PGA Tour in Maui for 2009 lid-lifter


PGA TourKAPALUA, Hawaii ' The PGA Tour season begins, as it always does, with a tournament for the previous year's winners.
The Mercedes-Benz Championship, the first of back-to-back events in Hawaii, officially begins the third season of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup.
Two-time Mercedes-Benz winner Tiger Woods, still recovering from the left knee surgery he had after winning the U.S. Open, is among four 2008 winners who are skipping this week's tournament.
Padraig Harrington, the reigning British Open and PGA Championship winner, Phil Mickelson, also a two-time champion in '08, and Sergio Garcia will not be in the field either.
But there will be 33 players making the trip to Kapalua, including Masters winner Trevor Immelman, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, reigning FedEx Cup champion Vijay Singh and defending champion Daniel Chopra.
Last year, Chopra booked his ticket back to Hawaii by rolling in a birdie putt at the fourth playoff hole to beat Steve Stricker. Chopra had squandered a three-shot lead over the last five holes of regulation.
The Golf Channel will have nearly 18 hours of coverage this week, then nearly 18 more next week when K.J. Choi defends his title at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the season's first full-field event.
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