GARY ANDERSON has withdrawn from The BetVictor Masters due to a back injury, and will be replaced by Stephen Bunting.
Two-time World Champion Anderson has been undergoing treatment on his back since his exit at the World Championship last month.
The Scot has now withdrawn from this weekend’s opening TV tournament of the year in Milton Keynes on medical advice.
“I’m really sorry to the fans that I won’t be there this weekend but it’s a long year and I want to make sure I’m out of action for as little time as possible,” said Anderson.
“I’ve been having a lot of physio work over the last few weeks and, as everyone knows, I’ve been struggling with my back for a long time.
“This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly but I haven’t been able to sleep properly, and even just a few minutes practice causes severe pain, so my physio advised me I must rest at the moment to reduce the risk of causing any serious long-term damage.”
Anderson will be replaced in the draw by Bunting, who under PDC rules is invited into the tournament as a direct replacement as the next highest ranked player on the PDC Order of Merit.
Bunting now meets Darren Webster on Friday night in the first round as one of four matches on the opening night at The Marshall Arena, with reigning champion Michael van Gerwen also in action.
The tournament will be broadcast live on ITV4 and worldwide through the PDC’s broadcast partners, and through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Tickets for the BetVictor Masters are available now from pdc.seetickets.com.
2019 BetVictor Masters
Schedule of Play
Friday February 1 (1900 GMT)
4x First Round
Daryl Gurney v Dave Chisnall
Mensur Suljovic v Simon Whitlock
Stephen Bunting v Darren Webster
Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton
Saturday February 2 (1900 GMT)
4x First Round
Gerwyn Price v James Wade
Rob Cross v Joe Cullen
Michael Smith v Ian White
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Sunday February 3
Afternoon Session (1300 GMT)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Semi-Finals & Final