Injury scare for McDowell in Texas
Graeme McDowell withdrew with a leg injury after just nine holes of the Valero Texas Open. Picture via Twitter/  @JamesHaddockSky

Graeme McDowell withdrew with a leg injury after just nine holes of the Valero Texas Open. Picture via Twitter/@JamesHaddockSky

Graeme McDowell should be fit for the Masters after opting to pull out of the Valero Texas Open after just nine holes of the opening round with a niggling leg injury.

The 35-year old world No 23, who sandwiched a share of 56th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral between missed cuts in the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, was five over par for his round in high winds when he got to the 18th, his ninth. 

He then reluctantly opted to withdraw as a precaution with just two weeks to go before the first major of the season at Augusta National

After resting next week — he will not add the Shell Houston Open to his schedule, a spokesman confirmed — he should be fit to tee it up at Augusta for the eighth time.

"Apologies to everyone at @valerotxopen for my withdrawal," McDowell tweeted after apologising to playing partners Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk at TPC San Antonio.
"Strained my lower left leg/ankle area practicing y/day and played with heavy strapping on it in the pro am and this morning. With The Masters upcoming I decided that getting fit is imperative.
"Don't like WDs. The week here at @valerotxopen had everything I wanted. Great people and great course. Disappointed this has happened. Thanks to everyone."

High winds played havoc with the field in San Antonio, where Charley Hoffman shot a bogey free 67 to lead by one from Aaron Baddeley as afternoon starter Shane Lowry battled back from four over with five to play to post a two over 74 that was good enough for a share of 32nd.

The Clara man bogeyed the seventh, eighth and ninth to turn in 39 and then three-putted the 12th to go four over before holing a 14 footer for birdie at the 14th.

Back to three over, he made two good saves at the 15th and 16th before driving the green and two putting for birdie at the 347-yard 17th, setting up a two-putt birdie. A lay up into the right rough at the 18th meant he could hit his 97-yard third close and had to settle for a par five. But a 74 was still a reasonable return considering his score after 13 holes.

Hoffman's round was a sensational one on a day when winds gusting up to 38mph allowed just 12 players to break par, including Phil Mickelson, who broke an eight iron hitting out of a fairway trap.

The left-hander shot a two under 70 to share fourth with Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker in a seven-way share of seventh after one under 71s.