Defending champion Retief Goosen has been forced to withdraw from the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy suffering from an eye injury. He has been replaced by Sweden’s Henrik Nystrom.
Goosen underwent corrective laser surgery ten days ago and travelled to Qatar intending to defend his title. However during practice on Tuesday, his vision in one eye began to blur. He immediately travelled to Dubai for further treatment yesterday afternoon. He returned in the evening and last night still hoped to be able to compete. Unfortunately he is still having problems with his vision and has reluctantly had to withdraw from the tournament.
Goosen said: “I am obviously very sad that I am unable to defend my title. I came all this way to play but unfortunately the eye is causing a problem. I thought it would come good but it hasn’t. I went to Dubai yesterday and the advice was to go back to London for treatment.
“I have had laser treatment before, seven years ago, and felt it needed a touch up which I had done ten days ago. But there has been a bit of growth with a fibre in the left eye. It is a very simple procedure to take it out and the advice was to do it sooner.
“It is a shame as I love this event, love this course and I can’t remember the last time I pulled out of a tournament. I think I pulled out of the Scottish Open once with a back injury but that is all. You are never happy leaving a tournament without teeing it up.”
Hassan Al Nuami, President of the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) who host the event along with the Qatar Olympic Committee and title sponsors Commercialbank, spoke to Retief as soon as he heard of the issue on Tuesday and offered every assistance on the basis that the health of top sportsmen is the primary concern.
He said: “Obviously it is a disappointment with Retief being the defending champion. He has been a great ambassador and champion for us and we look forward to him returning to regain his title.
“We appreciate Retief committing right until the last minute before making this decision. We feel very sorry he is not able to defend but wish him a speedy recovery and every success for the rest of the season.”
American Ryder Cup Player Scott Verplank was also forced to withdraw from the Wednesday Pro-Am suffering from a stomach complaint.