Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Tiger Takes Control.

Tiger Woods takes control of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in California.

World of good

Tiger Woods / Getty Images

Tiger shot a second round -10 under par 62 to top the leaderboard in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, with a tournament score of -11 under par, a two shot lead.

He was not happy with his warm up, but produced the goods when it mattered;

“It was good today, it was the first swing I think I made, even during warm-up, that felt really good. And I tried to keep that feeling the rest of the day, and I did. I hit a lot of good shots after that.”

Tiger and Nelson: 

Tiger was informed of Nelson’s passing before he finished the opening round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, and said he found it hard to imagine that the man could emerge from 27 years of imprisonment without any hatred;

“I don’t think any of us probably here could have survived that and come out as humble and as dignified as he did. To lead an entire nation and to basically love the world when he came out, I think that’s a testament to his will and his spirit and who he was. That time frame when he came out of prison, the country could have fallen apart. It could have gone a lot of different ways, and he led it to where it’s at now, and the world is going to miss him.”

Ernie, Nelson and Tiger met with Nelson Mandela ahead of the 2003 Presidents Cup/ PGA Tour

In second place at Thousand Oaks is first round leader Zach Johnson, a second round of -4 under par 68 gives him his tournament total of -9 under par.

Matt Kuchar is in third place at -8 under par, these three are well clear of the field now. Next best is G-Mac at -5 under par, he played along side Tiger and had this to say afterwards;

“It was a clinic, I enjoyed that, it was cool to see that kind of golf. He was under control, he hit it down the middle of every fairway. He didn’t have that kind of violence with his speed through the ball.”

Matt agreed with Graeme’s assessment of Tiger;

“Amazing what Tiger did out there. It’s just some incredible golf. I kind of felt sorry for Graeme McDowell. I saw he posted a 5-under-par round, and it must have felt like it was 2 or 3 over. It’s tough when you’re paired with a guy like that. It makes you feel like you’re not doing much. But the rest of us just go about our business.”

Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Zach Is In The Zone.

Zach Johnson was in the zone at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge for the opening round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in California.

Zach Johnson / getty

 Zach leads the tournament shooting a -5 under par 67 for his first round, giving him a one shot advantage over the field.  Just recently Zach had his annual “summit” with his team of coaches, where they discuss the in and outs of the last year. Analyzing and crunching the statistics, and then lay out goals for where to improve in 2014, one of the areas to  improve upon was par-5 scoring;

“A highlight that we’re looking into next year is trying to play those holes a little bit better. Today I hit it close. I had good shots in there with the proper spin, nothing more than that. But you’ve got to take advantage of them. You’ve got five of them. The thing is, one errant shot, you’re staring a six right in the face, if not more. There’s a lot of penal areas. I did everything decent, just a real solid day all around. I was aggressive when I needed to be aggressive, and I was conservative when I needed to be conservative. It’s nothing more than a decent start.”

In second place at -4 under par is Matt Kuchar, with Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson tied in third spot at -2 under par for the tournament.

On his own in fifth position at -1 under par is Tiger Woods, who said he could not get any putts to drop, he felt he was a couple of shots short of where he should have been;

“I made a few mistakes today, I also hit a couple of good shots that ended up in some interesting spots. That can happen out there. I shot about the score, maybe could have gotten one or two more out of it.”

Graeme McDowell finished at even par 72 for the day, tied in sixth place, he has always scored in the sixties in every round he has played at Sherwood Country Club, until today;

“The course hasn’t been this tough in a couple years, the scoring reflects that. The greens are much firmer, the speed of them caught me by surprise a little bit today. My speed was a little clumsy, and it showed today on the greens.”

This is the final year the tournament is being played at Sherwood Country Club. It moves to Isleworth just outside Orlando, Florida., next year, so everyone really wants to get their name on the trophy. That includes last weeks winner in Australia, Rory McIlroy, who would love to get back to back wins for the year. Rory had his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki following him around, and was hopeful of building momentum from his first win of the year last week in the Australian Open.

