Top four to skip Mercedes

A victory on the PGA Tour earns a player many things. A two-year exemption. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. And an invite to the season-opening Mercedes Benz Championship. But none of the top four players in the world rankings will be showing their faces for the Jan. 8-11 event.

Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington are all skipping the Hawaii stop at Kapalua Resort, ESPN.com's Jason Sobel has learned. Of the 37 eligible participants, 33 are expected to tee it up at Kapalua next week.

Woods, who is recovering from knee surgery and ranked No. 1 in the world, hasn't played the PGA Tour's first event of the season since 2005 when he finished tied for third. He won the event in 1997 and 2000, both times in playoffs. Garcia, who recently overtook Mickelson as No. 2 in the world, has competed four times and won in his first appearance in 2002.

Of the four no shows, Mickelson has the most appearances with seven, including victories in 1994 and 1998 while Harrington, ranked No. 4 in the world, has never played in the Mercedes Benz Championship.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.