The offseason is no time to step away from golf for the 18 pros participating in the 2012 World Challenge, the annual tournament benefitting the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Last year, Woods himself won the tournament, beating Zach Johnson by one—and maybe this time around, another win at his annual festivity can help erase some of the disappointing memories of his 2012 performance.
The tournament features a star-studded field, including FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, Masters victor Bubba Watson, U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and Johnson, last year's runner-up—so if Tiger has another win up his sleeve, he's certainly going to have to work for it.
Though Tiger wasn't able to win a major this year—continuing his major winless streak since 2008—his three PGA Tour wins in 2012 are the most among all participants, according to PGATour.com; in total, the World Challenge field had 19 Tour wins in 2012.
Here's everything you need to know about where and when to catch the action this weekend.
Where: Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
When: Thursday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 2
Golfers to Watch
Stricker's 2012 season was filled with more heartbreak than triumph, punctuated by his performance at the Ryder Cup, where he failed to earn even a single point in four matches.
For the first time since then, Stricker will step foot on a golf course at the World Challenge.
According to PGATour.com's Brian Wacker, the pro took the loss hard—he couldn't even sleep for a couple of weeks. He told Wacker:
I feel a lot of responsibility for not winning a point. I still think about it a lot, and there are reminders all over the place. Every corner I take [at home], there’s a picture from the Ryder Cup or a present or something.
His 2012 season wasn't all bad, however: He kicked it off with a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, came in second at the Bridgestone Invitational and had seven top-10 finishes while only missing one cut.
At last year's World Challenge, Johnson gave Tiger Woods a serious run for his money but ultimately fell by a single shot. Could he exact revenge this year?
Johnson led going into the final round, and if he can do the same this year—and hold off another stellar performance from Tiger, who birdied the final two holes last year—he definitely has a shot.
Johnson scored two Tour wins in 2012, and the first came at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in late May. Less than two months later, he won the John Deere Classic in a playoff. Most recently, he tied for fourth at the Tyco Golf Skills Challenge in mid-November.
Tiger has to be considered one of the top contenders at Sherman this year—not only because this is his own tournament, but because he's the reigning champion.
For the most part, 2012 was a good year for Tiger, at least compared with the two that came before it. He may have been unable to sustain any momentum during each of the majors, but he did score three wins—at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, at the Memorial and at the AT&T National. In his most recent outing, he tied for fourth at the CIMB Classic.
This year, he feels buoyed by the strong performance he put forth in the 2011 World Challenge, when he birdied the final two holes to shoot 10-under and win for the fifth time.
Tiger told USA Today's Steve DiMeglio:
It gave me a lot of confidence, there's no doubt. One reason was winning it, yes, but also the way I did it and who I beat. To go head-to-head with Zach like that, and Zach is not the kind of guy who's going to go away, and the shot that he played over 14 on the green and putting me down. I had one down with two to go, and birdieing the last two holes gave me just a huge shot of confidence going into this year. It was one of the reasons why I think I was able to win early in the year, in March, is because of that.
Notable Groupings for Opening Round (All Times ET):
|10:06 a.m.||Hunter Mahan||Rickie Fowler|
|10:17 a.m.||Tiger Woods||Steve Stricker|
|10:28 a.m.||Bubba Watson||Webb Simpson|
|10:50 a.m.||Zach Johnson||Jim Furyk|
A full list of tee times can be found here.
TV Schedule (via PGATour.com)
|Round 1||Thursday, Nov. 29||3 - 6 p.m. ET||GOLF|
|Round 2||Friday, Nov. 30||3 - 6 p.m. ET||GOLF|
|Round 3||Saturday, Dec. 1||3 - 6 p.m. ET||NBC|
|Round 4||Sunday, Dec. 2||3 - 6 p.m. ET||NBC|
Prediction: Tiger Woods Wins
He's been playing better this year than he was leading up to last year's World Challenge, which he won. Plus, Tiger has more pride than anybody, and he's not going to go down easy at his own tournament. That, coupled with his success this season and his historical success at this tournament, will amount to a winning combination.
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