Bad back to keep Ames from defending title

October 29, 2010, 2:47 PM


A frustrating season for Stephen Ames is ending with one final piece of bad news.

The Calgary golfer has been advised to rest his ailing back and will have to skip the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, an event he’s won two of the last three years.

Ames has been bothered by back problems in the past and had to withdraw from last week’s event in Las Vegas after playing 27 holes.

"I’m beyond disappointed to have to miss out on defending my (title) in two weeks, but I’ve been experiencing pain in my lower back," Ames said Friday in a statement. "My doctor’s advice is to rest it for the next few weeks to prevent it from becoming a longer-term issue."

The Disney event will be held Nov. 11-14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The tournament has long been a favourite for Ames and not just because half of his PGA Tour wins have come there. He often brings his family to the event — son Ryan walked the back nine when he won last year — and enjoys how laid-back it is.

"It was a very casual round," Ames said after winning a two-hole playoff in 2009. "Casual round of golf. It’s Mickey Mouse, come on."

He’s the second notable Canadian golfer to have his season end prematurely because of injury. Mike Weir has been sidelined since August with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and is hoping to return for the Shark Shootout in mid-December, one of golf’s "silly season" events that comes after the PGA Tour schedule has ended.

Ames is hoping to return early in 2011 at the Bob Hope Classic.

Canada’s most prominent players have seen their world rankings plummet over the last couple years. Ames is currently the country’s top-ranked golfer at No. 99 and is followed by Weir at No. 129 and Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., at No. 178.

This season was particularly tough for Ames. He made the cut in 17 of 23 events, but only posted one top-10 finish while earning US$916,527 — his lowest total since 2001.

It would have been reasonable for him to expect the year to finish on a high note at Disney. In eight appearances at the tournament, he’s earned $1,763,480.

Instead, he’ll have to wait until 2011 to return to one of his favourites stops on the tour.

"Obviously winning at Disney two of the past three years has made this tournament a very special one for me and my family, which makes the situation even more disappointing," Ames said. "But in this case I have to make sure that I’m taking care of my health."


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