Stenson withdraws from SA Open

Defending champion Henrik Stenson has withdrawn on the eve of the 103rd South African Open Championship, citing his ongoing wrist injury.

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, the 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,” Ngqula said.

“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.