By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Whether Tiger Woods wins this week's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge or not, Sunday will be a bittersweet day for him.
After 14 years, his annual limited-field event is moving from Sherwood Country Club near where he grew up in Southern California to Isleworth Golf & Country Club near Orlando.
"It is going to be emotional," Woods said Wednesday. "Sherwood, the board here, all the volunteers that come out and support us in sunshine or rain, wind, cold or perfect sunny So Cal days. They come out to support our event and have made this event as special as it has been.
"Most golf tournaments don't stay at one golf course for that long. I foresee certainly an emotional Sunday for sure."
It's also a sign of the times.
After going without a title sponsor in 2012, Northwestern Mutual signed a one-year deal for this year's tournament.
Going forward, the Tavistock Group will be part of the picture -- Woods has been a longtime friend of its Joe Lewis.
Throw in a packed golf calendar and the decision was all but made for the tournament's host.
"It's harder to get good players to play, quite frankly," Woods said. "And sponsorship dollars are certainly not exactly easy to come by in these economic times. So it made sense for us to move.
"It was certainly not an easy decision. But there are a lot of players that are based there in Florida. It will be a little easier for the guys to make a trek out instead of coming all the way out here, to stay right there in Florida."
As for Woods, this will be his final start of 2013.
While he won five times and was named Player of the Year on the PGA TOUR, he failed to win a major championship for a fifth straight season.
"I certainly wish I could have played a little better in major championships," Woods admitted. "I was there at the Masters and there at the British certainly with a chance, but just didn't get it done. The other two I just didn't play well. But winning THE PLAYERS Championship and then obviously four other events, I think it's a pretty good year.
"I feel like I've improved this year than I did over the previous year. I'm very pleased at the overall year."
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Looks like Jason Dufner will have a wee bit of a conflict when he tees off in the third round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.
That's because his third-ranked Auburn Tigers battle No. 5 Missouri for the SEC title on Saturday -- and the kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. The third round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is scheduled to end at 6 p.m. ET.
In fact, Dufner even took to Twitter in an attempt to resolve his dilemma.
Dear Mr @TigerWoods I petition the event this week to play 36 holes Thurs and Friday,so I can watch my beloved Auburn play for SEC champ thx— Jason Dufner (@JasonDufner) December 2, 2013
About three hours later, Woods tweeted: @Jason Dufner Petition denied.
Of course, Woods, who hosts the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, also has a team playing for a conference championship on Saturday. But his Stanford Cardinal, ranked seventh, plays No. 11 Arizona State at 7:45 p.m. ET so he'll have plenty of time to get in front of the TV.
Dufner isn't the only War Eagle product on TOUR -- Will Claxton, Lee Williams and Gary Christian also went to Auburn but they control their own schedules this weekend. Ditto for Alex Aragon, who is the other former Stanford golfer on TOUR.
There are nine former Arizona State golfers on TOUR -- Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Billy Mayfair, Ricky Barnes, Paul Casey, Chez Reavie, Joey Snyder III, Matt Jones and Benjamin Alvarado. None are playing at Sherwood this year.
Perez even had a solution for Dufner, the reigning PGA champ: @JasonDufner @TigerWoods. You gotta play worse Duf during the year so you have time off like me to watch all the good stuff
Meanwhile, surprising Duke faces an uphill battle in its Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against undefeated and top-ranked Florida State at 8 p.m. ET. Duke grads Joe Ogilvie, Kevin Streelman and Wes Roach represent the Blue Devils on TOUR while Jonas Blixt and George McNeill represent the Seminoles.
Nick Watney and Kevin Sutherland will have a vested interest in No. 23 Fresno State's game with Utah State at 10 p.m. ET to decide the Mountain West Conference title, as well. Both played for the Bulldogs.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
As you might expect from a tournament hosted by the game's No. 1 player, Tiger Woods, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge features an star-studded cast.
There are 18 players competing at Sherwood Country Club this week in the 15th renewal of the event. Among the past champions in the field are five-time champion Tiger Woods and two-time winner Graeme McDowell, who defends his title.
