Looking ahead: Hero World, Presidents Cup, more on December calendar

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Looking ahead: Hero World, Presidents Cup, more on December calendar

PGA Tour

Looking ahead: Hero World, Presidents Cup, more on December calendar

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Seventy-two hours.

That’s the length of time between Jon Rahm being crowned the big winner of 2019 on the European Tour and the circuit’s start of its 2020 season –who cares if it isn’t 2020 yet – which debuted with the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, made his return from a wrist injury that sidelined him since June in his native land and finished T-3, two shots back of winner Pablo Larrazabl.

The Euro Tour then continues its African sojourn at the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open, but the eyes of the golf world will be on The Bahamas, where Tiger Woods plays host to the Hero World Challenge.

Last we saw Woods he was polishing off a vintage performance in Japan and hoisting his record-tying 82nd Tour title. Winning the Hero won’t count as an official victory, but count Woods in for at least a top-20 finish. That’s because it is only an 18-man field. It is a star-studded field, to be sure, with several members of the U.S. Presidents Cup team among the contestants, including defending champion Rickie Fowler. Don’t forget about the PNC Father-Son in Orlando, where golf fans can drink in the nostalgia of watching Jack Nicklaus (and grandson), Gary Player, Tom Watson, and for the first, Annika Sorenstam (with her father) team up in a two-person scramble format.

Meanwhile, most of The International Team will be getting acclimated to life in Oz at the Australian Open. Aussies Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith return home as conquering heroes to face the test of The Australian Golf Club.

Battle Royal

That takes us to the Presidents Cup, Dec. 12-15, at Royal Melbourne, where the International side will seek its first win since 1998 – when the biennial competition was held at none other than Royal Melbourne. Woods will serve as the first playing captain since Hale Irwin in 1994.

PGA: The Presidents Cup-Day Four

The U.S. team celebrates with the 2018 Presidents Cup trophyat Liberty National Golf Course. (Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

The Presidents Cup is going to air in prime time in the U.S. on the east coast. For the golf junkie, the daytime matinee is the QBE Shootout at Tiburón Golf Course in Naples, Florida. The Greg Norman-hosted team competition has a lot of the usual suspects, including defending champs Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire, but the team worth tuning in for is rookies Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff.

But wait, there’s more

The real drama that weekend will be contested across the state in Winter Garden, Florida, at the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School. There’s an old saying in golf that pros eat what they kill. The most direct route to PGA Tour status is through the Korn Ferry Tour and those finishing in the top 40 (and ties) at Q-School will be a leg up on the competition to make the next step to the promised land. If the Presidents Cup is about playing for pride and country, Q-School is about playing for your livelihood.

And just when you thought that all this golf in one weekend was the equivalent of a fireworks finale, the European Tour has last call before calling it quits for 2019 on the Gold Coast of Australia at the co-sanctioned Australian PGA Championship.

Wonderful World marathon

At last, the last week of the year is a veritable golf wasteland, a chance for rest and relaxation and to recharge the batteries. But never fear, the Golf Channel has us covered with marathon re-run of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf matches on New Year’s Eve. Is there a better way to ring in the New Year, or to stock your DVR for an impending winter blizzard? But just when you’re feeling the first pangs of missing live tournament golf coverage, the wait is over and balls will be in the air in Maui for the PGA Tour’s winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions on Jan. 2.

Pro golf in December: it ranks right up there with egg nog, kissing under the Mistletoe and decking the halls with boughs of holly.

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