Rickie Fowler earned his first professional victory at last year’s Korea Open. He won’t be able to defend that title, though. Fowler has withdrawn from the Korea Open and CIMB Classic because of back issues.
“I am sorry to confirm, but I will not be competing in the Kolon Korea Open next week, nor the CIMB Classic the following week in Malaysia as planned,” Fowler said in a statement. “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. They have instructed me rather to focus on a therapy regimen in order to find relief as well as prevent potential issues in the future.”
Charlie Wi, a two-time winner in Malaysia, will replace Fowler in the CIMB, an unofficial PGA Tour event that will be played Oct. 25-28 at the Mines Resort and Golf Club. Wi won the 1997 Kuala Lumpur Open and the 2006 Maybank Malaysian Open.
Fowler’s struggles over the past few months cost him a spot on the United States Ryder Cup team. Fowler put together four consecutive top-10 finishes in April and May, including his first PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship, but didn’t finish better than 23rd in the nine starts after. He is No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking.