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Kim withdraws from Players Championship with thumb injury

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Anthony Kim, one of the hottest players on the U.S. Tour, has withdrawn from this week's Players Championship because of an injured left thumb, officials said Tuesday.

Despite dealing with the bad thumb, world number 11 Kim won last month's Houston Open, finished third at the U.S. Masters and tied for seventh at last week's Quail Hollow championship.

"This injury has been well documented over the past month, and I've been doing everything I can to play through it, but it became more of an issue last week and needs to be looked at," Kim said in a statement posted on the tour's website (www.pgatour.com).

"I'm extremely disappointed to have to miss The Players Championship, but will consult with my doctors this week and follow their recommendations for treatment."

Kim, who played with eventual champion Rory McIlroy of Britain Sunday at Quail Hollow, had said last week he would likely need surgery to reattach the ligament between his index finger and left thumb some time this year.

Fellow-American Chad Collins replaced Kim.

Monday, third-ranked American Steve Stricker withdrew with a sore right shoulder and was replaced by compatriot Spencer Levin.

The championship at TPC Sawgrass, considered the "fifth major" by the players, begins Thursday.

(Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Justin Palmer)