HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — An ankle injury has forced South African Ernie Els out of this week's Grand Slam of Golf and will be replaced by 41-year-old Irishman Padraig Harrington, who has twice played in the tournament here.
The PGA of America invited Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell as replacements, but both declined.
Els earlier invited former West Indies star Brian Lara to be his guest in Monday's Pro-Am tournament ahead of the Slam — an annual 36-hole tournament featuring the winners of the year's four major winners — but despite Els' withdrawal, Lara flew in on Sunday to keep his engagement.
Two years ago Lara was invited to Bermuda by then Premier Ewart Brown and the Trinidadian and Els, a keen cricket fan, delighted the gallery on the 16th hole with an impromptu game of cricket, pictures of which were snapped up by the international media.
Els, this year's British Open champion and winner of the Grand Slam in 1997 in Hawaii and 2010 in Bermuda, said: "I am bitterly disappointed... it's a great reward for winning a major tournament and something I have enjoyed in the past and was looking forward to again.
"Unfortunately, I sprained my left ankle a few days ago and while it isn't too serious and I should recover relatively quickly, I have been advised not to try and play on it. I wish my fellow competitors the best and hope that I will manage to qualify again next year."
Harrington said he was delighted he had been chosen to fill in for the South African.
"I am thrilled to return to Bermuda... while my entry into the field is under unique circumstances, I am excited to compete in the event again.
"I came close the last two times I was there, losing in play-offs to Angel Cabrera in 2007 and Jim Furyk in 2008. So maybe the third time will be a charm."
Harrington joins Masters winner Bubba Watson, US Open winner Webb Simpson and defending champion Keegan Bradley, who has been brought in to replace PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy, who withdrew because of other commitments.
On offer in the Grand Slam, being staged today and tomorrow at government-run Port Royal for the fourth time, is a US$1.35-million purse, with the winner receiving $600,000, second place $300,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000.