Graeme McDowell breaks a 2-year drought with a win at Tiger’s World Challenge
By Gary Montgomery
Thousand Oaks – For the 14th consecutive year, Tiger Woods assembled 18 of the world’s top golfers to help raise money for his foundation, the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Woods and his father Earl launched the first tournament back in 1999 at the Grayhawk Country Club in Scottsdale Arizona. After that, play was moved to its current home at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks.
The course nestled in the Santa Monica mountains winds through the pristine canyons, bordered by lavish estate homes.
Tiger won the Challenge in 2011 with birdies on the final two holes chasing down leader Zach Johnson. Trailing Johnson by 1 at the 17th, Tiger birdied to tie heading to 18 where he sank a 10 foot birdie putt to beat Johnson by a stroke and win his fifth World Challenge victory─ adding to his previous victories in 2001, 04, 06, and 07.
Tiger’s 2011 win also marked the beginning of his comeback (although many believe he never left) to prominence. After winning last December, Tiger scored three victories in a season for the first time since his shortened 2008 season when he won four times.
Those three wins propelled Tiger back to no. 2 in the world in the World Golf Ranking, moving all the way from 23rd the previous year.
Although, much maligned by the American media, Tiger remains the only American player in the top 5 World golf rankings for 2012. Currently at No. 2, Tiger will be chasing a red hot Rory Mcllroy to reclaim his No 1 spot in 2013.
But this year, it was all McDowell. His second round 66 gave him the sole lead and he never relinquished it. “He likes it here. The golf course suits his game, and he keeps the ball in front of him, and he’s a beautiful putter,” said Tiger when asked about McDowell’s dominance. “His ball flight is, I think, perfect for how the conditions are. He hits it flat and loves to draw it, and it’s going to take a lot of the spin off it, which is great,” Tiger continued.
Although nobody likes winning golf tournaments as much as Tiger, without winning, he was no doubt elated at the successful turnout. Thousands of fans roamed the rained soaked course to get a glimpse of their favorite golfer. There were dozens of young men dressed like Rickie Fowler in bright orange attire and sideways tilted hats.
The Tiger Woods foundation’s mission is to provide resources to young people through innovative programs and support so that these youth can attend college and are prepared to properly to succeed.
One of the primary vehicles is the five-year old Earl Woods scholarship offered through the foundation. To date, the World Challenge has also raised more than $25 million for the community. In 2012, the Tiger Woods Learning center in Anaheim is expected to serve more than 15,000 students.
The new Earl Woods scholars program will welcome 17 new students this year. To date, 100 percent of Earl Woods Scholars graduate with their bachelors degrees. The program celebrates its second graduating class this year.
The five year old Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim has become an educational inspiration to many. So successful that TWLC’s have been expanded in Washington, Pennsylvania, and Tiger’s resident state of Florida.
Woods foundation has 25 fulltime employees working on a variety fun raising events, including seven annual tournaments and the very popular Tiger Jam held in Las Vegas. Tiger seldom touts his philanthropic successes and the media doesn’t talk much about them but Tiger Woods Learning Centers are making a difference in a huge way.
Like his foundations, Tiger’s game is on the rise too. Sitting comfortably in the World’s No. 2 spot behind Rory, Tiger has to be excited about his chances to regain his former No. 1 status.
At this point, Tiger’s swing change is nearly complete. The major piece of his game holding him back now is his putting. Tiger missed short birdie putts on multiple holes on Sunday to stop potential rallies but I wouldn’t count Tiger out in 2013.
G. Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org