Tuesday 23 January 2018

Graeme McDowell: 'I'll be fit for the Masters'

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell has been forced to withdraw from the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio with an ankle injury.

The Northern Irishman suffered the problem during practice on Wednesday and, although he managed to play his opening nine holes yesterday, he pulled out of the tournament before setting his sights on getting fit for the Masters.

McDowell, tweeted: “Apologies to everyone at @valerotxopen for my withdrawal. Strained my lower left leg/ankle area practicing y/day and played with heavy strapping on it in the pro am and this morning. “With The Masters upcoming I decided that getting fit is imperative. Don’t like WDs.

“The week here at @valerotxopen had everything I wanted. Great people and great course. Disappointed this has happened. Thanks to everyone.”

McDowell, who won the US Open in 2010, was five over at the Valero Texas Open when he withdrew, having started on the back nine.

The Masters begins at Augusta National on April 9.

Meanwhhile, George Coetzee and Marcel Siem kept their hopes of qualifying for the Masters very much alive on the opening day of the Hassan Trophy at Golf du Palais Royal.

Both men had the daunting task of knowing only a victory in Morocco would be enough to book a trip to Augusta next month for the first major championship of the year.

But they got off to excellent starts yesterday, with South Africa’s Coetzee carding a 67 and Siem a 68 to finish two and three shots respectively behind France’s Adrien Saddier. Saddier, who was one shot off the lead before the final round of the Madeira Islands Open was cancelled due to bad weather on Sunday, made the most of his sponsor’s invite to card a flawless 65.

The 22-year-old chipped in on the first for an eagle and repeated the trick on the sixth for the first of his five birdies to finish one shot ahead of England’s Daniel Gaunt, who carded seven birdies and a solitary bogey on the 18th.

Coetzee shared third place with Scotland’s David Drysdale and England’s Chris Wood, with Siem a shot further back after five birdies, an eagle and three bogeys in his round.

Starting from the 10th, Coetzee - who won the Tshwane Open on his home course in Pretoria a fortnight ago - birdied his first two holes and also picked up shots on the 16th and 17th to reach the turn in 32.

Further birdies on the first and seventh took Coetzee to six under, but the 28-year-old ran up a double bogey on the next. However, the world number 69 made amends with a birdie from 20 feet on the ninth, just minutes after Siem had holed from an almost identical position.

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