The First Look: World Wide Technology Championship
8 Min Read
The first par 4 on the front nine is short, downwind and may be within reach for longer hitters. Those aiming to drive the green must carry a deep bunker on the right side of the fairway. A successful carry rewards with a kick toward the green. Multiple lay-up options exist off the tee, but the best line is to the left of the middle fairway bunker. From this vantage point, the entire green comes into view.
Written by Adam Stanley @Adam_Stanley
It’s not often a PGA TOUR event is played at a different golf course year-over-year.
Three of the four majors, of course, get the rotation treatment – along with the RBC Canadian Open and BMW Championship, to name a few others.
But this year’s World Wide Technology Championship is set for something totally new – and the designer is getting his TOUR debut, too.
This is the second playing of the World Wide Technology Championship this season, but the first at Tiger Woods' first design, El Cardonal Golf Course at Diamante. It’s the first time the PGA TOUR will host an event at a Woods-designed layout. This also is the TOUR's third stop in Mexico this season, after the Mexico Open at Vidanta, won by Tony Finau, was played in April.
El Cardonal opened in 2014, the first course completed by Woods’ TGR design firm. The firm has about a half a dozen other projects currently in development and completed four others between 2016 and 2021.
“I set up the golf strategy to make golfers think and make choices,” Woods said on the course website. “There are going to be different ways to play every hole. Angles of approach are going to be very important and will dictate the type of shots you should consider. I love this kind of golf.”
The first 16 years of this event took place in the Riviera Maya before trotting across the country to Los Cabos for this year.
“We are excited to build on our partnership with World Wide Technology as we continue to develop the growth of our sport in Mexico and across Latin America,” said Tyler Dennis, PGA TOUR EVP and President, at the time of the move. “The support of World Wide Technology, coupled with a championship golf course, will ensure that the PGA TOUR’s fall schedule will continue to deliver moments of drama and consequence.”
The drama of the FedExCup Fall will continue in Mexico this week – and some of the TOUR’s current best will get to take on a course designed by arguably the TOUR’s all-time best.
FIELD NOTES: Ludvig Åberg is set to tee it up on TOUR as he looks to solidify his spot inside the top 125 in the FedExCup Fall. He lost in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship and finished tied for 13th at the Shriners Children’s Open the next week after a tidy final-round 62. Åberg, who is 99th in the FedExCup, also continues to hunt the top-50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s currently No. 58 and will earn a Masters invitation if he is in the top 50 at year's end… Maverick McNealy returns to action on the PGA TOUR for the first time since the RBC Canadian Open. McNealy has three top-10 finishes this season and had shoulder surgery in June after tearing his left anterior sterno-clavicular in February. McNealy finished tied for 10th in last year's World Wide Technology Championship in Mayakoba. With the PGA TOUR returning to a calendar-year schedule, this fall's events represent the end of a season that began last fall… After breaking through for his first PGA TOUR win at the opening event of the FedExCup Fall, the Fortinet Championship, Sahith Theegala notched a T19 at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. Theegala, who was the 12th first-time winner of the season, has eight top-10 finishes this season and is back in action… Cameron Young returns after a 10-week break. Young last teed it up at the BMW Championship, where he finished tied for 15th… Four golfers are in the field for finishing in the top 10 in their previous TOUR starts: Robby Shelton, Kensei Hirata, and Ryo Ishikawa all finished in the top 10 at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP while Isaiah Salinda finished tied for seventh at the Shriners Children's Open after Monday qualifying … Michael Block, who was the Cinderella story of the PGA Championship after his final-round ace and nifty up-and-down to secure a spot in the 2024 PGA, will tee it up for the sixth time on TOUR this season. His T15 at the PGA was the highest by a club professional since 1986. He got a spot in the World Wide Technology Championship by winning the Southern California PGA's Match Play Championship.
