Lee Westwood pulls out of World Match Play

Westwood becomes latest star to pull out of World Match Play

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UPDATED:

14:15 GMT, 25 April 2012

Lee Westwood has followed Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald in deciding not to play next month's Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain.

The world's top three all competed at Finca Cortesin near Marbella last May, but with Masters champion Bubba Watson and fellow American Hunter Mahan likely absentees as well, the highest-ranked player in the 24-man field looks set to be German Martin Kaymer.

Staying away: Westwood won't be at the World Match Play

Staying away: Westwood won't be at the World Match Play

Like McIlroy, Westwood is back as a member of the PGA Tour this season and that has led to a number of changes in his schedule.

He is not defending the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea this week, instead taking a week off before returning to the United States for the Wells Fargo Championship and Players Championship.

The 39-year-old world No 3 won the World Match Play at Wentworth in 2000, but went out at the last 16 stage to eventual winner Ian Poulter a year ago.

Favourite: Kaymer will be the highest ranked player in Spain

Favourite: Kaymer will be the highest ranked player in Spain

McIlroy was beaten at the same stage by Graeme McDowell while Donald reached the final, but the trio have all dropped the event so that they are fresher for the following week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and for the build-up to the US Open in San Francisco in June.

The 22-year-old Ulsterman has also decided not to play the Nordea Masters in Sweden the week before he defends his major title.

First prize at the Match Play is over 700,000 and those who exit at the group stage still walk away with more than 60,000.