sport

Westwood paired with Singh

Lee Westwood has been paired with Vijay Singh for the opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am in California on Thursday.

Last Thursday, Singh pulled out of the Phoenix Open hours before he was due to tee off citing a back injury, just a day after admitting he had been using a deer antler spray previously found to contain a prohibited growth hormone.

The withdrawal of Fiji's former world number one had some people wondering if he had been suspended from the PGA Tour over the incident, but after practising for this week's event he was reported to be involved in talks with Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday.

When the Fijian finished his Tuesday session on the driving range, a journalist tried to speak to him but Singh refused to comment.

Singh, who turns 50 later this month but is still inside the game's top 100, admits having used the spray, but has stated he did not know its link to the prohibited substance IGF-1.

"At no time was I aware," he said in a statement. "I am absolutely shocked ... and am angry that I have put myself in this position.

"I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and an co-operating filly with their review of this matter."

The Tour carries out drug-testing but does not take blood, and that is thought to be the only way to detect the banned IGF-1 hormone.

Westwood, now back as a member of the PGA Tour and living in Florida, has flown from Dubai - a 12-hour time difference - for his first appearance in the event since 2005.

England's world number eight, who finished joint fifth at the Omega Desert Classic, teams up with his father John in the pro-am competition, which last year saw Padraig Harrington and Irish racehorse owner JP McManus share the title.

Harrington came joint seventh in the individual event and is back now to try to improve on that in a line-up headed by defending champion and last week's winner Phil Mickelson.

The left-hander almost broke 60 last Thursday, but he has fond memories too of the closing 64 last year because it came as playing partner Tiger Woods was taking 75.

Woods, who won at Torrey Pines a fortnight ago, is not back to attempt revenge.

Harrington plays the opening round at Spyglass Hill - three courses are used - with Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello, another to make the long journey from Dubai, while Mickelson, seeking a record-equalling fifth victory in the tournament, is at Monterey Peninsular with fellow Australian Rod Pampling.