With the PGA Tour season unofficially over, the calendar turns to silly season and lucrative international events.
While there are some hit-and-giggle events scheduled over the final 10 weeks of the year, there’s more than funny money to be won.
Tiger Woods will be looking to win back some confidence. He’s scheduled to tee it up three more times. Despite a hectic late summer and fall, world No. 1 Luke Donald might make four more appearances before New Year’s Eve arrives. The world’s No. 1-2-3 players are all scheduled to play the Dubai World Championship. And with the Presidents Cup being staged in Australia, the Australian Open is reaping a large reward with its field. And, of course, there’s the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, the biggest event of all for hopefuls looking to make it to the game’s grandest stages.
Here’s a look at the best of the rest of the 2011 season:
Shanghai Masters, Oct. 27-30
The largest winner’s check in golf is up for grabs in this inaugural event.
There will be no world ranking points in this unsanctioned exhibition, but there’s a $2 million first-place check at stake. That’s enough to attract Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, K.J. Choi and Colin Montgomerie to Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai.
WGC-HSBC Champions, Nov. 3-6
Don’t put it past an aggravated Luke Donald to show up and put an exclamation point on his bid to win PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Frustrated after hearing the PGA Tour won’t be sending out ballots for POY voting as scheduled this week, Donald isn’t ruling out playing the HSBC Champions. Donald says if his wife, Diane, gives birth to their second child this week, he might make the trip and play in Shanghai.
The PGA Tour was originally scheduled to mail out Player of the Year ballots on Tuesday, but Tour officials, realizing late that the HSBC Champions counts as an official victory, decided to hold off on mailing the ballots until after the Shanghai event concludes. Ballots are due Dec. 9.
“I feel like if I even went to HSBC and won, they’d find another event to add,” a frustrated Donald said.
All four major championship winners (Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley) are announced as playing. Though commitments aren’t solidified until Friday, Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney and Adam Scott are among players tournament officials have listed as playing. It’s the only World Golf Championship event played outside the United States. While winnings don’t count as official, whoever wins will get credit for an official PGA Tour victory. The odd arrangement makes it feel like an unofficially official event.
Emirates Australian Open, Nov. 10-13
With the Presidents Cup being played Down Under the week after the Australian Open, Woods is among the American contingent using the event at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney to sharpen their games. It will be Woods’ first appearance since tying for 30th at the Frys.com Open three weeks ago. Presidents Cup Internationals captain Greg Norman and American captain Fred Couples are also in the field along with Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, Adam Scott and defending champ Geoff Ogilvy.
Barclays Singapore Open, Nov. 10-13
Instead of heading Down Under early to play the Australian Open, Phil Mickelson is bound for the European Tour event at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore to warm up for the Presidents Cup. Graeme McDowell, Harrington, Y.E. Yang and Anthony Kim are also scheduled to play with a $6 million purse up for grabs.
The Presidents Cup, Nov. 17-20
Woods will be center stage, as usual, with so much attention focused on whether he deserves to be on the American team headed to Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
This international team event has lacked the grudge-match feel of the Ryder Cup, but the intensity has been ratcheted up with controversy over Woods as a captain’s pick.
After Couples announced early he was picking Woods, criticism rained. Even Norman, the Internationals captain, weighed in, saying he wouldn’t have selected Woods. Ogilvy also questioned the pick. A key factor in how this plays out is whether Steve Stricker, whom Woods has teamed so successfully with, will be sufficiently recovered from a herniated disk in his neck to compete.
Australian PGA Championship, Nov. 24-27
Australian stars Ogilvy, Scott and Day will get some international competition with Americans Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler in the field. Norman’s also planning to play what could be a love fest if his Internationals are coming off a Presidents Cup triumph.
Omega Mission Hills World Cup, Nov. 24-27
The two-man team competition will feature some stellar duos in the foursomes and four-ball format in what’s been changed to a biennial event.
The Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel/Louis Oosthuizen lead the way as major championship winning combos. The United States’ Matt Kuchar/Gary Woodland, Germany’s Martin Kaymer/Alex Cjeka and England’s Ian Poulter/Justin Rose also are scheduled to play. Italy’s Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, will be back as defending champs.
Chevron World Challenge, Dec. 1-4
World No. 1 Donald won’t be playing Tiger’s event. Neither will the defending champ, McDowell.
Woods needed a sponsor’s exemption to make it into his own event for his final appearance of the year.
With the Nedbank Challenge going on the same week, Donald and McDowell will be among the lucky dozen competing for riches in South Africa. But you can count Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas among the headliners in the 18-player field at Sherwood Country Club.
Nedbank Challenge, Dec. 1-4
Twelve players compete for $5 million in prize money at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.
Donald, Lee Westwood, Kaymer, Schwartzel and McDowell are among the lucky dozen that will be going for the $1.25 million first-place prize. Last place will take home at least $250,000.
PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, Nov. 30-Dec. 5
Six days of hell.
That pretty much sums up the angst more than 150 players will be feeling in the final stage of Q-School at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. The top 25 and ties earn fully exempt status with the next 55 and ties earning Nationwide Tour status and the rest earning conditional Nationwide Tour status.
Dubai World Championship, Dec. 8-11
World No. 1 Donald, No. 2 Westwood and No. 3 McIlroy make this a stellar finish to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai competition at Jumeirah Golf Estates in the United Arab Emirates. With No. 6 Kaymer in the field, four of the top six players in the world will compete for $7.5 million in bonus money in the season-long competition, as well as a $7.5 million tournament purse. Donald holds a commanding lead in the season-long money race, making him a virtual lock to win the Harry Vardon Trophy and the $1.5 million bonus jackpot that goes with it.
Franklin Templeton Shootout, Dec. 9-11
Defending champs Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter won’t be back, but Stricker, Bradley, Simpson, Fowler and Norman will be featured in the two-man team event at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.
JBWere Masters, Dec. 15-18
The tireless world No. 1 is scheduled to make his final appearance in a breakthrough year at Victoria Golf Course in Melbourne. Donald is scheduled to play for a third consecutive week following the Nedbank Challenge and Dubai World Championship.
Thailand Golf Championship, Dec. 15-18
The season-ending Asian Tour event boasts an impressive field with McIlroy, Westwood, Ryo Ishikawa and Darren Clarke. There’s a $1 million purse but obviously some appearance fees making this worth the trip to Chonburi.