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Peter Lonard out for two months after injury

Australian Open champion Peter Lonard will miss the first six weeks of the new golf season after breaking a rib this week while doing stretching exercises before a training session.

Lonard, whose career was threatened when he contracted the Ross River virus which affects the eyes in 1993, was training in Florida earlier this week when the mishap occurred.

World number 42 Lonard felt a rib crack while stretching and will now miss two tournaments in Australia as well as two U.S. PGA tournaments, Australian Broadcasting Corp radio said.

Officials from the Heineken Golf Classic, which tees off in Melbourne next month, said they had been hopeful of including Lonard in their field.

"I am confident we would have had a good chance of securing Peter Lonard if it had not been for such an unfortunate injury that has put him on the sidelines for the next four to six weeks," tournament chairman Tony Roosenburg told reporters in Melbourne.

Defending champion Ernie Els will join Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam in the February 5-8 tournament at the Royal Melbourne course.

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