The Skins Game returned on Sunday night (or Monday morning depending where you are) as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama teed it up at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. All four will play in the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship later in the week.
Woods had never won the event, which featured $350,000 of total prize money, and that trend continued. With $60K to his name, Woods finished T-2 with McIlroy behind the winner Day, who won eight skins, including the 18th hole super-skin worth 100K, to take home $210K total. Matsuyama won one skin for $20K.
Check out Woods’ performance shot-by-shot – with breakdowns of each skins win – at The Challenge: Japan Skins.
Gallery: Best photos from The Challenge
1. Jason Day, eight skins, $210K
T-2. Tiger Woods, five skins, 60K
T-2. Rory McIlroy, four skins, $60K
4. Hideki Matsuyama, one skin, $20K
Hole 18 – Par 5
OFF THE TEE: Jason Day leads with $110K as the boys play under the lights here. It’s real dark. $100K is on the line here with the super-skin, and Tiger starts the hole left, in the trees.
SECOND SHOT: Fantastic swing from the trees there bends this one back into play, down the middle of the fairway. He’ll have a lob wedge from there to get up-and-down for birdie and have a chance at the $100K.
APPROACH SHOT: Tiger lands this one 10 feet behind the hole and it just stops on a dime. Solid effort, but he wanted this one closer from that position.
ON THE GREEN: Jason Day is in for his four, meaning Tiger has to make this to tie the hole and force a playoff, on the 18th, from 125 yards out. Tiger leaves this one well short and it’s over.
WINNER: Jason Day, one skin, 100k.
Hole 17 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Driver. Left. Not in awful shape but it’s certainly not ideal with serious cash on the line.
APPROACH SHOT: Tiger caught a flyer on this one and launched his ball over the green, bouncing it off the back grandstand on the fly.
AROUND THE GREEN: Tiger goes full-flop shot and catches too much ball, carrying this one a good 20-plus feet past the cup. That should take him out of contention on this hole.
ON THE GREEN: No dice, two putts here and he’s out on this hole. If he’s going to win, he needs to win the 18th.
WINNER: Jason Day, four skins, $80K.
Hole 16 – Par 3
OFF THE TEE: $60K. On the line. Great tee shot gets Tiger inside 10 feet for birdie. He could take a huge lead here.
ON THE GREEN: He drills the putt, as does Jason, though. Birdie push. $80K and four skins on the line on No. 17 with the super-skin of $100K awaiting on 18.
WINNER: Nobody. But you already knew that.
Hole 15 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Reachable for some as the boys walk up to a tee box 351 yards from the pin. Tiger misses this one right, in the trees among the gallery. A man of the people, Tiger will be on this hole.
APPROACH SHOT: Tiger was deep in the sticks and punches this one out to the front edge of the green, leaving a good chance to get up-and-down. Solid effort from a tough position.
AROUND THE GREEN: Great chip there rolls to just a few inches and Tiger’s in for par. Now for a few birdie putts from his competitors.
WINNER: Nada. No. 16 is now worth $60K. Let’s get weird.
Hole 14 – Par 5
The third and final charity hole is a real doozy. Each player will choose one club with which to play the entire hole. $100K will be donated to the International Medical Corps by FedEx Cares in the name of whomever wins. If there is no outright winner, the money will be donated on behalf of all four players.
OFF THE TEE: The hole is playing 608 yards and into the wind. And each player needs to use one club, and one club only. Rory thought about 5 wood, but went with an iron, as did all four players. Tiger found the fairway with his 4 iron. Useful.
SECOND SHOT: Solid shot here advances up the fairway. Now the approach shot is where things get interesting. Hideki will have a 6 iron for birdie!
APPROACH SHOT: From 176 yards out Tiger just misses the green, landing on the fringe. This is fun. Really, really fun.
AROUND THE GREEN: Tiger lags this one inside five feet down the slope. Solid effort from there. He doesn’t hit again as his partners lock up the par push.
WINNER: Nobody. Moving on. $40K on the line on No. 15.
