Injured Willett pulls out mid-round at Sawgrass
Danny Willett pulled out of the Players Championship midway through his second round because of a back injury, saying his “body and mind need a rest”.
Willett, 29, was 11-over-par for his 27 holes at Sawgrass in Florida.
The 2016 Masters champion tweeted: “Not good to have to withdraw but swinging very poorly is putting a lot of unwanted strain on the back.”
Willett, who has a history of back injuries, has missed four cuts in nine tournaments this season.
He began his second round at the Players with a bogey on the 10th but got that stroke back on the next hole and recorded successive four pars before a dropped shot at 16 was followed by a triple-bogey six on the infamous 17th.
He made par on the 18th – his ninth hole of the day – to go out in 40 strokes and appear destined to miss the cut.
The Sheffield-born player’s poor form – including becoming the first defending champion to miss the cut at the Masters since Mike Weir in 2004 – has resulted in his world ranking dropping to 21st.
He also split with friend and long-time caddie Jonathan Smart after a disagreement during April’s RBC Heritage event.
Willett’s next scheduled start is the BMW PGA Championship, the key event on the European Tour schedule, in two weeks’ time.