Irish Ryder Cup hopeful Paul McGinley has withdrawn from this week’s USPGA Championship at the Medinah Golf Club following the sad news that his close friend Darren Clarke has lost his wife Heather to breast cancer.

Heather Clarke passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning following a four year battle with the disease. As a show of support for Clarke and his family, McGinley has jeopardised his own Ryder Cup qualification in order to be present at Heather’s funeral – tipped to take place in Ireland this weekend.

McGinley is currently lying in the final qualifying position in Europe’s European ranking points list, and with extra points available this week due to the USPGA’s status as a Major championship his dream of representing Europe in Ireland next month has been threatened by his withdrawal. Supporting his close friend in his hour of need is clearly more of a priority.

“Our two families are very much intertwined and that is the root of my decision to pull out,” explained McGinley.

“Heather and Ali (McGinley’s wife) were the best of friends and our children are in the same class at school. You don’t ever want to see anybody go and you always hold out hope right until the last minute – and boy did she put up some battle.”

“Darren will have some issues to deal with now, but we will fully support him in any way we can. It has been a tough ride for all of us over the last few years but especially for Darren. He is in our thoughts and our prayers.”