Sergio Garica of Spain has joined other big names in announcing his absence from this year’s renewal of the HSBC World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth, which runs from September 14-17 at the famous Surrey club. The event offers golf’s biggest first prize of £1 million, and is one of the most presitigious events of the season – the list of past champions reads like a who’s who of golf from the last 40 years.

Garcia (pictured) stressed the need to keep himself fresh for the forthcoming Ryder Cup clash with the USA in Ireland, which begins a week after the HSBC World Matchplay Championship. US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy has also turned down his invitation and so has Open runner-up Chris DiMarco. Meanwhile, Masters champion Phil Mickelson will also be an absentee due to the tournament clashing with his sister’s wedding in the USA.

“This tournament at Firestone is my sixth week out of seven,” Garcia said on Wednesday.

“I’ve got next week off, but then I go to Switzerland. If I played at Wentworth as well, then the Ryder Cup, then the American Express, it would be four in a row and I very rarely do that. I’m mindful of keeping myself fresh for the Ryder Cup.”

The great news for the organisers of the event is that world number one Tiger Woods has agreed to play for the first time since 1998, when the American lost to his compatriot and close friend Mark O’Meara in the final. Other high profile names to have accepted their invitations are defending champion Michael Campbell (NZ), Colin Montgomerie (Sco), Luke Donald (Eng), David Howell (Eng) and Jim Furyk (USA).

Adam Scott (Aus) and Shaun Micheel (USA) are still deciding whether or not to compete, while Robert Karlsson (Swe) and Paul Casey (Eng) are ahead in the race to secure the two places from the European Order Of Merit standings.