Simpson confirms Open withdrawal

Runcorn and Widnes World: Webb Simpson won the US Open in San Francisco Webb Simpson won the US Open in San Francisco

For the second time in five years the Open Championship will not have the reigning US Open champion playing in it.

American Webb Simpson withdrew from the Royal Lytham field as expected on Friday because his wife is due to give birth in two weeks' time.

In 2008 Tiger Woods was unable to play at Birkdale after he underwent reconstructive knee surgery immediately after his 14th major victory at Torrey Pines.

Simpson indicated straight after his win in San Francisco last month that he did not see himself flying over the Atlantic.

He joins Australian Jason Day and 1998 winner Mark O'Meara in pulling out of next week's event. Day's wife has just given birth, while O'Meara has not played since March because of a rib injury.

Two weeks ago Simpson said: "I'm a guy who loves my family and we're probably only going to have a couple more babies, so I have the rest of my life to play in the British Open. I don't want to miss the birth of the second child, so it's an easy decision.

"After winning it's certainly a little harder not to go because I'd love to go and try to win another major, but in the grand scheme of things and grand scheme of life it's a decision that I know I'll always be happy that I made.

"The first experience watching my first son being born was one of the greatest experiences I think a person can have - and I don't want to miss it again."

His fellow American Ben Crane, 54th in the world, is first reserve but still does not have a place in the event despite this week's three withdrawals. That is because there could be more than the standard 156 players either exempt or qualified by the conclusion of the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic this weekend.

There are currently 155 in the field, but the leading non-exempt player at Castle Stuart and in Illinois - providing they finish in the first five on Sunday - also earn spots.

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