Tiger Woods (pictured) is the most likely winner of the World Challenge, an event he organises and one that benefits the charities that are part of his Foundation. This is a week in which Woods gives something back to the game and charities for underprivileged youths.
The former world number one will be pleased with the quality of the opposition for an event with a limited field of just eighteen players. The only member of the US Ryder Cup team not playing this week is Phil Mickelson. That player is now on his off-season break and will be focusing on the start of next year and preparing for the US Masters in April.
Mickelson has won at Augusta three times in his career and his tally would have been four wins but for one poor hole in the final round in 2012. Woods no doubt would have been delighted if all his Ryder Cup team mates played this week but in any case for so many to appear in a charity event is still cause for some pride for Tiger.
There are only three non-Americans in this week’s field but each of those is an interesting contender. Ian Poulter may receive a special reception form the US galleries as he more than any other player exemplified the spirit of the Europeans at the Ryder Cup.
Graeme McDowell was also part of that winning side but he is also known for winning the US Open in 2010. It is a statistical anomaly that two of the last three winners of the US Open are from Northern Ireland. Rory McIlroy will win this major again to add to the tally.
The population of that part of the United Kingdom is just 1,789,000 so to produce two US Open champions in such a short space of time is remarkable. The country must be the most successful in US Open history in terms of wins per head of population.
Jason Day is also playing in this week’s World Challenge. The Australian player finished second in two major championships in 2011 and moved inside the top 10 in the world rankings. There has been a dip in form since then but Day showed signs of returning to his best form during the Fall Series on the US Tour.
The Sherwood Country Club that is the regular host of this event is short by modern standards at just over 7000 yards. There is a premium on accuracy over distance but potential winners must have a decent week on the greens. Woods has won his own event five teams, including last year when he beat Zach Johnson by one shot.