Back injury forces Willett out of British Masters

Updated: 

Danny Willett withdrew from the British Masters ahead of the first round on Thursday due to a back injury.

The Masters champion was due to tee off at The Grove alongside Andrew Johnson and Alex Noren at 12.35pm local time, but pulled out due to a troublesome back.

Willett, who endured a miserable Ryder Cup, had winced after hitting a drive in the pro-am round on the eve of the tournament in his homeland and the Race to Dubai leader was still in discomfort the following morning.

Justin Walters replaced Willett in the field, while Simon Dyson retired from the European Tour event with a wrist injury.

Mikko Ilonen and Marc Warren set the early pace after starting with five-under rounds of 66.