "Somehow you learn to cope with the situations, especially when they are tough. I think even though last year obviously was very hard to swallow because it was a tournament that I had,

all I had to do was make two putts on 18. Even though I said it was hard to swallow, I'm pretty sure that if that happened earlier in my career, that would have hurt me much more."

Groupings of note

The first- and second-round groupings were finalized on Wednesday, and several interesting threesomes were unveiled by tournament officials.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III are in the same group, teeing off today at 12:20 p.m. off No. 1 and Friday at 7:30 p.m. off No. 10.

The group in front of Mickelson and Love both days features the PGA Tour's leading money winner Rory Sabbatini and David Toms.

Bubba Watson, the Tour's longest driver, tees off No. 10 at 7:10 a.m. today and off No. 1 at noon on Friday.

The next group behind his threesome both days includes three top foreign players - Luke Donald, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington.

Duluth qualifier Jeff Amershadian tees off today at 1 p.m. on No. 10 and begins his second round Friday at 8:10 a.m. off No. 1.