SHANGHAI, April 19 (UPI) --
The Asian Open has suffered a triple blow as Ernie Els
, Luke Donald
and David Howell
pulled out, leaving No. 15 Henrik Stenson
as the highest-ranked player.
As with the Tennis Masters Cup in November and the World Short Course Swimming Championships two weeks ago, the BMW Asian Open has been hit by "Shanghai sickness," the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.
On Tuesday Donald dropped out of the $1.8 million golf tournament with an ear infection and Howell quit because of a sore back, following Els who had a knee problem.
In November tennis stars Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi all quit the season-ending Masters Cup because of illness or injury.
Two weeks ago, swimming stars Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Michael Phelps and Roland Schoeman bailed out of the World Short Course Swimming Championships.
With its top audience draws out of the picture, the BMW Asian Open now looks to Stenson, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo, Paul Casey, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez to provide the fireworks, along with the top 10 players on the Asian Tour, headed by Jeev Milkha Singh, winner of the Volvo China Open last weekend.
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