'He faxed us to tell us he was withdrawing but there was no reason given at all,' said British Open spokesman Stewart McDougall. 'He's a very popular player and will be missed.'
The 45-year-old Spaniard has played in the last 27 British Opens but has not made the cut since the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews, where he won the title in 1984. Ballesteros captured the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in 1979 and 1988 but has struggled over the last few years.
Ballesteros, also a two-time Masters champion, has not won since the 1995 Spanish Open and was disqualified from this week's Irish Open. He was disqualified from the event when he signed for a 10 on the par-five 18th when he actually carded a 12 on the hole.
The 2002 British Open will take place July 18-21 at Muirfield, Scotland.
Full Coverage of the 2002 British Open