Danny Willett withdrew for the third time in his last five events as he elected to cut short his time at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
After finishing the first day seven shots off the lead, the Sheffield golfer posted a blemish free front nine after starting his second round on the tenth.
But after carding bogeys on three and four, he quit the tournament with his on-going back issue blamed.
With the cut always likely to be set at -4 and The Open at Royal Birkdale approaching in a fortnight’s time, it seems likely the 29-year-old will have carefully considered his options before electing not to continue at Portstewart.
There was frustration on day two for fellow Sheffielder Matt Fitzpatrick who failed to build on his excellent opening round which left him two shots off the lead.
Fitzpatrick posted a level par 72 to start day three – at 10.40am – seven shots off leaders Benjamin Hebert and Daniel Im.
A deflated Rory McIlroy admitted he needs to eliminate “silly mistakes” from his game after missing the cut in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the fourth time in five years.
After labouring to an opening 72 on a day when 105 of the 156-strong field broke par, defending champion McIlroy could only add a second round of 73 at Portstewart Golf Club to finish one over par.