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Coceres, Mickelson to miss Mercedes

Season-opening tourney features only winners

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KAPALUA, Hawaii — Jose Coceres of Argentina, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, broke his arm playing soccer with friends and will be out for at least six weeks.

Coceres and Phil Mickelson will be the only players to miss the season-opening Mercedes Championships, a winners-only field that starts Thursday at Kapalua.

That leaves 32 players in the field at Kapalua, including Tiger Woods, David Duval and defending champion Jim Furyk.

Mickelson previously told tournament officials he wanted to be home with his family during the holidays. The Mickelsons have a 2-month-old daughter.

Coceres was a rags-to-riches story on the PGA Tour last year. A 38-year-old who learned to play golf using sticks and rocks for his equipment, he won at Hilton Head in a playoff, then held off Davis Love III to win at Disney.

The injury occurred Dec. 21 in Cardales, Argentina, where Coceres and a group of friends often meet in a field and play soccer.

"Jose thought he was 20 instead of 38 and charged the ball more aggressively than he should have," his agent, Robert Gutierrez, said Tuesday. "He apologizes to everybody. He knows he can't go to the Tournament of Champions, and that it's not easy to go every year."

Gutierrez said Coceres suffered a hairline fracture in his lower left arm and will be in a cast for three weeks. He hopes to return in time for the Nissan Open on Feb. 14, which would give him one tournament to get ready for the Match Play Championship.

Mickelson, meanwhile, continues his longest break from golf.

He last played the NEC Invitational at Firestone, where he tied for eighth. That was one week after David Toms beat him with a 12-foot par putt on the final hole of the PGA Championship.

Mickelson skipped the Tour Championship after his second daughter was born, and does not plan to return until either the Bob Hope Classic or the Phoenix Open later this month.

Kapalua spokesman Kim Carpenter said Mickelson first notified tournament officials in September that he likely would not be playing. Among the reasons cited were spending time with his family, and that it would be difficult to travel a long distance with them.