DEFENDING champion Stuart Appleby has been forced to withdraw from the Australian Masters due to a back injury.
Appleby played the first round at Victoria Golf Club and fired a one-under-par 70.
However he said on Friday before he was due to hit off that his back injury had become too painful for him to continue.
Appleby made the decision after consulting his coach Steve Bann and physiotherapist Tina Maio.
The Victorian said earlier in the week he was confident that with rest and continued treatment he would be fit to resume playing when the US PGA Tour gets underway next year.