Ian Poulter's hopes of featuring in a sixth Ryder Cup have been placed in major doubt by a foot injury that is expected to sideline the Englishman for four months.
Poulter has been a star performer in the biennial tournament and boasts a superb record of 13 points from 18 matches.
However, the 40-year-old has been troubled by arthritic problems in his right foot and now faces a lengthy lay-off that could well rule him out of this year's Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in late September.
"I am obviously disappointed to be in this situation, especially during a Ryder Cup year," Poulter said in a statement.
"Right now, rest and rehab take priority in me returning to full strength later this season. I look forward to resuming a full schedule as soon as I am able."
Dr Ara Suppiah added: "Ian has been hampered by an arthritic joint in his right foot for the best part of two-and-a-half years. The condition has progressed rapidly over the last year warranting numerous cortisone shots [within therapeutic limits] to allow him to play. Unfortunately, he continues to be in pain whilst walking and practicing.
"Further cortisone shots run the real risk of thinning the bones [osteopenia] and stress fractures, which might require treatment in a cast and significant time away from the game.
"We feel that the best option at this stage is to take some time off to allow complete recovery and rehabilitation [including customised orthotics and modification of footwear] of his foot. This will give him the best chance of returning to the game sooner and preventing further deterioration of the affected joint."
Although Poulter has slipped to 85th in the official world golf rankings, he appeared likely to come under consideration for a place in Darren Clarke's European team given his outstanding Ryder Cup record.
Should he not return to action ahead of the competition, Poulter could well be invited to serve as a vice-captain.
Clarke added Padraig Harrington, Thomas Bjorn and Paul Lawrie to his backroom team last week, but revealed he would appoint two further vice-captains at a later date.