TW World Challenge, Magnificent G-Mac Wins

Full circle

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac/Dunn/ Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac,  finished  with a 4-under par round of 68, and a tournament total of  -17 under par, to win the Tiger Woods World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual by three shots on Sunday. It was Graeme’s  first title in two years, he was determined to win as he held off the challenge of  Keegan Bradley. G-Mac was really happy with this result;

“This really caps off my season, we try not to put winning on a pedestal, but this one feels very sweet because it’s been a grind all year. Certainly I will draw some confidence from this one, the game hasn’t given me a huge amount this year. My dollar average around this country club is fairly high, I’m probably right up there in the top-five in the world in California, no doubt about it. We’ll have to look at playing a little bit more here on the West Coast. I’m over the moon to get the job done, for two years I’ve been saying things like processes and trying to get better and be patient and hopefully the wins will come. So I guess I got fed up with telling everybody that I’m playing well. I guess I’m relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I’ve got coming up.”

Graeme won for the first time since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff at Sherwood Country Club to close out a dream season in 2010, that included his first major at the U.S. Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

Second placed Keegan Bradley was at -14 under par for the tournament after his final round of -3 under par 69. Bo Van Pelt finished alone in third spot at -10 under par, with a last round of -2 under par 70.

Tournament host Tiger Woods finished tied in fourth place at -9 under par, with Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler, Tiger admitted he had struggled a bit this week;

“I struggled with my game a little bit this week, I just managed myself well to get around in these conditions. It’s been a long year, and I’ve played a lot, and just really looking forward to a break. Just having nothing to do with golf for a few weeks, just put the clubs away, enjoy the holidays, be with my kids and just really enjoy that. Then after that I’ll start cranking back up again and start focusing on my shots.”

US PGA Tiger Woods World Challenge, Nick Watney Leads

Nick Watney leads the US PGA Tiger Woods World Challenge, presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks  in California. Nick leads the event by two shots, after his opening round of -5 under par, 67.

Watney stays hot

Nick Watney / Dunn / Getty Images

Nick is ahead of Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk, who are all at -3 under par, after their rounds of 69.  Graeme McDowell is just one of thirteen Ryder Cup Players who are contesting in this event, making a very strong field indeed. Tiger Woods is in the group at -2 under par 70, he is in good company with Bo Van Pelt and Webb Simpson both on the same score. There are three players at -1 under par, they are Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Aussie Jason Day. Everybody else is over par, the last player on the board is Brandt Snedeker at +3 over par.

Nick shot a round of  80 in the final round in 2010 and then finished last in the 18-player field last year at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge, he said about today;

“I figured since Tiger is nice enough to invite me, I might as well prepare and try to play well. I’m a little better prepared than I have been coming in here. I’ve come in the past two years pretty rusty, hadn’t been doing much work. This tournament’s definitely not as serious or as cut-throat, maybe, but I think when Sunday comes, we’re all very competitive people. If we’re tied going to the last hole, we definitely want to beat the other guy. Winning this event would be an honor. The list of champions is pretty strong. I think everybody comes here wanting to win even though it’s during the holiday season and all that stuff. I’m trying to use it to prepare for next season, and winning never gets old, so that’s the goal.”

Keegan Bradley said he had played solidly all day,

“I did have a bad break on the last hole, but I played so solidly all day.  The drive on No. 18 was literally resting up against a root, and then just to the right of it was a rock. You know, it was a bad break, but also if it didn’t hit that root it probably would have rolled all the way back down that hill toward the ninth fairway.”

Tiger admitted he did not play to the best of his abilities;

“”I didn’t hit it very good, it was nice to scrape out a good score. I could have easily shot myself out of the tournament, but I kept myself in it.”

Tomorrow is another day, and tournament host Tiger Woods will be keen to assert his authority.