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David Duval pulls out of NEC tournament

David Duval has withdrawn from this week’s NEC World Championship in Akron, Ohio with the same back problem which forced him out of last week’s US PGA Championship.

Duval quit the final major of the year after four holes of his second round. He was already 16 over par as his slump from world No1 to 137 continued.

The 2001 Open champion has not won since his triumph at Royal Lytham, has failed to make the cut in 14 of his 18 starts this year and has also suffered vertigo problems. His withdrawal from the field at Firestone leaves 86 players competing for the $1million first prize. They include 23 Europeans.

One of those is Nick Faldo, who returns to action after the birth of his fourth child, his sequence of successive majors having ended at 65 when he chose to stay at home rather than play at Oak Hill.

American Shaun Micheel’s victory there made it five first-time major winners in a row, but none was European. The last European winner was Paul Lawrie at the 1999 Open at Carnoustie.

"Everybody is talking about how Tiger has gone down, but he has inspired an awful lot of guys to come up," said Faldo.

Asked what Europe’s current crop might be lacking Faldo said: "I think it’s a little bit of everything. It’s understanding the commitment required and I’d like to help them, if they want to come and seek my advice."

Winner of six majors himself between 1987 and 1996, the 46-year-old practiced with Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Paul Casey at last month’s Open and was out with Poulter again at Firestone yesterday.

"There’s plenty of talent in Europe, but it’s putting it all together," Faldo added. "Rather than just being talented golfers you have to be better prepared physically, mentally, technically - all those areas."

Poulter wants to be known more for his golf than his hair, however, and after winning the Nordic Open two weeks ago was disappointed not to do better at Oak Hill last week. He was 61st after dropping six shots in his last four holes.

"I don’t dwell on things too much. I just look forward to the days coming," said Poulter.

He certainly wants to learn all he can from Faldo. "He was world No1 and a multi-major champion," added Poulter. "He’s still one of the best thinkers in the game."

Faldo squeezed into this week’s 86-strong field by virtue of being 50th in the world rankings last week. It is his first appearance since the Open and his first world championship since he lost to Woods in the first round of the match-play event in California in 1999.


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