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Since SBS International signed up last May to replace Mercedes-Benz as title sponsor of the season opener for the PGA Tour as lot has changed, not the least being the consequences of Tiger Woods scandal on the Tour and golf in general.

But life and the Tour go on and the renamed SBS Championship starts Thursday in Hawaii on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, Maui. This being a unique field in that only winners in the 2009 season are eligible but two of the biggest will be no shows.

Of course world’s number one Woods won’t show, not that he usually does so early in the season, but he’s off the Tour for now in self-imposed exile. And “Lefty,” Phil Mickelson makes no pretense of trying to play in the first couple of events, his season begins in Southern Californa.

Though world number 1 and number 2 are absent fans can expect to see lots of good play from the winners of last year’s majors. Stewart Cink, who beat out Tom Watson for the Open title, Y.E. Yang who did the same thing to Woods for the PGA Championship and Angel Cabrera the Masters winner. TV coverage from warm and sunny Hawaii to the cold mainland starts Thursday at 3:30pm on the Golf Channel moving to 6pm the subsequent three days.

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