Host and Defending Champion Tiger Woods Headlines Sweet Sixteen For Targer World Challenge Presented by Countrywide
September 24, 2007
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2007) - The amount of world-class players frequently returning for the Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide makes for a strong case that World No. 1 Tiger Woods is the host with the most. Perhaps competitors' only regret about Woods' hospitality is that he is also the host with the most championships (three) in his event. Similar to that of the PGA TOUR season, a spectacular 16-player field will be aiming for Woods' trophy at the ninth-annual Target World Challenge, a PGA TOUR co-sponsored event held at Sherwood Country Club, Dec. 12-16. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Today's announced field represents seven countries and includes three of this year's four major champions - Woods (PGA Championship), Zach Johnson (Masters) and Padraig Harrington (British Open) - as well as Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Rory Sabbatini, K.J. Choi, Vijay Singh, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Niclas Fasth, Paul Casey, Mark Calcavecchia, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.
The Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide field, which accounts for 175 PGA TOUR titles, will compete for shares of a $5.75 million purse. First prize is $1.35 million - more than any major and second only to THE PLAYERS Championship on this year's PGA TOUR - and no golfer leaves with less than $170,000.
Tournament week begins with a Pro-Am on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and the four-day tournament begins Thursday, Dec. 13, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 16.
This year's roster features four past Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide champions - Woods (2001, 2004, 2006), Love III (2000, 2003), Donald (2005) and Harrington (2002) - and five golfers who are new to the tournament - Stricker, Sabbatini, Rose, Johnson and Fasth.
The field, which includes 13 of the world's top 22 golfers, is selected from the top 11 players (who accept invitations) from the Official World Golf Ranking and four special exemption players chosen by the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Players who qualified based on their Official World Golf Ranking as of Sept. 17 are Furyk (No. 3 in the world), Stricker (5), Harrington (7), Sabbatini (9), Choi (10), Singh (12), Rose (13), Stenson (14), Johnson (15), Donald (16), and Fasth (21). Casey, Calcavecchia, Love III and Couples received special exemptions to complete the 16-player field.
"I truly appreciate the support of my fellow golfers and friends," Woods said. "The player and fan support is the reason why this event is the success that it has become as we enter our ninth year. I take great pride in having an opportunity to play in Southern California and raise funds for kids of my foundation."
Last year, Southern California native Woods shot a final-round 6-under par 66 to finish at 16-under 272 and win his third Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide by a tournament-record four strokes. Woods, the Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide's all-time money leader with $5,597,500, donated his $1.35 million winner's share to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Woods recently won the inaugural PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, and the golf record $10 million bonus that comes with it, after capturing his 60th and 61st PGA TOUR titles (he has a PGA TOUR-leading seven titles in 2007) at the BMW Championship and THE TOUR Championship, the last two Playoff events. In August, he won his 13th career major championship at the PGA Championship. His major win total is second to Jack Nicklaus' 18.
Furyk, a 13-time PGA TOUR winner, is enjoying another steady and successful season, highlighted by his victory and successful title defense at the Canadian Open. He has seven top-5 finishes in 2007, including runner-up to Cabrera at the U.S. Open. Furyk has participated on the United States' last five Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.
Stricker has followed up his 2006, in which he was named PGA TOUR Comeback Player of the Year, with a career year that has vaulted him to a career-best No. 5 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He won his first PGA TOUR title in six years at the TOUR's inaugural Playoff event, The Barclays, and was a presence throughout the Playoffs. He finished third at the BMW Championship, tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship and second in the Playoff standings.
Harrington, the top-ranked European in the world, 2006 European Tour Order of Merit winner and 2007 Order of Merit leader, will play in his seventh consecutive Target World Challenge in December. He is third on the event's all-time money list. He won his first major, and third PGA TOUR title, at the 2007 British Open and is one of two people to beat Woods in a playoff. He birdied the second playoff hole to beat Woods at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan in November.
Sabbatini has been a force to be reckoned with on this year's PGA TOUR. He has posted six top-3 finishes, including a win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and a tie for second at the Masters. He placed in the PGA TOUR Playoff standings for the FedExCup, is currently sixth on the PGA TOUR money list.
Choi, Asia's top-rated golfer, has also enjoyed a breakout year, keeping good company with his pair of victories in 2007 - Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament and the inaugural AT&T National, hosted by Woods. Choi is fifth on the money list and placed fifth in the PGA TOUR Playoff standings, which was aided by his runner-up finish to Stricker at The Barclays. In his only previous Target World Challenge appearance, Choi finished sixth in 2003.
Singh has made six previous appearances in the Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide, placing second in 2001 and third in 1999. He is a double-winner on the 2007 PGA TOUR, capturing the Mercedes-Benz Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and has run his PGA TOUR victory mark to 31 (tied for 15th on the all-time PGA TOUR win list).
Also fueled by a career year, Rose, England's No. 1 golfer whose enormous potential was first realized when he tied for fourth at the 1998 British Open as a 17-year-old amateur, has lifted his game to a point where he is a weekly contender on the PGA TOUR. He has registered seven top-10s, highlighted by a second place (to Woods) at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Stenson finished fourth in his Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide debut last year, holding a lead after the first round. He owns seven international victories and claimed his first PGA TOUR victory this year at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships. He excelled in Ryder Cup play for Europe last year and is one of the world's fast-rising stars.
