Tiger Woods shifts World Challenge to Florida
World No. 1 honed his pro game at Isleworth Country Club
Tiger Woods is moving his World Challenge from his old home in California to his old course in Florida, Isleworth Country Club.
Woods said Friday that his charity event, which attracts a world-class field even without being part of any tour, will move in December 2014 to Isleworth, the course where he honed his professional game from 1996 until moving away to south Florida two years ago.
Isleworth is among several golf communities owned by the Tavistock Group, which will share the tournament proceeds with the Tiger Woods Foundation.
"We have a longstanding relationship with Tavistock Group and my friend, Joe Lewis, and I am thrilled to see it grow in support of our foundations," Woods said.
The World Challenge had been at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., since 2001. It was played the first two years in Arizona.
The move appears to be the end of the Tavistock Cup, which began as match between tour players from Isleworth and Lake Nona and since has expanded to include other Tavistock properties, such as Albany in the Bahamas.
One possibility is for the World Challenge to move to the Bahamas, perhaps as early as 2015.
The Tavistock Cup is not part of the spring 2014 schedule on the PGA Tour's website — noteworthy because the tour's schedule still includes the CVS Charity Classic, another unofficial event — and the exhibition is not listed on the Tavistock Cup's website.
"We have had 10 great years hosting our own Tavistock Cup golf tournament, and we believe this new partnership with the World Challenge will allow us to expand our presence and investment in the game," said Andy Odenbach, vice-president of Sports Ventures at Tavistock Group.
The World Challenge would bring far more credibility, and attention, to Isleworth because it is a four-day event that has been televised on NBC Sports. And while the World Challenge is unofficial, it began offering world ranking points in 2010 by developing a criteria for the field and limited its two sponsor exemptions to the top 50 in the world.
Graeme McDowell is the defending champion. This year's 18-man field features 14 players from the top 20.
The World Challenge is so important to Woods that last year he contributed about $4 million of his own money to help cover operating costs. Proceeds led to building the first Tiger Woods Learning Center on 14 acres near where Woods grew up in Cypress, Calif., and next to the H.G. "Dad" Miller Golf Course where he spent so much time as a kid.
The tournament was the first visible showcase of Woods's foundation, and his father Earl, who died in 2006, was a big part of it.
"We've been looking for ways to expand our relationship with Tavistock and this is a perfect fit," said Greg McLaughlin, the president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. "We very proud of the $25 million the World Challenge has raised, and we've been evaluating the best path forward to continue this work."
It was not clear how Tavistock would be presented in the title of the tournament, if at all.
Northwestern Mutual has signed on as the title sponsor for the World Challenge for Dec. 5-8 event at Sherwood; the company is not mentioned with the 2014 event.
Sherwood first became part of the golf landscape as the host of the Shark Shootout, now played in Naples, Fla.