The inaugural edition of the World Champions Cup was played this weekend (December 7-10), at the Concession course in Bradenton, Florida. Team USA, led by Jim Furyk, obtained a brilliant victory in a tournament characterized by high competitiveness.
The team led by Furyk had to do their best to stay in contention and won the World Champions Cup almost on the last hole. The competition was so intense that the Americans closed in second place on the first day and repeated the feat on the second, while their rivals alternated at the top of the table.
However, the best of the American team was left for last. Team USA went into Sunday’s singles round half a point behind Team International, and the situation continued to deteriorate. After the three morning matches, Team International led by 2.5 points (167.5 to 165).
It was then that Justin Leonard, Billy Andrade, and David Toms worked the miracle for the Americans. The three combined their individual scores to achieve the two-point lead over Team International which ultimately proved decisive.
The final score for the event was 221 points for Team USA, 219 for Team International and 208 for Team Europe.
After the victory, American captain Jim Furyk had this to say (via Pro Golf Weekly):
“I’m so happy for this team. These guys are awesome. We’re all good friends. When we needed it today Billy Andrade won the 9th hole and David Toms the 8th hole. I mean we were 2,5 points down but in a flash, after two of the last three holes all sudden were a half of point up.”
According to Charles N. Besser, Chairman and CEO of the main sponsor of the World Champions Cup, the sports media and marketing company Intersport, it is an event that will become the fourth team tournament in world golf. These were his words to the PGA Tour News Service:
“The World Champions Cup will become the fourth global ‘Team Major’ on the worldwide golf calendar, joining the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Solheim Cup as one of the game’s most prestigious legacy events.”
How does the World Champions Cup work?
The event involved teams from the United States, Europe, and International, each composed of six Senior male players. The idea is similar to the Ryder Cup, although it is played with some differences in the formats.
The competitive days were Thursday, Friday, and Sunday (a Pro-Am event was played on Saturday). The first two days featured variants of the well-known four-balls and foursomes (called six-balls and sixsomes in this tournament). On the final day, the individual matches were played. All matches were played over nine holes.
Another difference is that the players were paid in the World Champions Cup. The first-place finishers received $100,000 per player, the second-place finishers $75,000, and the third-place finishers $50,000.
The tournament is sanctioned by the PGA Tour Champions and is expected to be played on an annual basis.