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Miss Match: Els withdraws from WGC event
by Associated Press

World No. 3 Ernie Els withdrew from next week's WGC Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday, citing family considerations.

"My decision to withdraw from the WGC Accenture Match Play is based solely on my family priorities taking precedence over my professional schedule," said Els in a statement on his web site.

"Unfortunately, and with much regret, this year's WGC Accenture Match Play falls on the week preceding Samantha, my daughter, beginning her first year of school in London. As every parent knows, this is a milestone in the life of a child and I therefore have chosen to share this time with my daughter and family."

Els had talked earlier this year about toning down his globe-trotting schedule that sees him play on as many as five continents a year. Els has committed to play at the Dubai Desert Classic, held the week following the Match Play tournament.

The South African's best finish at the WGC event is 4th in 2001 -- the only year it was not held at La Costa Resort and Spa. He has never advanced past the second round in his other four starts. Els lost to Phil Tataurangi 1-up in 20 holes in the first round last year. The Big Easy has five HSBC Match Play titles at the event held in October, which features 36-hole matches instead of 18-hole matches.

Els' departure from the 64-player field allows Japan's Shingo Katayama to play in the $7 million event. World No. 42 Kirk Triplett already announced that he will not be playing due to a friend's wedding and was replaced by Briny Baird. World No. 5 Jim Furyk is nursing a wrist injury and may also withdraw from the field. No. 67 John Rollins would be the next player in the field should the reigning U.S. Open champion or another player opt out.

The top 64 players in the world golf rankings originally qualified for the field. The brackets are finalized on Monday evening.


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