Phil Mickelson, who made his 2012 debut last week at the Humana Challenge, has decided to forego the first World Golf Championship of the year.

The gregarious left-hander will miss the Accenture World Match Play Championship – contested between the 22nd – 26th February at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain – for the second time in three years.

Mickelson traditionally struggles in the only match play tournament on the PGA Tour roster. He has never made it past the quarter-final stage, and lost 6 and 5 in the second round last year to Rickie Fowler.

This year, the tournament clashes with his children’s spring break, and Mickelson has decided to prioritise time with his family and go on holiday – hardly surprising, given his wife and mother’s recent battles with breast cancer.

The field – comprised, in theory, of the top 64 players in the world – will now be extended to account for the absence of Mickelson and Englishman Paul Casey, who injured himself in a Snowboarding accident during the holiday period.

Alexander Noren, the talented young Swede, currently occupies 65th position in the Official World Golf Rankings and is set to benefit from Mickelson’s absence. Others in with a chance to claim an unexpected place in the field include Sean O’Hair (67), who finished in a tie for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and Padraig Harrington (88), fresh off his first top ten of the season last week at the Volvo Golf Champions.