THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Bill Haas was a spectator during his last visit to the Chevron World Challenge. He participated in one of the pre-tournament pro-ams, then watched his father, Jay, compete in Tiger’s tournament.
“I remember he was saying this should be one of your goals, to get here one day,” Bill Haas said.
Haas is here this week as a headliner, the recent FedEx Cup champion. He’s coming off a recent Presidents Cup appearance and individual events in China (T-42, WGC-HSBC Champions) and Australia (T-29, Australian Open). Haas was married in June, but will use next week finally to take his honeymoon in Costa Rica.
“It seems the better you play, the less off-season you have,” Haas said. “These are all good problems to have.”
Seventeen other players here at Sherwood Country Club have the “problem” of competing for $5 million and a truckload of world-ranking points. The Chevron may be one of the hardest events to win because of its strong field. Its small field may make it one of the easiest, though.
“It’s equally as tough to win this week as any other tournament,” Haas said. “I would think it’s going to take the same type of score as it would any 144-man field.”
Tiger Woods is here, seeking his first victory since 2009. He’s a four-time Chevron champion, and was runner-up last year to Graeme McDowell. Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland commuted from China after winning the World Cup on Sunday. Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson are here after playing last week’s Australian PGA. Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are other notables in the field.
McDowell is in South Africa this week, at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, another small-field, season-ending money grab for the world’s top players. World No. 1 Luke Donald, the 2005 Chevron champion, also is in South Africa, as are Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel. The European Tour’s season-ending Dubai World Championship is next week. The commute from Africa to the Middle East is much easier than the one from Southern California.
PGA champion Keegan Bradley is another of the first-time participants in this year’s Chevron field. It’s not lost on him that while he competes for millions of dollars, there are nearly 200 players also in Southern California competing in this week’s Q-School.
“I’ve watched this tournament a bunch,” Bradley said of the Chevron. “At the beginning of the year, I would never have thought I’d be here playing. It’s just really cool.”