Virus keeps Tiger out of pro-am

POIPU BEACH (Hawaii): With Tiger Woods laid up with a virus and Phil Mickelson travelling, fans waiting to catch a glimpse or snap a photo of one of golf's glamour foursomes had to settle for half the field of the exclusive PGA Grand Slam of Golf. 

Woods, a five-time winner at the Grand Slam, had a stomach virus and withdrew from Monday's pro-am.  

Mickelson, the defending champion, wasn't even on the island yet. 

That left Vijay Singh and Michael Campbell at the oceanside Poipu Bay Golf Course to schmooze with 60 pro-am participants, ranging from business executives to popular island chefs. 

A HEAD START: Vijay Singh watches Michael Campbell hit a flop shot over a wall as part of a golf clinic before the Pro-Am at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Poipu Bay on Monday. --APpic

Campbell, who earned an invite with his stunning win at the US Open, seemed right at home in the islands.  

He was a local favourite, and dozens of flag-waving fans from his New Zealand homeland followed him every hole. 

“I think it's the Polynesian connection,'' said Campbell, the first Kiwi to win a Major since Bob Charles won the British Open in 1963. “I have a lot of support here and it's wonderful.'' 

Campbell was honoured with a traditional New Zealand haka by a half-dozen men, before the pro-am. 

Tournament officials said they expect both Woods and Mickelson to play in the 36-hole event for winners of this year's Majors. 

Mickelson, the PGA Championship winner, was at home in San Diego attending to “family obligations,'' but was scheduled to arrive before his round, PGA of America spokesman Julius Mason said. 

It was the second pro-am Mickelson skipped this month. He also withdrew from the Tour Championship. 

Woods, fresh from a successful defence of his title at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, was treated by a local doctor on Monday for a stomach virus. He was given antibiotics and told to rest all day. 

He was also taking an extra day to rest a sprained ankle, which he twisted on his tee shot during a playoff in Japan. 

Vijay, the oldest of the foursome at 42, kept his usual gruelling practice routine at the range and green while his opponents were away. He even outlasted many fans. 

With Woods claiming two Majors this year, Vijay earned a berth based on his major finishes.  

He tied for fifth in the Masters, shared sixth in the US Open, tied for fifth at St. Andrews in the British and tied for 10th at the US PGA. 

He entered the year ranked No. 1 and finished with four wins and 18 top-10 finishes.  

All four players will go home richer.  

The Grand Slam winner will earn US$400,000, while the fourth-place finisher will get US$150,000. – AP  

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