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Woods to miss Mercedes Championship

Tiger Woods will miss the 2003 PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes Championships in Hawaii after having surgery on his left knee last week, the tournament director has said.

Woods underwent a successful one-hour procedure to remove fluid inside and outside the anterior cruciate ligament but his manager Mark Steinberg has since ruled out any chance of the world number one playing in Maui from January 9-12.

"I am trying to put as positive a spin on this as I can," tournament director Gary Planos told Reuters. "But our first concern is Tiger's surgery and his rehabilitation.

"We sure want to see Tiger get well -- we enjoy watching him as much as everyone else does."

Planos said he had been told by Steinberg on the phone that Woods "would not be able to come to Hawaii due to his surgery".

It will be the first time that the 26-year-old Woods has missed a tournament through injury.

"I had been playing in pain for most of the year and felt it was time to take care of it," Woods said after his arthroscopic surgery.

"From what I've been told, the operation went well. I'm looking forward to a full recovery and a great start to 2003."

Dr. Thomas Rosenberg, the surgeon who carried out last Thursday's procedure, said the world number one should be fully fit again by February.

"Progressive full recovery is expected over the next couple of months," said Rosenberg.

Woods was a five times winner on this year's PGA Tour, including the first two majors of the season -- the U.S. Masters and U.S. Open.

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