Shoulder trouble forces Faldo out of Irish Open

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Nick Faldo yesterday became the fourth Ryder Cup player to withdraw from the Nissan Irish Open at the County Louth Golf Club in Baltray before it even started. The three-time winner's season took another turn for the worse when a problem with his left shoulder led to him following Jesper Parnevik, Phillip Price and Thomas Bjorn out of the event. Faldo, 47 last Sunday, played all 18 holes of the pro-am, but then decided that pain in the joint and arm was causing him too much discomfort.

"It's been a problem for a few weeks now and I need to get it sorted out," said Faldo, who missed the halfway cut at both the US Open and Open championship. "The hard ground is making it too painful. I've had everybody working on me, but I'm just so tight - not just in my shoulder, but my hip as well. I'm struggling to make a full turn."

When Faldo finished fourth in the Volvo PGA championship at Wentworth in May he thought there was still a chance he could earn a record 12th Ryder Cup cap. But with only six qualifying events left he is down in 49th place in the points race, with only the top 10 earning automatic spots. Parnevik, Bjorn and Price are also fighting to gain their places.

The Swede's absence is also down to shoulder trouble. He missed the Scottish Open because of it, failed to qualify for the Open as a result and at the weekend decided to delay his comeback until next week's Scandinavian Masters.

Bjorn, who lost a play-off to Michael Campbell at Portmarnock a year ago, and Price cited "sickness" as their reason for pulling out.

The championship still boasts its two biggest attractions - Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington - as well as the likes of Luke Donald, Ian Woosnam and Ian Poulter.