Westwood tops Paris casualty list

LEE Westwood, Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie and Matteo Manassero may be forced out of this week's French Open.

It was initially feared Westwood might have a blood clot in his leg when the world No 3 withdrew from the pre-tournament pro-am yesterday because of a swelling around the right calf and ankle.

"The doctor (in Paris) has decided there is no DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or blood clot," said Westwood's representative Stuart Cage. "The problem seems to be a reaction to the heat. Lee is going to have an anti-inflammatory dressing put on the muscle and if he rests up tonight then hopefully the swelling will go down and he will be able to play (in the first round) tomorrow.

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"He is certainly going to go to the course tomorrow morning and make a decision then," added Cage.

World No 8 Poulter also withdrew from the pro-am because of an infected insect bite that caused a swelling in his groin. The Briton said he would pull out of the tournament if the swelling did not go down.

Italian teenager Manassero was also doubtful after being struck on the left hand by a ball while practising on Tuesday. The 17-year-old, playing one of his seven invitations as he tries to win a European Tour card for next season, is in pain and unable to flex the hand properly.

Scotland's Montgomerie was another pro-am withdrawal due to a calf tear and a damaged Achilles. Europe's Ryder Cup captain is being injected with painkillers.

Ross McGowan, in fifth place on the Ryder Cup table, has already pulled out of the French Open because of a swollen right wrist.

McGowan, who retired during last week's BMW International Open in Munich, will also miss next week's Scottish Open in a bid to get fit for the Open at St Andrews which starts on 15 July.

Meanwhile, Jose Maria Olazabal returns to action for one week only admitting that his battle with rheumatism has to put a question mark over him becoming Europe's next Ryder Cup captain.

The French Open at Le Golf National is Olazabal's first event since last October and it is also likely to be his last for a few months.

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"I'm giving it a try this week, but it's definitely the rest of the summer off," said the 44-year-old, whose problems go back to the mid-1990s when he could not play for 18 months and feared his future would be in a wheelchair. "I feel better, but still have pain in my shoulders," he said.

"It's just a game of wait and see, but it feels like a slow process - it feels like the finishing line is near, but you never get to it."

Olazabal is favourite to succeed Montgomerie following October's match at Celtic Manor, but part of the reason for appointing Montgomerie was that he is still a Tour regular.

"Sure I want it," said Olazabal, "but the decision is not mine and a couple of things have to come into place. It depends on my condition more than anything else."

Montgomerie has stated his desire to have the double Masters champion as one of his assistants, but Olazabal served as Nick Faldo's vice-captain two years ago and has voiced doubts about doing it again.

"I've pretty much made up my mind, but that's private," he said. Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn are pencilled in, but Montgomerie is making no announcement until after The Open. "My main target is just to get better," added Olazabal.

Stephen Gallacher, lying 25th in the Race to Dubai after three top 10s in his last four events, spearheads the Scottish contingent, which also includes qualifier Callum Macaulay and Steven O'Hara, who got in when McGowan withdrew.

Montgomerie, who is playing with Rhys Davies in the opening two rounds, was under treatment all last week in Munich, where Paul Lawrie and Peter Whiteford were both still in contention going into the final round but failed to threaten as Englishman David Horsey recorded his maiden win.

"It was a very frustrating last day after hitting it so well the first three days," said Lawrie. "I deserved much more than 17th but that's golf."

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