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WATFORD, England (Reuters) - Ian Poulter, tournament host for the British Masters on his home course at Woburn in 2015, has apologised for electing to miss this year's edition.
The 40-year-old caused raised eyebrows when he decided to make his playing comeback following a four-and-a-half month injury layoff at this week's Macao Open on the Asian Tour rather than at The Grove course just outside London.
When the British Masters returned to the European Tour schedule last season after a seven-year absence, it was announced that Poulter, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood would share hosting privileges for the next four years.
However, in a double blow for the 2016 event, Poulter chose to make his comeback from a foot injury at the Macao Open while Olympic champion Rose decided last week to take two months off due to a back problem and a hectic recent tournament schedule.
"I'm really sorry I can't be there with you at The Grove this week. I know you are very disappointed but there's a very simple reason," the Florida-based Englishman told British Masters organisers in a video message.
"I've got a very limited amount of tournaments to play to regain my PGA Tour status (in America)...only 10 events.
"The first one is in Malaysia next week and I really wanted to be in a similar time zone so that I could play that event and be as fresh as possible," added Poulter.
"I wanted to be at the British Masters. Hosting it last year at Woburn was a huge thrill and honour for me."
Poulter, who has recorded 12 European Tour wins and been a figurehead for the Ryder Cup team in five matches as a player, was 56th in the world rankings at the end of last year but the spell of inactivity has led to him dropping down to 124th.
Editing by Ed Osmond