GRAEME STORM’S injury nightmare is set to continue after being forced to delay his comeback once again.

Hartlepool’s two-time European Tour winner is having to have further surgery on his troubled wrist on Monday, meaning he has had to pull out of appearing in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the first time.

Storm, who won the South Africa Open two years ago today (Tuesday), had targeted this week to make his return to action after he was given a reduced playing card of 15 tournaments on medical grounds following last year’s frustrations.

The 40-year-old has not played since he was forced to withdraw from the second round of the Trophee Hassan II last April, the culmination of an annoying few months when he only made two cuts from the seven competitions he battled through in pain.

Storm said: “I was all set to go this week and was supposed to go on Friday, but when I was practising last Tuesday I got a pain in my hand and a massive lump came up.

“It’s like scar tissue from the original key hole surgery and now I have got to go back in and rather than key hole the surgeon is going to open it up and clean it all out. I will be stitched up and hopefully it won’t happen again.

“I’m gutted after all my hard work over Christmas. I worked really hard on my fitness and my swing and was feeling good. I was obvious a bit apprehensive of how my game would be for tournament golf but was ready.

“I have never missed the Abu Dhabi event since it started in 2006 – and this time two years ago I was winning in South Africa (beating Rory McIlroy in the South Africa Open).

“It’s also disappointing because this week is a Rolex Series event, meaning if you play well you can pretty much keep your card after one event.”

Storm’s playing privileges for this year are restricted anyway, so he knows when he does make his return to the tee box he will have a shorter period of time to make the grade.

He is trying to stay positive and will be looking to climb into the top 110 before the end of the year to earn his card for 2020.

If surgery goes to plan and rehabilitation is smooth then he would like to think he could be back for the British Masters hosted by Tommy Fleetwood in May. There are 16 tournaments before that he will miss, although he was not going to be playing in the majority of those anyway.

He said: “I can still get my 15 events events in. If I had played injured this week then I would have lost one of those. I knew straightaway away last Tuesday when it happened.

“Worst case scenario it will be June when I am back, hopefully May. I was always going to try to play my 15 this year and still want that.

“I might be able to play half this year and half next year, I would have to talk to the Tour. It’s all ifs and buts. I want to play 15 this year.

“My mindset is to have surgery, I can’t drive for two weeks after that and I will then see what my mobility is like. Then get back to the gym. The process will then be to hit the balls at the end of March and have a six week run for practice before my comeback.

“I have to remember I would have only been playing in five events with the schedule I had given myself before the Masters.”

Storm will also spend more time with the family during his recovery. He has also stepped up his work with junior golf during his lay-off, with his Graeme Storm Junior Open and Mini Storm events scheduled to take place again this year.

His Junior Open will be at Hartlepool again for golfers aged 11-18 on Saturday, April 27.

The Mini Storm has grown this year and will be a Trophy Series. It will be held at Rudding Park (April 20), Consett (May 18) and The Wynyard Club (June 15) for golfers aged 7-10.

For further information check out Graeme Storm’s website.

Storm, who is now working with the Golf Foundation and Durham Union as well as Dyke House College, said: “The junior stuff is going well, we have had lots of entries as we speak.

“Hopefully the Mini Storm Series will do well, it’s the first time we have tried it like that. The Junior Open is in its fourth year.

“It is all going really well and we have just got to keep working on it, I am enjoying it and this year we will be fundraising for the Percy Hedley Foundation, which should work well.”