Tiger Woods’ annual World Challenge event will leave Southern California after this year and relocate in 2014 to the place he used to live and hone his game.
The 18-player, 72-hole event — which will be played for the 14th time at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Dec. 5-8 — will move to Isleworth Country Club near Orlando next year. The scheduled dates are Dec. 4-7.
Until moving to Jupiter, Fla., in 2011, Woods had lived in the gated community since turning pro in 1996 and did the majority of his practice and preparation at Isleworth, which consistently ranks among the toughest courses in Florida.
The tournament will have an association with the Tavistock Group, which owns the course and has sponsored a long-time event known as the Tavistock Cup, a 36-hole exhibition. Both Woods’ and Tavistock’s foundations will benefit.
“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 in a statement. “… I’m looking forward to this next phase of the World Challenge and what it can bring to Florida.”
The move is a bit of a surprise, given Woods’ California roots. He grew up in nearby Cypress and his foundation is located in Irvine. Along with his late father, Earl, Woods put together the World Challenge as a way to raise funds for his foundation, and after one year in Scottsdale in 1999, it moved to Sherwood.
Woods has developed several fund-raising vehicles for his foundation, but the World Challenge has always been viewed as dearest to him because of his father’s input. After Chevron left as a title sponsor two years ago, the foundation had difficulty securing a new one. Woods even put up what was believed to be $4 million of his own money for the purse last year, with Graeme McDowell pocketing $1 million for the victory.
Northwestern Mutual was secured as this year’s title sponsor, but it’s just a one-year deal. The move to Isleworth, so far, is for one year, which means other Tavistock venues, including Lake Nona in Orlando or even properties in the Bahamas, could be used to stage the event in the future.
“We’ve got a multiyear contract with Tavistock Group and we’re committed to have that event at Isleworth in 2014,” said Greg McLaughlin, the president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. “We will then review and evaluate beyond that. We haven’t done any planning beyond 2014. We’re obviously focused on this year.”
Woods’ foundation is supported by two other PGA Tour events — the Deutsche Bank Championship and the AT&T National, where the title sponsor is not expected to remain beyond the coming year.
“It’s been one of those times, unfortunately for a lot of charities, where it’s a tough economic climate right now for anyone to try and raise money,” Woods said last month during a conference call to promote the tournament. “Luckily our foundation really got going with this event, some of our other events that we run. We were in that boom.
“I think we’ve got a lot of awareness and equity built in through all those years. I think that’s why we’re still able to raise the money that we’re able to raise, just because people are aware of it and they understand what we’re trying to do and the message is already out.”
Since 2009, the World Challenge has awarded world ranking points. Woods has won the tournament five times.