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Continued: Mickelson spending more time at Muirfield to learn the course

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Last update: July 17, 2013 - 7:20 AM

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HANSON'S BACK: Peter Hanson has been struggling with a sore back, and he's still not sure if he'll tee it up Thursday. The Swede said it was 50-50 he would play.

"I thought the disk problem in my back was getting better, but then it starts to feel worse," Hanson said.

Hanson had planned to play The Greenbrier Classic and the following week, either in America or Scotland. But there was a rain delay at The Greenbrier, and he couldn't move when play resumed so he had to withdraw. He came straight to Scotland to work with his physical therapist trying to get ready.

The key was going to be Tuesday.

"If I can play nine holes pain-free, then that will be the key to my playing or not," he said.

The first alternate if he were to withdraw is Joost Luiten of The Netherlands.

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THE FRENCH CONNECTION: Thomas Levet was part of the four-man playoff at Muirfield in 2002, and he went one extra hole of sudden death before making bogey on the 18th hole and losing to Ernie Els. He didn't qualify to play this year. Neither did the other two from that playoff, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington.

Levet is doing TV work, and he said it's been tough.

"I am fine here in the practice range, but when I walk back among the crowd it is difficult because everyone keeps reminding me of what happened in 2002," Levet said. "I think I've signed 20,000 autographs already this week, so it is very difficult."

France at least is represented by Gregory Bourdy, so maybe he can get atonement from his country.

"The question to Gregory is, 'Who will be only the second French player to win the British Open,'" Levet said. "And the answer this week will be, 'Gregory Bourdy.'"

Arnaud Massy in 1907 at Royal Liverpool is the only Frenchman to win a claret jug. Jean Van de Velde nearly joined him in 1999 at Carnoustie when he took a three-shot lead into the final hole. Van de Velde famously made triple bogey and lost in a playoff.

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