Tournament: Hero World Challenge, December 1-4, 2016
Course: Albany Championship Course, Albany, New Providence, Bahamas. 7,267 yards, par 72.
Purse: $3,500.00. Winner’s share $1,000,000.
Defending Champion: Georgia’s own Bubba Watson. Bubba started strong before separating himself with a 3rd round 63, and maintained his lead Sunday with a 3 stroke victory.
Fun Fact: You’ll see what’s fun about this as you read further. But as a distantly related fun fact, you can actually purchase the boat from the movie Caddyshack.
Television: Thursday-Sunday, 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel) but NBC will get some weekend afternoon coverage. I’m not positive about this, as I can only easily find Thursday’s TV times, but I’m fairly certain this will be it.
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (1-ish): Bubba Watson, and kinda Patrick Reed.
As alluded to up above, this is a made-for-TV event. The field is only 18 golfers, granted they are all in the top 30 in the world rankings save for one (more on that in a bit). 18 golfers, playing the week after Thanksgiving, in the Bahamas, but with $3.5M in prize money… yep, you get the picture.
Say what you want about Tiger Woods, but he can muster up some resources. This tournament was started specifically to contribute to his Tiger Woods Foundation (which is a great organization) and raise money for charity. In 1999, he invited 18 of the top pros to play four rounds for guaranteed cash, rounded up corporate sponsors who would get plenty of airtime, and voila… made-for-TV golf. It actually carries world golf ranking points (which is absurd in my opinion for such a small field and no cut).
But it has been successful, and is now played in the Bahamas after spending the first dozen years in SoCal and one year in central Florida. With such an attractive field the viewer will get to see some good golf, and we’ve even got a smattering of Red & Black representin’.
World #10 Bubba Watson is set to tee it up, and as the defending champion no less. He played spectacular golf last year in this event and is certainly a fan favorite for his fashion-forward Oakley clothing, his pink driver, and his tremendous distance. Bubba hasn’t played much this fall so I’m not sure what to expect out of his game this time ‘round.
Patrick Reed is also entered. One of the heroes of the US Ryder Cup victory this September, Reed was recruited by, enrolled, and played golf for the University of Georgia before transferring to Augusta State under a dark cloud. So I don’t count him as one of the UGA alumni on Tour (but your mileage may vary). He’s actually up to #8 in the world after a very strong 2016 campaign and is regarded as one of the best young US golfers, both physically and mentally. He was runner-up to Bubba last year at this tourney.
Though to be sure, the biggest splash this week comes from the lowest ranked golfer in the field. This guy is #898 in the world (yes, he’s barely in the top 900), he hasn’t played competitive golf on Tour in 16 months, and he’s somewhat controversial. He just happens to be Tiger Woods. And this is his return to competitive professional golf, after undergoing a 7th surgery (several back, both knees, etc.). He was initially going to play some limited golf this fall, but backed out and saved his own tourney for his own comeback. If he finishes all four rounds, even in last place, his world ranking will jump approximately 150 spots, if he’s top 10 he gets in the 500’s, a top 5 finish puts him around 450, and win can move him all the way up to No. 123 (#maths) .
There are some football games of consequence on. You may or may not enjoy Gatorfreude as they get stomped by Saban’s March to the Sea, or the implications of Penn St./Wisconsin where Harbaugh or Meyer is potentially left out of the playoff. So if your holiday shopping is handled, the decorations are on the tree, the weather is bad and you want to pine for tropical breezes, tune in this weekend to see Bubba, DJ, Spieth, Rickie and Henrik. Oh, and Tiger.
And as always….