Especially among the 50-and-over crowd, nagging injuries are an unavoidable part of golf. And unfortunately for organizers of the 3M Championship, they have lost one of this year's biggest names because of one.

Minnesota native Tom Lehman, whose picture adorned nearly every piece of this year's 3M Championship propaganda from media guides to paid advertisements, withdrew from the field Monday because of a bothersome knee injury.

"Anytime the tour number pops up on my cell phone, it's not a good sign," said tournament director Hollis Cavner, who received the news via phone early Monday afternoon. "Tom's one of the good guys on tour, local guy, and I wanted him here."

Lehman, 51, was Cavner's ace in the hole.

"He and Arnold [Palmer] designed this course together and I wanted them here together. Is it the end of all? Hell no. We've still got all these Hall of Famers. I've got the hottest guys. But it bothers me because we really wanted to do something special."

Withdrawing from the 3M will give Lehman a chance to rest more than his knee.

Several Champions Tour players are on the tail end of a brutal trans-Atlantic travel schedule. This week's event comes on the heels of two major tournaments with predetermined dates not co-sponsored by the PGA Tour -- the Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open -- held back-to-back weeks in Carnoustie, Scotland and Sammamish, Wash., nearly 4,500 miles apart. Lehman also played in the British Open on July 15-18 and the Scottish Open on July 8-11.

That the 3M Championship, which was voted by the players as the top event on the Champions Tour last year, occurs after many top players have been continent-hopping did not sit well with Cavner. Monday, he especially wasn't a fan.

"It's strictly because of the schedule," Cavner said of Lehman's withdrawal and the likes of Champions Tour stars Tom Watson and Fred Couples opting to skip this event altogether. "The people who have done the scheduling for the USGA and for the PGA Tour have done a horrible disservice to this tour and to the No. 1-rated event on tour, which is ours. We've been absolutely just killed by the scheduling conflict. I was very worried about it."

With no regular PGA Tour stop in Minnesota, this was supposed to be Lehman's big homecoming after his Goldy Gopher head cover salute to adoring fans on the 72nd hole at last year's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National in Chaska.

Lehman, the 1996 British Open champion, opted to skip last year's 3M -- the first he was eligible -- to instead play in the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour. Lehman missed the cut in that event, but he has stayed competitive. He won the Senior PGA Championship in May and has finished 12th or better in all but one of the nine Champions Tour events he has entered this year. In six PGA Tour events, he made four cuts.

But his right knee has been a problem dating to at least 2000, when he withdrew from the now-defunct International because of torn cartilage. He had surgery before the PGA Championship later that summer.

After the first round of the Senior PGA Championship nine weeks ago, Lehman addressed his balky knee, saying, "It's been bothering me all year."

Not that it's impossible to play hurt.

Motorized golf carts have been allowed at most Champions Tour events -- though not the majors -- since 2006, and 2008 3M Championship winner R.W. Eaks, who got into this year's event as an alternate when Lehman withdrew, could barely stand at times en route to his victory.

"We're all getting older," Cavner said. "You feel bad for Tom and having an injury. But I'm talking to other players and everybody's coming in here beat up and sore and hurt. A lot of guys need a day off."

Tom Pernice Jr., who missed the cut in last week's Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour, also withdrew Monday, opening the door for James Mason.