Johannesburg - Defending champion Henrik Stenson has withdrawn on the
eve of the 103rd South African Open Championship, citing his ongoing
wrist injury, said tournament promoter Africa Sports Holdings.
The man his peers are calling the best golfer in the
world committed to his title defence in September, but the wrist injury was
aggravated as he gritted his way through the European Tour season-finale, DP
World Tour Championship, at the weekend.
The Swede advised the organisers via email late this
afternoon that he agonised over the decision.
“Despite my performance in Dubai, I am still having
concerns about my wrist, and it really needs to rest,” Stenson said.
“I realise this is disappointing to the organisers and
my fans, but this decision was extremely difficult for me. I love this
tournament and was always looking forward to coming back to defend my title.
“Unfortunately, in our line of business, we have to be
very mindful of injuries and be careful not to make matters worse. I wish
everyone participating in this year’s SA Open a fantastic tournament.”
Tournament chairman Khaya Ngqula said he understands
Stenson’s predicament and respects his decision.
“I am disappointed that the South African Open
supporters will not have the chance to see the European number one in action,
but we have to respect Henrik’s decision and we wish him a speedy recovery,”
“His withdrawal, however, means that one more player
from the 361 qualifiers will have the chance to challenge in this year’s event.
We are still incredibly excited about the 103rd edition which will
see 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, two-time US Open champion Retief
Goosen, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and 2001 Open champion David
Duval lead a strong field of local and international challengers.”
The 103rd SA Open Championship tees off
from 21 – 24 November at Glendower Golf Club, but first,
361 qualifiers will challenge for 16 spots at three
venues – Kempton Park Golf Club, Irene Country Club and Wingate Country Club –