Want to watch? Competition will be live on the Golf Channel from 3-6 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and 3-6 p.m. ET on NBC on Saturday and Sunday.
In the meantime, here's a look at the the field by the numbers:
>>> 10 of the top 20 players in the 2013 FedExCup standings
>>> Ten of the 18 competitors in this week’s field have at least one major championship title to their resume.
>>> 10 of the 12 players from the 2013 U.S. Presidents Cup Team
>>> 2013 PGA TOUR Player of the Year Tiger Woods
>>> 2013 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth
>>> 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner
>>> Rory McIlroy, winner of last week’s Emirates Australian Open, his first title of 2013
The complete field features: Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, McDowell, McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson, Spieth, Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood and Woods.
PGATOUR.COM is unveiling its top 10 moments of the 2013 season. The videos will be introduced on weekdays for the last two weeks of November. Check back each day for our favorites from the 2013 PGA TOUR Season.
|Top 10 Moments of the 2013 PGA TOUR Season|
||Nov. 18||Garcia hits shot from a tree at Arnold Palmer Invitational|
||Nov. 19||Reed escapes from the trees to win Wyndham Championship|
||Nov. 20||Woods dominates elite field at Bridgestone Invitational|
||Nov. 21||Dufner ties majors scoring record, wins PGA Championship|
||Nov. 22||Rose's historic approach on No. 18 at Merion to secure U.S. Open|
||Nov. 25||Spieth's incredible bunker shot during John Deere playoff|
||Nov. 26||Stenson wins the FedExCup|
||Nov. 27||Furyk shoots 59 in second round of BMW Championship|
||Nov. 28||Mickelson cards final-round 66 to win The Open Championship|
||Nov. 29||Scott's putt to force a playoff at The Masters|
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods is headed from one old home to another.
The world No. 1 announced Friday the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge is moving to Isleworth Golf & Country Club near Orlando next year. It had been played at Sherwood Country Club outside Los Angeles 13 of the last 14 years.
"We have a longstanding relationship with Tavistock Group and my friend, Joe Lewis, and I am thrilled to see it grow in support of our Foundations," said Woods, a southern California native who called Isleworth home from 1996 until 2011 when he moved to South Florida. "We've enjoyed 15 amazing years in southern California, which helped us launch our flagship Tiger Woods Learning Center. It serves as a lasting tribute to the local fans that have supported us year after year. I’m looking forward to this next phase of the World Challenge and what it can bring to Florida."
Isleworth is owned by the Tavistock Group and previously played host to the Tavistock Cup, an annual team event in March held at Isleworth or Lake Nona Golf & Country Club that comes to an end after a 10-year run.
Since its inception, the World Challenge has raised more than $25 million for Woods' foundation. Beginning next year, proceeds will be shared with the Tavistock Foundation.
"We have had 10 great years hosting our own Tavistock Cup golf tournament, and we believe this new partnership with the World Challenge will allow us to expand our presence and investment in the game," said Andy Odenbach, vice president of Sports Ventures at Tavistock Group. "The World Challenge has become a marquee golf tournament. We are honored to build on its strong history and host the players, sponsors and fans at Isleworth Golf & Country Club."
This year's World Challenge takes place Dec. 2-8 and the 18-man field includes Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson.
Though not an official PGA TOUR event, Official World Golf Ranking points are awarded. Woods is a five-time winner of the tournament.
"We've been looking for ways to expand our relationship with Tavistock and this is a perfect fit," said Tiger Woods Foundation President and CEO Greg McLaughlin. "The golf season has evolved significantly since our first tournament in 1999. We've been evaluating the best path forward to continue this work. We are excited to partner with Tavistock Group and honored to bring our tournament to Isleworth."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Jordan Spieth will replace Brandt Snedeker in next month's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club.
Snedeker is still nursing a bruised tibia and strained ACL in his left knee after falling off a Segway at a corporate outing two weeks ago in China.
It will be Spieth's first appearance in the limited, 18-man field, which includes among others, tournament host Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell and Jason Dufner.
