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Clarke cancels schedule for family reasons

Britain's Darren Clarke has pulled out of next week's Sun City Golf Challenge in South Africa for family reasons, his manager said on Tuesday.

Clarke's wife Heather is unwell and the 36-year-old Northern Irishman has cancelled his playing schedule for the "foreseeable future".

The world number 12 has also withdrawn from this week's Nelson Mandela Invitational at Arabella Golf Club outside Cape Town.

"His wife Heather is having hospital tests to determine the severity of recent internal problems," Clarke's management said in a statement.

"He discovered his wife could be seriously ill on his return after winning for the first time this season nine days ago in Japan.

"He immediately decided not to play again for the foreseeable future."

Clarke, a member of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team at Oakland Hills, Detroit in September, won his first title of the year in the Japan Golf Tour's Taiheiyo Masters at Gotemba.

He was scheduled to play in the Sun City event alongside Americans Jim Furyk, Chris DiMarco, Jay Haas, Chad Campbell and Todd Hamilton, Australia's Stuart Appleby, South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, Zimbabwe's Nick Price, Swede Fredrik Jacobson and defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain.

Clarke's place in the 12-man field will be taken up by his compatriot and good friend Lee Westwood, tournament organisers said.

"Much as I am disappointed in having to withdraw from my obligations, I hope that everybody understands that it is vital I am with my wife and family at this time," Clarke added in the statement.

"Heather has been having problems and we are determined to get to the bottom of them as quickly as possible. It is a difficult time for all of us and I would ask that our privacy is respected."

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