Hole 13 – Par 3
OFF THE TEE: Tiger finds the green, left of the pin and inside 30 feet. Not bad, but some of his competitors are way closer with high-percentage birdie putts on the first hole worth $20K.
ON THE GREEN: Tough putt. Tiger misses this one low and right, just didn’t have the line to match the speed. He’s done on this one, no cash for TW.
WINNER: Hideki Matsuyama, one skin, $20K.
Hole 12 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Tiger just carves the fairway right down the middle here. Beautiful shot. Good chance to get up-and-down for birdie from there and claim four more skins and $60K.
APPROACH SHOT: He needed another yard or two of carry here as this one lands on the green inside 10 feet, then falls off a ledge. He’ll have a little outside 20 feet for birdie.
ON THE GREEN: Uphill here breaking right-to-left and Tiger never gave this one a shot. Hit it too hard for his line and this coasts past the cup. He’s done on this one.
WINNER: Rory McIlroy, four skins, $60K.
Hole 11 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: With three skins and $45K on the line, Tiger goes driver here and comes up just off the fairway on the left side. Not his greatest effort, but it’s not a bad spot, either.
APPROACH SHOT: Fairway metal from the first cut and he misses this one short. May be in the bunker, if not, rough. With a 3 wood. On a par 4.
AROUND THE GREEN: TW was, in fact, on the beach with just an awful lie. He had to muscle this one out and didn’t get it to the green. Awful effort with his fourth to get on the green and he picks up. On to the next for the 15-time major champ.
WINNER: Rory and Hideki tie with par. Four skins and $60K on the line now on No. 12.
Hole 10 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Fairway metal. Pure. Left fairway. If Tiger can be this consistent off the tee later this week at the Zozo, we could be looking at win No. 82 on Tour. Yeah, I said it.
APPROACH SHOT: He’s got 136 yards from the fairway and throws this one high in the air. He lands it 40 feet beyond the hole and will have a downhill putt for birdie awaiting. Not bad, but Rory’s real close.
ON THE GREEN: Jason’s in for four. Tiger just didn’t have an eye for this one with the speed. He taps in for four as well. Hideki makes birdie, as does Rory.
WINNER: Birdie push, tough break for Rory. $45K and three skins available here on the 11th.
Hole 9 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Driver here for Tiger and this one is cranked down the right side of the fairway, into the first cut. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. He’s swinging his driver with confidence and man is it smooth.
APPROACH SHOT: After a 319-yard BOMB off the tee, TW has 171 to the hole. He’s asking for it to get up and it doesn’t quite listen, but he’s in decent shape. He’s below the hole, with some serious length for birdie (outside 30 feet), but it’s for birdie and a chance at $15K more.
ON THE GREEN: Tiger absolutely hammered this putt and it was tracking at the hole and hit the edge and bounced out. Right line, just didn’t quite match the speed. Great effort. Tiger makes his par, and the hole is tied.
WINNER: Par push. $30K on the line on No. 10.
Hole 8 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: Big stick for the Big Cat here and Tiger crushed this one, but he’s in the right rough. The lie shouldn’t be *too* bad from there.
APPROACH SHOT: Tiger goes pin-seeking here and gets this one inside 10 feet. That’s a birdie putt awaiting and a chance to take the money lead from Jason.
ON THE GREEN: Boom! Tiger buries the putt and picks up the three Skins and $40K.
WINNER: Tiger Woods, three skins, $40K.
Hole 7 – Par 3
It’s the second charity hole, and first hole worth $15K ($25K with the last Skin included). Each golfer is paired with a rugby veteran in a two-man scramble. Each player hits a tee shot and they play best ball from there. $100K will be donated in the names of whomever wins to International Youth Foundation via FedEx Cares.
OFF THE TEE: Tiger’s on the green here from 144 yards out, inside 15 feet with a good look at birdie and $25K.
ON THE GREEN: Hideki made a birdie putt, as did Rory’s rugby partner, so the money carries over. Tiger missed, as did his partner, but it was just for fun anyways.
WINNER: Three groups made birdie, so the money carries over. No. 8 is now worth $40K.
