Tiger's main event: World Challenge to continue in California

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 2, 2013 - 11:27 PM
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The World Challenge that Tiger Woods has hosted every holiday season since 1999 means so much to him that he spent what was believed to be about $4 million of his own money to help cover operating costs in a year it did not have a full title sponsor.

The future of the event is no longer in doubt. The World Challenge is back on the schedule this year.

"There wasn't a doubt whether we could stage it. The question was whether we could get the necessary corporate support," said Greg McLaughlin, the president of the Tiger Woods Foundation who also runs his tournaments. "We're happy that we have a lot of support for the event that we've been able to generate the last few months."

The tournament is scheduled for Dec. 5-8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where it has been since 2001. Graeme McDowell is the defending champion.

McLaughlin said he was not ready to announce the corporate support. Since it began, the World Challenge has raised more than $25 million for college-access programs through the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., and the Earl Woods Scholarship program.

One of the questions about the World Challenge was how it would fit in when the PGA Tour goes to a wraparound season in October. There will be six tournaments that count toward the FedEx Cup in the fall, with the last official event in 2013 in Mexico on Nov. 17. The World Challenge would follow a two-week break, and then the 2014 portion of the schedule begins three weeks later in Kapalua.

The World Challenge only offers world ranking points, not to mention a healthy holiday bonus. Even with a reduced purse without a title sponsor, McDowell made $1 million and last place in the 18-man field paid $120,000.

McLaughlin believes the appeal is the reduced field and low-key atmosphere. Along with the tournament host, the World Challenge typically attracts Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. And with the European Tour ending the same week as the PGA Tour, there's a chance of getting additional players before they take their long winter's nap.

"This is our 15th year, and it's very important to Tiger," McLaughlin said. "For our foundation, it's the first event we ever did. It would be hard to ever imagine not doing the event. I've had so many people — players, media — stop me throughout the year and say, 'Are you doing the event again?'"

The World Challenge is one of three tournaments this year that benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. The others are the AT&T National, which has one more year on its contract, and the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. The foundation has taken over operations of that event from IMG.

___

MAJOR SPIETH: Jordan Spieth is in position where he no longer has to worry about his spot on the leaderboard costing him money. The 19-year-old from Texas already has gone over $1.1 million for the year, meaning he has locked up his PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season. The only way he can become a full member before October is to win a tournament, which is the only way to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Turns out money still matters if he wants to play in the PGA Championship.

The top 70 in "PGA Points" make it to the final major of the year. Points are based on PGA Tour earnings from the Bridgestone Invitational last year through the Canadian Open, which is played July 25-28. Spieth has exemptions into three of the next four tournaments through Canada.

The PGA of America makes no distinction on its points list who is a member. It's strictly money. And with his sixth-place finish last week worth $234,000, Spieth moved up to No. 77 in the standings. Even if he doesn't crack the top 70, the PGA Championship uses the points list to fill out its 156-man field. Last year, seven additional players got into the field off the points list.

The PGA Championship could always offer him an invitation. For a teenager who started the year without any status on any tour, Spieth already has five top-10 finishes on tour and would be equivalent of No. 55 on the PGA Tour money list. That might be more worthy than an international player who sneaks in through top 100 in the world ranking.

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FALDO SERIES: Nick Faldo's junior golf program is coming to America.

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