British Masters: Injury forces Danny Willett out while Matt Fitzpatrick makes steady start to defence

Matt Fitzpatrick
Matt Fitzpatrick
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Matt Fitzpatrick made a steady start to his defence of the British Masters title but Danny Willett was forced to withdraw due to his troublesome back injury.

Masters champion Willett withdrew shortly before his round was due to begin at lunchtime on Thursday after a flaring up of the back injury which has affected his career for several years.

He later wrote on Twitter that he struggled when beginning his warm-up.

Sheffield hopes are now pinned on defending champion Fitzpatrick.

The 22-year-old made a decent start, opening his round on the tenth.

Back-to-back-birdies on 14 and 15 saw him soar up the leaderboard and he was among the leaders after another birdie on two.

But a bogey immediately followed and another one on seven left him at one under par for his round.

That put him five shots off joint leaders Marc Warren, Tommy Fleetwood, Richard Sterne and Mikko Ilonen with Worksop’s Lee Westwood a shot back on -4.

Fitzpatrick begins his second round at 12.25pm on Friday alongside Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton.