Ailing back causes Els to WD from Tampa Bay event

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DORAL, Fla. – On Thursday Ernie Els struggled to even tee off for the opening round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship and had to receive treatment from his trainer throughout his round but the South African was able to finish the week at 3 under par and tie for 28th.

His ailing back, however, will keep him from playing this week’s Tampa Bay Championship. Els has withdrawn from the event and plans to meet with his Georgia-based doctor and possibly have an MRI this week before playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I got to get this sorted out,” Els said following a final-round 71. “It’s been bugging me for a while and I really need to get this sorted out. It really went into spasms on Thursday . . . I was almost gone.”

Els said the issue may be in his right hip flexor and the ailment has been lingering for about five months. He is currently scheduled to play Bay Hill and the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand on March 28-31 before heading to the Masters. He also said he will play in the “Els for Autism” pro-am on Monday at PGA National.