Major champs sitting out Tour opener

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The 2011 PGA Tour season starts next week in Maui, but only one of this year’s major winners will be in attendance.

The 2011 PGA Tour season starts next week with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, but only one of this year’s major winners will be in attendance.

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was set to participate, but made a last minute decision not to start his travels that early in the season. Instead, the young South African will be staying close to home, playing in the European Tour’s Africa Open alongside compatriots Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel.

“I decided not to go and play the two tournaments in Hawaii because that won’t leave me with enough off time before the start of the new season,” Oosthuizen told europeantour.com.

US PGA champ Martin Kaymer and Masters champ Phil Mickelson will both be starting their new seasons later in January, leaving Graeme McDowell, the current US Open Champion, as the only current major champion set to take part. It will be only the fourth time that the PGA Tour season-opener will feature just one major winner.

Aside from the three major champions, there are a host of other big names also set to miss out, including the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and new world No. 1 Lee Westwood.

One surprise addition to the field is Italian Francesco Molinari, who qualified by winning the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Molinari is not a regular Tour member, so the win does not count as an official PGA Tour victory, but it does allow him entry into the Tournament of Champions. It will only be the Italian’s second ‘regular’ PGA Tour event of his career, the other being 2009’s Reno-Tahoe Open.

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