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Tiger’s Tourney: The (now, Northwestern Mutual) World Challenge Preview
- Updated: November 27, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, 11/27/12
Well, I’m sure most all of you have seen the World Challenge – it is even on Sportscenter highlights. It’s Tiger’s Event. Come on. Okay, I understand. When the Thanksgiving Day turkeys hit the tables, typically the golf clubs hit the closets and the Golf Digests either hit the shelves or in some tragic cases – the recycling bins. But don’t lose that golf itch. There is some more great golf to watch!
What is the World Challenge?
Known from 2008-2011 as the Chevron World Challenge, it is now simply the World Challenge – or Tiger’s event. The 2012 edition is the 13th playing of the World Challenge. This year the sponsor carousel moves to Northwestern Mutual, with many of the proceeds benefitting the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Historically, the tournament has sported a 16-man field composed of the defending champion of the event, the top 11 players in the world and 4 sponsors exemptions selected by the TWF (…the Tiger Woods Foundation). In 2008, a change was made to the field hosting 18 players consisting of the most recent winners of the four major PGA tournaments, the top eleven available players from the Official World Golf Ranking, the defending champion, and two special exemption players selected by the TWF.
Although the event is recognized as an unofficial money event by the PGA Tour, it still presents a purse of over $5 million and offers Official World Golf Ranking points to players – something that has been under some scrutiny over the years. (We all remember Tiger winning and then heading to the Fruit Roll-Up Open last year. The complaints are indeed legitimate, right?)
A Little History
Two years ago, McDowell finished off his storybook 2010 season by winning the head-to head showdown against Tiger. Remember his clutch putting on the last few holes to throw some Tiger-clutchness back in Tiger’s face?
Last season, Tiger got back in the winning circle. Golf fans got giddy watching him climb back on the proverbial horse to continue his run at Jack’s many records. Tiger has 5 wins in the World Challenge.
Furyk has won it, Luke has won it and Davis has won it.
This tournament is loaded every year. The only three glaring absentees are Rory McIlroy (busy from winning in Dubai), Lee Westwood (who I think is playing in the Nedbank or in Thailand or something), and pro golfer Phil Mickelson (‘pro golfer’ is me poking some fun at his self-introduction in his Embrel commercial).
The field features all of the first namers - Tiger, Bubba, Rickie, Webb; all of the top ranked Americans - Stricker, Snedeker, Mahan, Watney, Bradley, Kuchar, Johnson, Dufner, Furyk and Van Pelt; and even a couple European Ryder Cup members - McDowell and Poulter. I guess Jason Day is the odd ball of the bunch.
In the first season, the tournament was held in Scottsdale, Arizona at Grayhawk Golf Club. Since then, the host club has been Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. It is 7,052 yard design, cut through the rolling forests of California featuring a gorgeously manicured course with many protected areas including an Oak Savannah. Who doesn’t like Oak Savannahs?
The course record is held by Mr. Woods himself with a score of 62.
Picking the winner in this event is really a crapshoot. Toss some noodles at the wall and see what sticks, I guess.
The tournament offers so many good players with no bearing on who is truly playing well and who isn’t. We haven’t seen PGA Tour golf in 2 months. The fall series is interesting and all, but the FedEx Cup finished in September. I honestly, don’t know who’s even playing great golf right now.
Jason Dufner: Hard to count out Tiger, but I like Jason. He played well in the Ryder Cup. He’s a likable guy who put together a great 2012 season, often overshadowed by the seasons of Rory, Tiger and Webb (and probably rightfully so). We’ve talked a lot about Jason this season, let’s see him win it.
This may be the only event where I am going to pick the player to finish in last place. This event offers no cut line and even the player who finishes in last place will cash a check of $120,000. Four rounds at Sherwood CC and a guarantee of $120,000? Sign me up.
But who’s going to cash the last place check?
Jason Day: I actually like Day a lot too. He’s a great player, but I am making this pick for a few different reasons.
1. He hasn’t played in a 4 round event since the McGladrey Classic (October 21)
2. He’s the only Aussie in the field. The odd ball of the group.
3. I picked a Jason to win, let’s pick a Jason to lose.
Signing off from the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California,
(I only wish I was in California.)