Golf: Fowler forced to take a back seat

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American Rickie Fowler will not defend his Korean Open title next week or play in the PGA Tour’s $6 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia the following week because of a back problem, the 23-year-old said yesterday.

The flamboyantly dressed world No 28 won his first professional title at the co-sanctioned Korean and OneAsia Tour event last year by six shots from current world No 1 Rory McIlroy. But a long-standing issue has robbed Korean organisers of their headline act for the event which starts on Thursday at the Woo Jeong Hills in Choongnam.

“Unfortunately, while not serious, I have battled a back issue for the past few months, and my doctors have instructed me that international travel and any tournament play is not in my best interest at this time,” Fowler said.