ORLANDO, Fla. – Masters champ Danny Willett withdrew prior to the start of the opening round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing an illness.
Willett was slated to play the first two rounds at Bay Hill alongside Charl Schwartzel and Ben Martin. He was instead replaced in the 120-man field by Blayne Barber.
Minutes after he was scheduled to tee off in the opening round, Willett took to Twitter to explain his early exit:
1/2 - Really sad to have to withdraw from the @APinv I've been up all night with terrible sickness.. Not ideal but felt it worse to take...— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) March 16, 2017
2/2 a spot from the first reserve if I wasn't able to finish.. come Sunday im sure there'll be great champ once again. #LifeWellPlayed— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) March 16, 2017
The withdrawal continues a rough recent stretch for the Englishman as his return to Augusta National Golf Club draws near. He missed the cut at the Honda Classic, then finished 69th out of 76 players at the WGC-Mexico Championship after failing to break par in any round.
According to a member of his management team Willett was awake most of the night with flu-like symptoms and a fever. He still plans to play next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play as he prepares to defend his title at Augusta National.