Hole 6 – Par 5
OFF THE TEE: Right fairway with driver here from Tiger. Took an aggressive line with a solid stroke and was flirting with the water. Not much more to say there. Good ball.
SECOND SHOT: He gave this one a good whack but comes up short and right of the green in the rough. Went for that one in two but came up a good 20-30 yards short.
AROUND THE GREEN: Solid effort with the pitch leaves this one about 10 feet short. He’ll have a good look at birdie there for a chance to tie/steal the Skin.
ON THE GREEN: Misses the putt and picks up. No dice.
WINNER: Rory and Jason push with birdies. $25K on the line on the seventh.
Hole 5 – Par 3
OFF THE TEE: The boys have 177 yards on the second par 3 of the round. Another just flat-out bad shot from Tiger misses the green after Jason Day rinsed his ball short of the dance floor. Then Rory rinsed a ball of his own, and that looked so fun Hideki followed suit. Tiger could win this with bogey.
AROUND THE GREEN: Tiger gets this one close from the beach and has just a few feet for par. He’s in the driver’s seat for a payday and should be able to two-putt for the win.
ON THE GREEN: Scratch that: Hideki made his bogey putt, so Tiger needs to make his par putt to pick up the $20K skin. Tiger converts and picks up the cash and two skins.
WINNER: Tiger Woods, $20K. No. 6 is the final $10K skin hole.
Hole 4 – Par 4
The fourth hole is the first of three charity holes of the round. At any point, the players can choose from either green on the hole (most courses in Japan have two greens per hole: a summer grass green and winter grass green) to play to. The winner will get $100K donated to Save the Children in their name, supplied by Discovery Rise.
OFF THE TEE: Tiger drives this one down the left side. Useful shot, should have a good look at either green to get on the board.
APPROACH SHOT: Well … we don’t know which green Tiger picked. His ball went right inbetween, resting in a collection area in the middle of the two. He can still choose which one to play to from there.
AROUND THE GREEN: Nice little chip there from Tiger. He sticks it close for a good look at par.
ON THE GREEN: Tiger finally putts out and makes par, completing his first hole of the day.
WINNER: Push with pars again. $20K on the line on No. 5.
Hole 3 – Par 3
OFF THE TEE: Par 3. 152 yards. He wasn’t even close to the green, and he took an earful from the boys for that poor effort. The other three found the green and will be putting for $30K after pushes on the first two holes.
APPROACH SHOT: Tiger’s in the bunker after airmailing his second, and Rory is just giving him the business.
AROUND THE GREEN: Pretty decent out from there and Tiger picks up. No money yet for the Big Cat.
WINNER: Jason Day makes birdie and picks up the first three Skins, worth $30K. On to the fourth with $10K on the line.
Hole 2 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: After the $10K push on the last hole, No. 2 is worth $20K. Stinger with a fairway metal off the tee for TW goes right down the middle. Useful.
APPROACH SHOT: Hideki’s close so pressure was on for Tiger, who left his shot outside 30 feet short of the pin. Tough putt but it’s a birdie chance.
ON THE GREEN: Tiger’s first putt of the day! For birdie and a chance at $20K, Tiger blew it well past the hole, like, 15 feet past. That was … not good.
WINNER: Once again, nobody. Pars push the pot up to $30K on the third hole.
Hole 1 – Par 4
OFF THE TEE: They’re going by seniority, so Tiger is first up. Driver for The Big Cat and this one finds the left rough. We’re off, let’s have some fun. As they walk down the fairway, Tiger and Jason Day were talking about sweaters. And not knowing where the green was! Off to a great start.
APPROACH SHOT: After a 292-yard drive, Tiger had 97 left to the hole. He pulled 9 iron and missed the green left. “It’s actually over over there” joked McIlroy.
AROUND THE GREEN: First chip came up short, and the second finds the green. He’s lying four and picks up. No money on the first hole for Tiger.
Winner: Nobody. A few tied so the $10K moves on to the next hole.
Tiger had a Q&A for 17 minutes before the event.