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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Former world number one Ernie Els has withdrawn from the next two European Tour events to spend more time with his family as part of his plan to cut back on his touring schedule this year.
Els will miss the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in Durban in his native South Africa, which marks the re-start of the season after a brief break, as well as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.
The Durban event starts next week while the Abu Dhabi tournament is from January 16-19.
"I am really sorry to miss the Volvo Golf Champions and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship but for personal reasons I have decided to remain at home with my family and play my first event once my children return to school," the 44-year-old four-time major winner said in a statement.
"I apologize for the inconvenience and late notice of the decision and look forward to playing in South Africa again soon," he said a statement issued on Thursday.
Last month, Els, who lives in Florida in the U.S, said he was cutting his 2014 schedule, finding it hard to go on the road without his family.
"It's always been difficult leaving the house, but now you really see your kids growing up and it gets more difficult," he said.
"Family life is important and you don't want to miss out on their best years before they leave the house.
"Guys get to my age and your kids get to teenage years and it becomes a bit of a difficult scenario. It's getting tougher and tougher. The younger guys don't have too many hassles travelling ... but things change."
Currently ranked 27th in the world, Els, who was won more than $46-million in prize money, said travelling was "tougher and tougher".
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty