Cape Town - South African icon Ernie Els has withdrawn from this week's Scottish Open in the lead-up to golf's third major of the year, the Open Championship, starting on Thursday, July 20.
The two-time Open Championship winner was due to be one of 12 major champions in the field, but instead pulled out before his Thursday's tee time at the Dundonald Links in Ayrshire.
"Sadly, due to personal reasons I've had to withdraw from this week's Scottish, which was a real shame," Els wrote in his weekly newsletter.
"I'd heard great things about Dundonald Links... and it looks like everything is in place for a special week, though, with a superb venue, a strong field, a great sponsor and wonderful fans who really know their golf. I wish everyone well and, again, I'm sorry I can't be there."
Branden Grace, who is ranked 35th in the world, almost took home the Scottish Open title when he lost to Phil Mickelson in a sudden-death playoff for the 2013 title at Castle Stuart.
Grace returns to the tournament hoping he finds his links touch again.
Other South Africans in the field are Trevor Immelman, Hennie Otto, Dylan Frittelli, Dean Burmester, Darren Fichardt, Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Richard Sterne, George Coetzee, Jaco van Zyl and Thomas Aiken.