Tiger Woods-designed course seizes Tour spotlight this week

League: Golf

Posted on: 01 Nov, 2023 at 07:22 PM

Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The field includes five of the top 50 players in the world rankings plus Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg, but the course will be the star of the show when the World Wide Technology Championship begins Thursday in Los Cabos, Mexico.

El Cardonal Golf Course at Diamante is the new venue for the annual PGA Tour stop previously played at El Camaleon at Mayakoba. The tour did not renew its agreement with El Camaleon after the 2022 tournament, and it became a LIV Golf venue a few months later.

As a result, this will be the first PGA Tour event played at a course designed by Tiger Woods.

The 15-time major champion won't be teeing it up this week as he continues to recover from ankle surgery last April. But he was on the premises at El Cardonal earlier in the week, shuttled around in a golf cart as he watched a First Tee clinic for local youth.

Woods' design is a par-72, 7,452-yard track for the pros this week, featuring some dramatic elevation changes and views of the Pacific Ocean. Both the first and 18th holes are downhill par-5s where players can challenge for eagles, but not every hole is so easy.

"There are going to be different ways to play every hole," Woods said on the course's website. "Angles of approach are going to be very important and will dictate the type of shots you should consider. I love this kind of golf."

The last three players to win this tournament -- Russell Henley (November 2022), Norway's Viktor Hovland (2021, 2020) and Brendon Todd (2019) -- are not in the field this week.

That could open the door for someone such as Cameron Young, who at No. 16 is the highest-ranked player in the field but is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory.

There's also Aberg, the betting favorite at BetMGM (+900) and other sportsbooks. His play for the victorious Team Europe at the Ryder Cup may have introduced him to casual golf fans, but his form extends beyond that competition.

In his past six starts between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, Aberg has six consecutive top-15 finishes, including a victory at the Omega European Masters. The 24-year-old earned a tour card through the PGA Tour University pathway, but he can still improve his status for 2024 through the fall series.

"I feel like there's a lot of milestones, there's a lot of things you can always try and get to and that's the same way for me," Aberg said. "All I try to do is prepare as good as I can."

Aberg is No. 99 in the FedEx Cup Fall standings, which will finalize eligibility for the 2024 season. Nos. 51-60 in points after the Fall series will qualify for two signature events next year: the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational. The top 125 will be exempt into full-field events and The Players Championship, while Nos. 126-150 will earn Korn Ferry Tour status and conditional PGA Tour status for 2024.

Sahith Theegala opened the fall series with his first career victory at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif. It's his first time in Los Cabos, but he said he loves to play in Mexico.

"The first thing I think of when it's a Tiger Woods design is that you kind of know that the fairways are going to be wide, which I love," Theegala said.

"Driving accuracy, I think it's been well-documented, is the worst stat of my game, so having open fairways is really nice for me. I can kind of use my creativity to shape it into the holes and stuff."

--Field Level Media