by Jeff Skinner
The first week of December brings the familiar sights and sounds that we have come to expect this time of year. No, it’s not Christmas carols, Charlie Brown Christmas or visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads. It’s golf of course and plenty of it.
Amazingly this week gives us not one tournament, not two, not even three, but four golf tournaments. It seems more like a week in June then is does a week in December. And each of the events has a little bit of a buzz surrounding them.
Of course Tiger’s Chevron World Challenge will get the most press but that doesn’t mean the other tournaments are any less compelling. Tiger’s season ending Chevron Challenge is usually just a millionaire’s money grab with a bunch of pros looking for some cash to stuff in their stockings. But this year it is more than just a showcase for few fat cats. We last saw Tiger Woods down under playing his best golf in two years and this is his last chance to show that he is on the comeback trail. There are eighteen golfers competing for the $1.2 million winner’s check but a win here would mean more to Tiger than anyone in the field. Tiger likes to say “it’s a process” and here is his chance to prove that the “process” is working.
The European Tour is playing The UBS Hong Kong Open as they march towards next week’s season ending Dubai World Championship. With names like Rory, Ian, Yang, Jimenez, Manassero, and Rose it looks like this could be exciting week in Hong Kong.
Some European stalwarts are teeing it up in the warmth of Sun City, South Africa at The Nedbank Golf Challenge. This is the Sunshine Tour’s version of Tiger’s tournament but with fewer entrants, better players and a bigger winner’s check. Donald, Westwood, Kaymer, G-Mac, Schwartzel and Darren Clarke will be vying for the $1.25 million and the (last) twelfth place finisher pocketing $250,000. Not a bad weekend to be in last place.
Last but very definitely not least, is The PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament or Q-School in La Quinta California. This is by far the most exciting and compelling tournament of the week. This is six rounds of torture where golfers will spend most of their round trying to keep their breakfast down. The top 25 finishers get a ticket to the PGA Tour and this tournament has something in common with a major championship: it changes lives. There are over 170 golfers looking to earn their card or earn it back as names like David Duval, Tommy Armour III, Rich Beem, Lee Jensen and Boo Weekley and Jason Gore try to get back on tour. As the last round winds down on Sunday night players will feel pressure like they have never felt before. Q-School is part golf, part soap opera, and part drama overflowing with anxiety, tension and courage. It has the suspense of Hitchcock and the blood and guts of Tarantino. It is must see TV.