LOS ANGELES, Nov 13 — Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama withdrew from the third round of the Houston Open on Saturday with a neck injury, just the latest injury setback for the Japanese star.

Matsuyama, who became the first Asian man to win a major when he triumphed at Augusta National in 2021, opened his third round at Memorial Park Golf Course with a four-over par 39 in his first nine holes, including a double-bogey at the par-five 16th.

He had made the cut on the number on Saturday morning, completing a second straight even par round of 70 as the weather-disrupted second round concluded.

Matsuyama has battled injuries for much of 2022.

A back injury saw him withdraw from the Players Championship and the Valero Texas Open before his title defence at the Masters in April.

Injury also forced him out after the first round of the 3M Open in Minnesota in July, and he pulled out of the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, first event of the tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs in August, with a neck injury.

Matsuyama, 30, is currently 19th in the world rankings. His injury struggles have blighted a year that he opened with a dramatic playoff victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii, his eighth US PGA Tour title. — AFP