Tiger and friends tee up for Target World Challenge
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2006 Target World Challenge | Preview | 14 Dec 2006
The final event of the year, involving many of the leading lights of world golf that is, will be played out at the Sherwood Country Club in California and while every player in the field would enjoy walking away with the Target World Challenge title and the huge first prize of US$1.35 million, there is still an air of holiday atmosphere about the event.
To have been invited to play the event a player needs to have had a hugely successful season and to a large extent the first prize is hardly likely to make or break a winner or loser. As a charity event it has a place in the game but as to whether this is an event where there is a huge amount of prestige riding on the outcome, well then I think there is a question mark and some years to go before it can be taken seriously. Obviously the bragging rights to take into next season would be nice however and to a large extent the winning of the tournament is not the only reason for participation.
The field assembled is a perhaps a reflection of the size of the purse but more realistically on the fact that it is Tiger’s event. As was the case in the era of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, when either asked a favour, very few declined and the same could now be said of Tiger Woods and his influence on the game and its players. Those assembled in California this week owe Woods a collective debt given the impetus he has applied to the game since his arrival of the professional scene ten years ago and it might just be that some see this as a way of helping restore the ledger in that regard and to add a little pocket money for the Christmas presents.
Oh and the US$165,000 or so for just turning up is not a bad incentive either.
Heading the field is two time winner, Tiger himself, but perhaps reflecting the growing internationalisation of the game in recent years, ten of the sixteen man field are non-American.
Woods has played well of late (doesn’t he always) with six wins, two runner up placings and a first round loss at the World Match Play in his last nine starts. He will be keen to play well this week as this event was very dear to his father’s heart. Earl Woods passed away earlier this year but it was his mission to build the event to what it has now become.
Luke Donald is the defending champion, beating Darren Clarke twelve months ago and while Clarke was a late withdrawal, Padraig Harrington and Michael Campbell, who shared third position last year, are both in the field.
Three weeks ago Harrington defeated Woods in Japan and, as the winner in 2002 of this event and runner up to Tiger in 2004 and third last year, he has the background to go on with his current form which included a third placing at the Nedbank Challenge at his last start.
Donald has been simply brilliant since August recording seven top tens in his last eight appearances and if he was to go and win again it would be no surprise. He is a player likely to win a major in the foreseeable future.
Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy were mediocre at the Australian PGA Championship at Hyatt Regency Coolum last week and they have covered some miles in a hurry to get to the event. Both have had breakthrough years and although it is difficult to see either contending this week it has been mission accomplished to a large extent in 2006.
Davis Love is a two time winner of the event and might just be one for slightly longer odds but although he played well late in the season he has not played, competitively at least, for nearly a month and that might count against him when up against some more tournament ready campaigners in this field.
The event is being played at the Jack Nicklaus designed Sherwood Country Club layout in Thousand Oaks, California.