World Champions Cup Update

World Champions Cup Update

Billy Andrade said when he was growing up, in the 80s, the Ryder Cup wasn’t that big of a deal. It was important to golf fans, serious golf fans, but there weren’t that many 30 or 40 years ago. And the Ryder Cup certainly didn’t have the TV presence and hype that the event has today.

Same for the Solheim Cup that took 10 years to get the traction and build the audience it now enjoys.  

I sure hope it does because I’m here at the inaugural World Champions Cup at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton Florida.

This is my update from the tournament. My preview for the event can be found here.

The tournament has started. The players have warmed up though it has been a cold couple of days here in southwest Florida dipping into the 50s.

All the players are out on the golf course. Each team has earned a few points.   I’m gonna talk a little bit about the format, the golfers and the golf course.  

Opening Tee Shot by Tony Jacklin

Ceremonial Tee Shot – Tony Jacklin

The opening ceremonies were hosted by the always entertaining Peter Jacobson. He invited Tony Jacklin to hit the ceremonial first tee shot.  

Jacklin lives in the area and designed the golf course with Jack Nicklaus.  He won the 1969 open championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s and the US Open in 1970 at Hazeltine in Minnesota. 

He played on 7 Ryder Cup teams and was captain for 4 consecutive matches starting in 1983, winning twice and then leading the European team to a tie, still only the second tie in Ryder Cup history.  The first tie was in 1969 when Nicklaus conceded a final putt, the namesake for Concession Golf Club. 

Amazing career, and he is rewarded, thanked, by having to hit the ceremonial drive over water into a breeze.  Oh, and it was 54 degrees.  I was freezing.  

Jacklin is a pro, even at 79.  He piped one down the middle, a very good sign for the event. 

Practice Range

These guys, as I’ve said before have written the history of golf over the last 30 or 40 years.  

Bernhard Langer is the best senior golfer ever. Steve Stricker is following in Langer’s footsteps, and may even surpass him someday, the golf history yet to be written.

I watched Vijay was grinding on the range, he is past parallel, and Darren Clarke makes a nice move on the ball.

I love watching these guys on the practice tee.  All are flexible and make Sublime contact with every swing. 

I watched Miguel Angel Jimenez go thru his unique stretch routine, he makes it look very easy.  Jesper Parnevik tried to follow him, going thru the same moves.  

Parnevik is fit and limber and could not follow Jimenez.  The full bit is at the World Champions Cup twitter feed, and it is really good.  

The atmosphere is loose but from the interviews I watched, these guys are competitive they want to win.  

It’s really no different than the $5 Nassau I play with my golf buddies. it’s not the money that matters it’s the competition and the challenge, and I would imagine for professional golfers who’ve been to the heights that these guys have, those challenges in the competition still mean a lot and that is what makes it so much fun to watch.


Concession Golf Club

Kody Kokx, one of the pros on staff at Concession took me though many of the 9 holes, and gave me his perspective on the golf course.   Thanks again Kody

I mentioned in my preview post that Concession was tight with not a lot of room for bailouts. But that is not really true. 

The course would be tight for me, but not for elite golfers.  They have many options for tee shot on most holes. Concession, though is a 2nd shot golf course.  

Kody explained that the greens were not big they’re actually actually quite small. The green complexes are huge as are the many collection areas.  

danger lurks everywhere; front back sides you have to be precise hitting the greens to score on this golf course or you can get into a lot of trouble very quickly.

The greens are slick, running at 12.5 this week, but when you factor in the slopes it can be hard to keep putts on the green. And We did see a few long putts settle in the fringe in the first two rounds.  And these guys are all exceptional putters.  

There is water on every hole.  And there is always wind out here.  It is either very still or blowing pretty good at Concession.

The property is pristine with a lot of a lot of wetlands.  And you can’t see any houses from the golf course.  Concession is golf and nature, very serene and very peaceful  

WCC Match Play or Tri-Match Format

One other item I did not mention in the preview.  The teams remain the same for the morning and afternoon matches, and the pairings were the same for both days on both teams.  Which is a disappointment, though It matters less because everyone on the team plays in every session.   

I guess i was thinking of the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, and all the thought and strategy that goes into the pairings.  But for these guys over 9 holes, perhaps they are looking for routine and not changing things up.  

I watched all of the groups in the sixsomes, that is best-ball and in the scotch sixsomes, the modified alternate shot.

It got a bit confusing with 6 balls in the fairway, 3specially the first few holes, but all of the golfers seemed conscious of moving the matches along.  

I also watched the broadcast for a bit on ESPN.  The scoring was a bit confusing, probably because this scoring is completely new.  And i have not heard anyone say they have played it or seen this format before. 

 I’m not really sure what to call it. It’s not matchplay it’s not strokeplay, it’s threesomes or maybe Tri-Match or WCC Match play.

Regardless of the name, I think as hoped for the format is unique and interesting to watch, and it keeps all golfers involved on all the holes hopefully keeping the matches close.

The singles matches on the final day will be interesting again and I’m looking forward to spending the day at Concession.  


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