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Rivals to seize on Tiger's abscence

KAPALUA, January 7 – Australian Geoff Ogilvy, who defends his title in the US PGA Tour's SBS Championship starting Thursday, says Tiger Woods' indefinite break from golf is an opportunity for his rivals."I think it’s an interesting time," Ogilvy said. "Obviously, number one in the world might be up for realistic grabs this year, depending on how it all takes shape.

"Phil (Mickelson) played fantastic at the end of last year. Phil’s years have always started unbelievably and have often petered out. Last year, he actually got better, which is good for him."

Ogilvy is the only player in the season-opening event who has won before at Kapalua. The field, which is limited to winners from the previous season, has only 28 players.

Superstar Woods, who last played Kapalua n 2005, said in December he would take an indefinite break from the game to focus on trying to rebuild his family after revelations of his marital infidelity.

Steve Stricker said he expected Woods would be back, and would come back strong.

"I have a feeling Tiger will be back," Stricker said. "He doesn’t need many events to get back to the top spot, whether it be in the FedEx Cup or money list or whatever. You never know. He could be out the whole year. I hope that he’s back sooner than later. But it does have that feel to start the season that it’s wide open."

Pat Perez, however, said Woods’ typical limited schedule meant his absence wouldn’t make that much difference, at least in the number of titles his rivals had in their sights.

"He wins six times, he plays 15 (tournaments)," Perez said. "There’s what, 38 events? So there’s always a lot up for grabs. I hope the people can see there is more to the tour than just Tiger.

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"We know how great he is," Perez added. "No one is questioning that. Maybe people will have a chance to say, ‘We are not watching Tiger all the time.’ We have to watch somebody else now while Tiger cleans up this mess. And there are some really good guys out there."

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