Ian Woosnam will miss this week’s Italian Open because of the leg problem which forced him to pull out of both the Masters at Augusta a month ago and the Spanish Open on Saturday.
The tournament in Milan starting on Thursday had been hoping to re-unite last year’s two Ryder Cup captains, with American Tom Lehman having accepted an invitation to play.
But Woosnam, who 20 years ago was diagnosed as suffering from a progressive rheumatic disease, feels he has to put his health first.
The 49-year-old, who visited a specialist in London yesterday, had played only four holes of his second round last week when he decided to quit, saying: “I can’t walk properly and you can’t play if you can’t walk.
“I just can’t get rid of it – it’s been a long time now. Just walking to the practice ground I’m knackered and after hitting 20 balls I am out of breath.
“It’s like cramp and I keep going into spasm. I feel like I’ve got to go flat out just to swing and I’m not going to play again until I feel better.
“I wake up one day and can swing fine, but then the next I just don’t have the movement.”
His disease is called ankylosing spondylitis and while it mainly affects the spine it can also attack joints, tendons and ligaments and other areas such as the eyes and heart.
He has taken anti-inflammatories ever since, but last year started a new treatment of weekly injections each costing £200.
“It’s called TNF and was developed about 10 years ago for rheumatoid arthritis,” he said then. “If I wanted to keep playing to a reasonable standard I needed to do this.”