Hamstring puts Clarke out of Masters

The Masters field, already the slimmest of golf’s major championships, was reduced by one Monday when former British Open champion Darren Clarke withdrew.

According to Clarke’s management company, the 2011 winner of the Claret Jug pulled a hamstring more than a week ago while on holiday in the Bahamas.

“It is with deep regret that I will not be able to play at Augusta this year,” Clarke said in a release from International Sports Management. “Playing in The Masters is one of golf’s greatest pleasures, and I am very disappointed to be missing out.”

Clarke, 44, had also withdrawn from the Valero Texas Open. The press release from ISM officials said he was still in the Bahamas.

When Clarke won at Royal Lytham, it earned him a five-year exemption into the Masters, and he returned to the season’s first major in 2012 for the first time since 2007. He missed the cut, and his best finish at Augusta National remains the tie for eighth achieved in his debut, in 1998.

Clarke’s withdrawal lowers the field number to 93 players. The Masters does not have alternates, so nobody took his spot.