Sports Outside the Beltway

Tiger Woods to Skip PGA Tour’s Season Opener

This will mark the second consecutive year Tiger skips the year opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.

KAPALUA, Maui. – Tiger Woods decided Friday to skip the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, meaning the PGA Tour’s “new era in golf” will begin next week amid old questions about the absence of its biggest star.

Woods, who was skiing with his family last week in Colorado, said he did not have time to get his game ready and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

He has won six consecutive PGA Tour events, a streak that will remain on hold until Jan. 25 at the Buick Invitational in San Diego, where Woods is the two-time defending champion.

Woods said on his Web site that he has spent the last 12 days skiing and relaxing with family and friends, “but I’ve basically been away from golf since winning the Target World Challenge” on Dec. 17.

“I considered playing in next week’s Mercedes-Benz Championship, the official launch of the new FedExCup, but I just haven’t been able to prepare,” Woods said. “I usually spend at least one week working on my game before a tournament, and have been unable to do that this year.”

It was the second straight year Woods will not play the winners-only tournament. He missed last year to spend time with his father, whose health was rapidly deteriorating from cancer. Earl Woods died May 3. The only other time Woods did not go to Kapalua was in 2003, when he was recovering from knee surgery.

PGA Tour players are indepenedent contractors and therefore Tiger can set his own schedule. Still Tiger can be criticized for his lack of commitment to the PGA Tour. Last year he skipped the Tour Championship claiming he was tired but played the three following weeks in Asia or Hawaii. Was Tiger tired or was it the lack of appearance money on PGA Tour?

Phil Mickelson isn’t playing next week either. I have never liked Tim Finchem’s FedeX Cup and with Woods and Mickelson setting their own schedules, I predict the FedeX will be the way of the dodo bird within five years. No fan interest and no star players equals one big dud.

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