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Six-time European Tour winner Francesco Molinari has withdrawn from the PGA Championship just minutes before he was set to tee off.

The 38-year-old Italian has been forced to withdraw from the event, citing a back injury as the reason.

American Brandon Hagy has taken Molinari’s place in the field.

“Unfortunately, I had to withdraw this morning during my warm up for an issue to my lower back,” said the 2018 Open Championship winner on social media.

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“I hope to get better quickly and be able to go back playing as soon as possible. Thanks everyone for the support.”

The Italian, who also has three wins on the PGA Tour, was scheduled to get his first round at Kiawah Island underway at 1pm (UK time), just half-an-hour after he made the announcement that he wouldn’t be taking part in this year’s event.

Molinari has played just four times since the beginning of March, missing the cut on three of those appearances and finishing 52nd at the Masters in April.

The Italian has suffered a rocky couple of years with his game, pointing to family reasons for his lack of tournaments, plummeting from No.7 in the world in May 2019 to world No.133, where he currently sits.

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Since January 2020, Molinari has missed more cuts than he has made and in that same timeframe his best finish came at both the American Express and the Genesis Invitational this year, where he finished in a tie for 8th.

Despite trending in the wrong direction, the Italian had posted three top-10 finishes already this season and had been seeking to improve upon his T2 finish at the PGA Championship in 2017 before injury struck.

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