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Gulbis withdraws from LPGA event with malaria

PHOENIX, Arizona (AFP) –

Natalie Gulbis of the US lines up a putt in northern Taoyuan county on December 8, 2012

Natalie Gulbis of the US lines up a putt during the second round of the Swinging Skirts 2012 World Ladies Masters at the Miramar Golf and Country Club in northern Taoyuan county on December 8, 2012. The LPGA Tour has stepped up its healthcare services for players and caddies taking part in this week’s Founders Cup tournament, following Gulbis’ withdrawal Wednesday due to malaria.

The LPGA Tour has stepped up its healthcare services for players and caddies taking part in this week’s Founders Cup tournament, following Natalie Gulbis’ withdrawal Wednesday due to malaria.

The American pulled out of the tournament after becoming ill while playing in a LPGA Tour event two weeks ago in Singapore.

“Natalie originally became ill in Singapore,” the LPGA Tour said in a statement. “Natalie continues to be treated at home and is expected to be at full strength in three weeks.

“Steps continue to be taken to ensure the well-being of Natalie and all the players on the LPGA Tour now and for future events.”

The LPGA said Gulbis is expected to make a full recovery, adding that a healthcare company will be at the tournament in Phoenix to draw blood from players and caddies who were in Singapore.

Fears of a malaria outbreak swirled after top golf coach Butch Harmon tweeted earlier this month that Gulbis and Pak Se Ri, who also withdrew from the Singapore event, were in hospital in Singapore with malaria.

Pak is not entered in the Phoenix event which kicks off the start of the American schedule on the Tour.

Ai Miyazato and Paula Creamer are both playing this week. They have recovered from whiplash injuries suffered in a car crash last month in Thailand.

Gulbis is likely to miss next week’s Carlsbad, California event as well. She hopes to be back for the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which begins April 4.

Gulbis was scheduled to play alongside Sophie Gustafson and Ryu So-yeon for the first two rounds. Nicole Jeray will now play alongside Gustafson and Ryu this week.

Last year, Yani Tseng held off Miyazato and Choi Na-yeon to claim a one-shot victory. Tseng two-putted from 45-feet on the 18th green as darkness fell upon the Wildfire Golf Club to earn her 14th career title.

Tseng has two top five finishes in the first three weeks of the season.

The winners of the first three events of the 2013, Stacy Lewis, Shin Ji-yai and Park In-bee, are also in the field this week following their victories in Asia.

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