KUALA LUMPUR - American Rickie Fowler will not defend his Korean Open title next week or play in the PGA Tour's $6.1 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia the following week because of a back problem, the 23-year-old said on Friday.
The flamboyantly dressed world number 28 won his first professional title at the co-sanctioned Korean and OneAsia Tour event last year by six shots from current world number one Rory McIlroy.
But a long-standing issue has robbed Korean organisers of their headline act for the event which starts on Thursday at the Woo Jeong Hills in Choongnam.
"Unfortunately, while not serious, I have battled a back issue for the past few months, and my doctors have instructed me that international travel and any tournament play is not in my best interest at this time," Fowler said in a statement on Friday.
"They have instructed me rather to focus on a therapy regimen in order to find relief as well as prevent potential issues in the future.
"As you can imagine, I was very much looking forward to returning to Korea and defending my first professional victory."
Fowler's place in the elite 40-man field in Kuala Lumpur at the PGA Tour event will be taken by South Korea's Charlie Wi.
Fourteen-times major winner Tiger Woods will headline the Oct. 25-28 at the Mines Golf Course in Kuala Lumpur. (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)