UPDATE 2-Golf-Howell, Clarke and Maruyama pull out of Sawgrass

Thu May 10, 2007 9:09pm BST

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(Updates with Clarke withdrawal)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida May 10 (Reuters) - Britons David Howell and Darren Clarke and Daisuke Maruyama of Japan withdrew from the Players Championship on Thursday because of injury.

Howell, who has battled several fitness problems in recent years, pulled out with a bad back after playing just two holes of the opening round at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.

Northern Irishman Clarke made his early exit after six holes due to a lingering hamstring strain.

Clarke, like Howell, also withdrew from the second round of last week's Wachovia Championship after tweaking a hamstring injury first suffered last month.

Maruyama, a rookie on the PGA Tour last year, quit the Players Championship with a bad back after shooting a 13-over-par 85 in difficult, blustery conditions.