Scott Wellington, the tournament director of the Orlando-based event, said he first learned Els might not play over the weekend when he received a heads-up E-mail from the London agency that represents Els.
Els, who won for the first time on U.S. soil in almost four years two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, cited fatigue for his withdrawal. Palmers tournament would have been the fourth in four weeks for Els.
Were obviously disappointed not to have the No. 3 ranked player in the world, Wellington said. But we still have a great field.
That field includes World Nos. 1 and 2, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, respectively. Woods won this event four straight years from 2000-2003. But he has failed to crack the top 10 at Bay Hill since then. Els and Mickelson are also both former Bay Hill winners.
The final field for the tournament that begins Thursday will be set at 120 players. And, Wellington said, the alternate replacing Els will be Cliff Kresge, who lives in nearby Apopka, Fl.