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Ernie Els out with finger injury

Ernie Els has pulled out of this week's Chrysler Championship in Florida due to a finger injury, the world number two said on his official website.

The 35-year-old South African, who clinched the 2004 European Tour order of merit title with a record sixth World Match Play Championship nine days ago, hopes to be fit for the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship next week.

"This is not the sort of decision I ever take lightly and I'm sorry for the sponsors and everyone else involved in the tournament," said the three-times major winner.

"But I've got no choice, unfortunately. I've injured a finger on my left hand. I can't even grip the club properly, let alone hit shots.

"I know from the last time I was injured that you can't take any chances with things like this.

"You have to make sure it's 100 percent right before you play again, otherwise you can easily make the problem far worse and be out of action for several weeks."

Els had to withdraw from last year's Players Championship at Sawgrass, widely regarded as the 'fifth' major, after injuring his right wrist while using a punch bag at his England home.

"I wasn't anticipating having this week off," the twice U.S. Open champion added. "...I'll have to concentrate on getting fully fit for the all-important Tour Championship next week."

Els has won five times worldwide this year and lies third in the U.S. money list, behind leader Vijay Singh and second-placed Phil Mickelson, with earnings of $5,629,025 from 15 events.

He put behind him the disappointment of failing to clinch any of this year's majors, despite being in contention in all four going into the final day, with victory at the prestigious WGC-American Express Championship at the start of this month.

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