Spieth earned Rookie of the Year honors on the PGA TOUR this past season after a win, three runner-up finishes and six other top 10s. He finished eighth in FedExCup points and was a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup.
Remember this photo of Tiger Woods, Jason Dufner and Phil Mickelson at The Presidents Cup?
The iconic image from PGA TOUR staff photographer Chris Condon is up for a People's Choice Award in the Photo District News' "The Shot Sports Photography Contest."
You can vote for the photo here.
What did you think of the photo? Share your thoughts below.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
When Greg Norman tweeted congratulations and that being No. 1 in the world was next on the horizon for fellow Aussie Adam Scott, it could have been chalked up as non-objective hyperbole.
Except there's actually some truth to it.
Scott, who has never been within three points of top-ranked Tiger Woods (at least whenever Woods has been No. 1), is now 2.56 behind Woods after his victory at the Australian Masters this past weekend.
Should Scott win this week's ISPS HANDA World Cup at Royal Melbourne and next week's Australian Open at Royal Sydney, however, the Aussie could go into 2014 with less than a point separating he and Woods. Woods, meanwhile, has just one start left on his schedule this year -- his Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in early December.
"That's like the wild childhood dream," Scott said of the possibility of passing Woods, who as of Monday has 115 more total points on the two-year sliding scale. "For so long, No. 1 was so far from being attainable for me. I sat there and watched Tiger Woods be double the points ahead of the second player in the world. It never really entered my mind, but I've never been closer now."
Scott has four worldwide wins this year, including the Masters, but his rise began in earnest following his crushing loss at the 2012 Open Championship.
After finishing second to Ernie Els there, Scott moved from 12th to sixth in the world. He hasn't been outside the top 10 since.
In his last 28 starts, Scott has 13 top-10 finishes, including five wins. That success can largely be traced to four changes: coach, putter, caddie and schedule.
Scott parted ways with Butch Harmon and hooked up with longtime friend (and brother-in-law) Brad Malone, switched to a long putter in 2011, hired Steve Williams full-time after Williams was fired by Woods that same year, and cut back on his globe-trotting schedule in order to focus on playing better in big events.
To that last point, over the last two years Scott has 41 worldwide starts to Woods' 39. In the last 12 majors, Scott has finished in the top 10 seven times. Four of those were finishes in the top three, including his first career victory in a major.
"I was frustrated and disappointed in my performance in big events for the most part of my career, and my coach and I identified that I really needed to change something, even change something drastically and not be afraid to do that and find a way that I can somewhat peak," Scott said this past September. "The past couple years, I've had a good balance."
And with it an opportunity to shift golf's balance of power.
In 1999, Doug Liman of "Swingers" and "Bourne Identity" fame was enlisted to direct a Tiger Woods commercial for Nike. The ad of course ended up being an impromptu juggling act by Woods and arguably his most memorable spot to this day.
Earlier this week, Woods' niece, Cheyenne, took to Instagram to recreate Tiger's juggling act.
Below is Woods' original ad:
By PGATOUR.COM Staff
Tiger Woods has hit some long drives in his career. But as prodigious pokes go, the ones he hit Tuesday morning in Istanbul were pretty special.
Woods is in Turkey to play in the Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism later this week. The city of Istanbul spans two continents and event promoters had an interesting idea to conjure up interest in the event.
So after traffic was shut down for about 20 minutes on one side of the Bosphorus Bridge -- a gravity-anchored suspension bridge that spans just under a mile and connects Asia with Europe -- Woods went out and hit a few cross-continental shots.
“I tell you what, I've never done that one before,” Woods said on the European Tour's website. “I've hit balls down airports before on runways but never down a bridge. The scary part was just getting off a plane having flown for 12 hours and having to hit driver down the narrowest fairway I've ever seen.
“The wind was coming off the left a little bit, all these cars were driving on the right, so if I lose any balls to the right, there's an international incident right there. So that was a little bit nerve-wracking but, trust me, every ball drew. But it was pretty cool – somebody was telling me I hit one 550 meters or something like that, which was not too bad.”