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Friday, June 12, 2009
Karlsson out of Open; Svoboda in


NEW YORK -- Robert Karlsson of Sweden, the No. 1 player in Europe in 2008, has withdrawn from next week's U.S. Open because of an eye infection, organizers said on Friday.

Karlsson, who tied for fourth in last year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, has been struggling with depth perception in his left eye, according to his manager.

The 39-year-old has been replaced in the Open field at Bethpage Black by American Andrew Svoboda.

A nine-time winner on the European Tour and the first Swedish player to clinch the circuit's Order of Merit title, Karlsson pulled out of last week's Wales Open because of an inner ear infection.

"I just can't play," he said at the time. "I've had this for quite a while so I am going to take some time off before the U.S. Open.

"My balance is out and I can't see the lines, I just don't see anything. I'm struggling big time with my balance on my short game. When the ball's standing up a little in the air, I've no idea where it is."

Karlsson's consistency set him apart from the rest on the 2008 European Tour as he piled up eight top-three finishes, including victories at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

He flourished in the majors with a tie for eighth place at last year's Masters, a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open and a tie for seventh at the British Open.

This season, however, Karlsson has recorded only one top-10 finish in eight starts, a tie for fourth at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.