|Highest Ranked Players in the Field
|Official World Golf Ranking
|16. Cameron Young
|T18. Lucas Glover
|29. Sahith Theegala
|T29. Emiliano Grillo
|32. Lucas Glover
|31. Sahith Theegala
|34. Emiliano Grillo
|32. Chris Kirk
|49. Chris Kirk
|35. Andrew Putnam
|58. Ludvig Åberg
|37. Adam Svensson
|59. Adam Svensson
|42. Cameron Young
|60. Andrew Putnam
|51. Beau Hossler
|62. K.H. Lee
|52. Taylor Montgomery
|63. Lucas Herbert
|53. Nick Hardy
SPONSOR EXEMPTIONS: Celebrated college star Chris Gotterup is in the field. Gotterup, the 2022 NCAA Player of the Year at Oklahoma, earned his PGA TOUR card via finished 23rd on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List this season. He has made the cut in 10 of 13 PGA TOUR starts, including two top-10s. He led the Korn Ferry Tour in Driving Distance this season… A foursome of Mexicans are teeing it up in their home country, ncluding Sebastian Vazquez, Jose Cristobal Islas, Isidro Benitez and former TOUR member Roberto Diaz, who notched two top-10s on the Korn Ferry Tour this season… Chase Johnson has nabbed his second TOUR start of the season. Johnson won THE JOHN SHIPPEN to earn a spot in the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he made the cut. Johnson has long pointed to Tiger Woods as an idol and has had a breakthrough 2023 campaign on the Advocates Professional Golf Association with three wins and two runner-up finishes. He earned a spot in Mexico thanks to his September APGA Farmers Insurance Fall Series win at Cincinnati… This will mark Preston Summerhays’ fourth TOUR start this season including the U.S. Open. Summerhays, who played on Team USA’s Palmer Cup team in April, is a junior at Arizona State University. He made the cut at the recent Fortinet Championship (T56) and led the field in Driving Distance (326.8 yards)… Other sponsor invites include Ryan Gerard (who earned Special Temporary Membership on the PGA TOUR earlier this year), veteran Chris Naegel, and TOUR winners Camilo Villegas and Charley Hoffman
1) PLENTY TO PLAY FOR
There are a handful of golfers competing this week who finished inside the top 50 in the FedExCup standings, including Lucas Glover, who won back-to-back starts in August. Their status and spots in next year's Signature Events is secure. But those fighting for spots in the top 125 and The Next 10 have plenty to play for with only three weeks remaining on the PGA TOUR schedule. The top 125 in the FedExCup Fall standings after the conclusion of The RSM Classic on Nov. 19 will retain full status for next season (and earn a spot in THE PLAYERS), while Nos. 51-60 will earn spots in two West Coast Signature Events (The Genesis Invitational and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am).
2) FEDEXCUP FALL WINDING DOWN
Including this week's World Wide Technology Championship, there are just three events left in the 2022-23 season. The TOUR heads to Bermuda next week and closes out the year with The RSM Classic one week later.
3) NEW COURSE, NEW APPROACH
The tournament scoring record at the World Wide Technology Championship was set (and then tied) the last two times the tournament took place. But with the TOUR heading to a new venue this week, what will that mean for the winning total? While the fairways and greens are massive, the wind also is set to swirl. There’s 132 golfers set to take on the Tiger Woods design, and it’ll be an exciting week to see how the best navigate their way around.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
COURSE: El Cardonal at Diamante, par 72, 7,452 yards. The Tiger Woods design – the first by Woods to host a PGA TOUR event – is located on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas. There is a dramatic 240-foot drop in elevation from the 17th tee to the third fairway – which means the topography will be demanding for players and caddies. Expect the turf to play firm and fast, as the area receives a mere six inches of rain each year. The wind will be a big factor as well, but the fairways are very wide while the greens are gigantic. More information can be found here – but the greens average 8,300 square feet, which is about 23 percent larger than the greens at Marco Simone G&CC, which hosted the Ryder Cup this year.
72-HOLE RECORD: 261, Viktor Hovland (2021), Russell Henley (2022)
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Roland Thatcher (3rd round, 2008).
LAST TIME: It was a cruise to the finish for Russell Henley despite some hard-charging followers on Sunday at the 2022 World Wide Technology Championship. Henley, who had a six-shot lead through 54 holes, had that lead trimmed to just three shots when he missed a five-footer for par early in his final round. He responded, however, with three straight birdies and no one got closer than four shots by the time the tournament was wrapped up. Henley’s win in Mexico was his fourth on TOUR, but the first since the Houston Open five years prior. It was a big moment for Henley, who had failed to convert 54-hole leads the last five times he had the opportunity. Brian Harmon finished second after a final-round 66. Five golfers finished a shot further back and tied for third including Scottie Scheffler, whose Sunday 9-under 62 was tied for the low round of the week. Viktor Hovland finished tied for 10th as he was looking to win the World Wide Technology Championship for the third straight year.
HOW TO FOLLOW:
Television: Thursday-Saturday, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. ET. Sunday, 3 – 6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)