Graeme McDowell would love nothing more than to defend his title in the Chevron World Challenge, especially because of all it has done for him the last few years.
It might be too much to ask him to return -- along with a lot of other European Tour members.
Because of the Presidents Cup going to Australia, everything on golf’s global calendar has been pushed back. The Presidents Cup will be the week before Thanksgiving, followed by the World Cup in China.
That means the Chevron World Challenge will be the same week as the Hong Kong Open, where Ian Poulter is the defending champion. So he won’t be back at Sherwood next year. “It’s disappointing,” Poulter said. “There’s only certain hours you can sit on a plane. Some guys are going to have to miss out.”
Being opposite Hong Kong isn’t even the worst of it.
The Dubai World Championship -- the big-money season finale on the European Tour -- is the week after the Chevron World Challenge. Anyone playing in California cannot make it to Dubai until late Tuesday afternoon. “And the pro-am is Tuesday,” Paul Casey said.
European Tour members in the Chevron field this year were McDowell, Poulter, Casey, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. Martin Kaymer was supposed to be there until he withdrew after winning this season’s European Tour money title.
Along with Chevron and Hong Kong, the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa will be that week (Dec. 1-4). That attracted Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. For those European Tour members not playing Hong Kong, it makes more sense for them to be in South Africa, which is only two time zones behind Dubai.
“It’s a disaster next year,” McDowell said. “I’m disappointed to see that. But it’s all about geography. “China, L.A., Dubai … it’s not ideal. I’m tired just thinking about it.”
Greg McLaughlin, the president of the Tiger Woods Foundation and tournament director at Chevron, doesn’t see a way out. When he first was made aware of the schedule, he considered moving Woods’ event. But there is no room earlier, and it’s pointless to go after Dubai and bump too close to Christmas.
One half-joking suggestion to McLaughlin was simply to remove “World” from the title for next year. His only solution is to take his lumps for one year, although having Woods in the field certainly won’t hurt interest or attendance.
Chevron and its 18-man field gets world ranking points because there is a set criteria (majors, world ranking). The two sponsor exemptions must be from the top 50 in the world. Depending on how the Americans fare next year, McLaughlin better hope he has enough players available.
“It’s not going to be the same field,” Donald said. “And if the Europeans keep going like this, it will be a weaker field.”