Johnson is one of five double winners on the PGA TOUR this year. He used discipline, patience and precision to win his first major at the Masters, playing the par-5 holes in 11-under par and making three birdies in a four-hole stretch over Sunday's back nine. The Iowan later won the AT&T Classic and tied for second at THE TOUR Championship in continuing his career year. He ranks eighth on the 2007 PGA TOUR money list.
Donald, a two-time PGA TOUR winner, will make his third consecutive Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide appearance. His 2005 title in the event came after shooting a final-round 8-under par 64 in rallying from a six-shot deficit. He has five top-10 finishes this year, including seconds at the Sony Open in Hawaii and the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide newcomer Fasth is on track to have his highest European Tour Order of Merit finish in his career - he was ranked No. 5 coming into last weekend's Quinn Direct British Masters - and he won his sixth European Tour title at June's BMW International Open.
Casey tied for fifth in his Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide debut last year. The 2006 European Tour Player of the Year and Order of Merit runner-up won the 2006 HSBC World Match Play Championship by the largest margin in the event's history, besting Shaun Micheel by a 10-and-8 score, as part of his career year. The Englishman went unbeaten in 2006 Ryder Cup play for Europe and has eight European Tour victories since turning pro in 2000.
Calcavecchia, whose one past Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide appearance came in 2001, won his 13th PGA TOUR title at the PODS Championship thanks to a third-round, course-record 9-under par 62 at Florida's Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club. He also tied for second at THE TOUR Championship this month and placed fourth at The Barclays among five top-5 finishes this year. He ranks 13th on the 2007 PGA TOUR money list.
Besides Woods, Love III is the only other multiple winner of the Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide and the only other golfer to compete in every event. He is the tournament's No. 2 all-time money leader. In 2003, his third-round 63 trumped Woods' final-round 65. In 2000, he shot 67-64 in the first two rounds and a final-round 64. Among this year's field, Love is third in PGA TOUR victories (19). The 1997 PGA Champion holds three top-6s on Tour in 2007.
Couples, the 1992 Masters champion and 15-time PGA TOUR winner (fourth most in this year's field), has long been a fan favorite and an owner of one of golf's sweetest swings. He has appeared in six previous Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide tournaments this decade. Couples' 2007 has been beset by injury.
Fans can conveniently order tickets through the tournament website, www.targetworldchallenge.com, or by phone at 1-800-594-TIXX. The best bargain for one's buck is a Weekly Gallery Badge (a $170 value), which can be purchased for $80. The Weekly Gallery Badge is a grounds-only credential for the entire tournament week (Wednesday-Sunday).
Daily Gallery Passes, which are grounds-only passes for individual days, can be purchased for any single day. They are $30 per day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and $40 per day on Saturday and Sunday. Individual and group Executive Club Memberships, which include skybox seating and hospitality, are also available.
Daily Youth Tickets (ages 13-17) are $10 per day and can be purchased at the gate only. Children 12 and under are admitted free if accompanied by a paid adult (limit two children per paid adult). All tickets are subject to space availability. General admission parking is free and complimentary pairings guides are available daily on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Sherwood Country Club course (7,064 yards, par-72), which opened 18 years ago, is again expected to provide a stern test for golf's top players. Rated as one of the best golf courses in the world, Sherwood Country club features 1,800 mature oak trees and lush landscaping including waterfalls, jasmine and rose bushes.
Tournament proceeds will benefit programs of the Tiger Woods Foundation, including the Tiger Woods Learning Center and the Start Something program. The Tiger Woods Learning Center is a 14-acre, youth-education facility that represents the vision of Tiger Woods and his goal to provide youth from diverse backgrounds an interactive enrichment program that will improve individual aptitude in reading, math, science and technology. As a result, youth will develop personal accountability, independence and resilience leading to greater knowledge of career options and an increase in college enrollment. For more information, please visit www.twlc.org.
Start Something is a free program for youth 8-17 that addresses three priorities: character education, volunteer service and career exploration. Through participation in Start Something, youth define a specific personal goal and develop an action plan to achieve it while giving back to their community and exploring careers that fit within their areas of interest. More than 4.5 million youths across the country have enrolled in the program since the program's launch in 2000. Teachers and youth group leaders can obtain the program for use with groups by visiting www.tigerwoodsfoundation.org/startsomething or by calling 1-866-916-GOAL. High school students can also visit the site or call the 866 number to order or download the High School Self-Study Guide. All curriculum materials are available in both English and Spanish.
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About Countrywide Financial Corporation
Founded in 1969, Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC) - America's #1 home loan lender - (as ranked for 2006 by Inside Mortgage Finance, Feb. 2, 2007, Copyright 2007), is a member of the S&P 500 and Fortune 500. Countrywide is a diversified financial services firm primarily focused on real estate finance and related activities. Through its family of companies, Countrywide provides mortgage banking, capital markets, global operations and insurance, in domestic and international markets. The company is headquartered in Calabasas, California. For more information about the company, visit Countrywide's Web site at www.countrywide.com.
Companies joining Target and Countrywide as supporting sponsors include Williams, an organization that primarily finds, produces, gathers, processes and transports natural gas, and Dole Food Company, the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh-cut flowers and a growing line of packaged foods.