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Danny Willett withdraws from Arnold Palmer Invitational

Danny Willett has pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational just three weeks before defending his Masters title at Augusta National.

Willett was due to tee off in the morning at Bay Hill, but pulled out due to illness, and was replaced in the field by American Blayne Barber.

The World No.14 will now have just a single tournament--next week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas--to find some form ahead of the year's first major championship.

The 29-year-old wrote on Twitter: "Really sad to have to withdraw from the @APinv. I've been up all night with terrible sickness. Not ideal but felt it worse to take a spot from the first reserve if I wasn't able to finish. Come Sunday I’m sure there'll be great champ once again."

This week's event is the first since Palmer's death last year. The seven-time major winner, who died at the age of 87 in September, created the event, which bears his name in 1979, after buying Bay Hill Club and Lodge four years earlier.

A 14-foot bronze statue of Palmer was unveiled at the course on Saturday, while Willett was among the players who had the tournament's "umbrella" logo on their bags for the week.

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