Mercedes Tees It Up With Top Two Missing

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The PGA Tour swings back into action this week with the Mercedes Championships on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Represented will be the winners of each of the tournaments of the 2002 season, though a big one will be missing - the world's top-ranked player, Tiger Woods. Another is the absence of the world No. 2, Phil Mickelson.
 
Woods had arthroscopic knee surgery in December to clean out debris from a recurring ailment. He then went to Sweden for the holidays, joining girlfriend Elin Nordegren at her parents' home in a small town near Stockholm.
 
Mickelson isn't participating, electing instead to spend time with his family, though he's probably also tired from heavy activity in 2002. He played a full schedule in the offseason since he will miss much of the early season. His wife is pregnant and due to deliver the couple's third child around the first week of April.
 
The top-ranked player thus becomes Ernie Els. The world No. 3 is skipping the South African Open in his native land to play the Mercedes, joining another South African, Retief Goosen.