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10/01/2013

Woods, McIlroy and McDowell lead elite World Challenge field

Annual tournament to take place Dec. 4-8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Tiger Woods leads an impressive field at Sherwood. AP Tiger Woods leads an impressive field at Sherwood.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The 2013 Northwestern Mutual World Challenge returns to Sherwood Country Club, Dec. 4-8, welcoming an elite 18-player field that will include host Tiger Woods, defending champion Graeme McDowell, 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, 10 of the top 20 players in the FedExCup standings and an impressive roster of players from the 2013 Presidents Cup.

"We are thrilled about the depth and talent of our field, and I'm looking forward to another exciting year of intense competition at Sherwood Country Club," Woods said. "It's so great to welcome Northwestern Mutual as the tournament's title sponsor. They have been an exceptional partner to the Foundation over the years."

The Northwestern Mutual World Challenge is a four-round, 72-hole stoke-play event with a $3.5 million purse and players competing for a $1 million winner's check. The unique showcase, which awards Official World Golf Ranking points, will be held at the challenging par-72, 7,052-yard Sherwood Country Club for its 15th year. This year's field exemptions will be announced at a later date.

The 2013 field includes:

Tiger Woods has won the World Challenge five times throughout his career, his most recent win coming in 2011 with a dramatic six-foot birdie putt on the final hole, edging Zach Johnson by one stroke. Coming off a phenomenal season, Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open, the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, finishing the season with five TOUR wins. His list of career accomplishments is incredibly long, but the highlights are 79 victories on the PGA TOUR, the most of any active player, and 14 major championships, second to Jack Nicklaus' 18. Age: 37; Hometown: Jupiter, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $8,553,439.

The 2013 Northwestern Mutual World Challenge also showcases top European players on TOUR such as 2012 defending World Challenge champion Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. A fan favorite, Graeme McDowell won last year's event in an intense final round, defeating Keegan Bradley by three strokes. McDowell shot a 4-under-par 68 at rain-saturated Sherwood Country Club to finish at 17-under 271. In addition to winning in 2012, McDowell also took home the trophy in 2010 after defeating Woods in the tournament's first playoff. McDowell had an impressive 2013 season, most notably winning his second PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage by defeating Webb Simpson in a sudden-death playoff. Age: 34; Hometown: Portrush, Northern Ireland; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $2,174,595.

Rising star Rory McIlroy finished fourth at the 2010 World Challenge at 11-under 277 after turning in a final-round 68. McIlroy continues to make his mark with a total of six PGA TOUR victories, four during the 2012 season when we won the Honda Classic, PGA Championship, Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship. After starting the season No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, McIlroy's best finish in 2013 came at the Valero Texas Open where he placed second at 12-under 276, two strokes behind Martin Laird. Age: 24; Hometown: Holywoods, Northern Ireland; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $1,802,443.

Lee Westwood's best finish this season came at The Open Championship where he finished tied for third, opening with rounds of 72-68-70 to carry a two-stroke lead into the final round. He finished four strokes behind champion Phil Mickelson. Age: 40; Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $2,081,731.

Ian Poulter ended the season strong with four top-10 finishes, his best at The Open Championship where he placed tied for third after having a remarkable Sunday with a 4-under 67, including an eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie stretch on Nos. 9-12 at Murifield. Age: 37; Hometown: Orlando, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $1,723,463.

Jason Dufner's biggest moment this season came at the PGA Championship when he defeated Jim Furyk by two shots at Oak Hill Country Club, earning his third career TOUR victory. Later this season, Dufner finished tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, marking his third top-10 finish in his last four starts. Other PGA TOUR victories include 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Age: 36; Hometown: Auburn, Ala.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $3,132,268.

Finishing the season at No. 6 in the FedExCup standings, Matt Kuchar has had a successful 2013 season, winning the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial Tournament, where he took a two-stroke lead into the final round and never lost the advantage to claim a two-shot win over Kevin Chappell for his sixth PGA TOUR title. Also this year, Kuchar finished tied for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass., five strokes behind Henrik Stenson. Age: 35; Hometown: Sea Island, Ga.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $5,616,808.

Hunter Mahan has five career victories on the PGA TOUR, the last two coming during the 2012 season at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open. This year he shared the opening-round lead [at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am] with Russell Knox, shooting a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach GL, and eventually finished tied for 16th. A week later at the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship, he nearly succeeded in his title defense before losing to Matt Kuchar in the final match. Also this year, he finished tied for eighth at the Northern Trust Open, his first top 10 in eight starts at the event. Age: 31; Hometown: Colleyville, Texas; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $3,036,164.

Brandt Snedeker's biggest moment this season came when he claimed his sixth PGA TOUR title with his victory at the RBC Canadian Open, after trailing Hunter Mahan by eight strokes after the second round. He seized the opportunity over the weekend with a bogey-free, 9-under 63 in the third round to set up a one-stroke lead heading into the final round. His three-shot win moved him to No. 3 in the FedExCup standings in defense of his 2012 FedExCup title. Snedeker finished No. 12 in the FedExCup standings. Age: 32; Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.; PGA TOUR earnings: $5,318,087.

Ernie Els has an impressive 19 PGA TOUR victories, the most recent coming during the 2012 season at The Open Championship. This season, Els' best finish came at the U.S. Open, where he finished tied for fourth, carding a final-round, 1-under 69 to finish his 21st U.S. Open start. Other 2013 season notables include finishing tied for sixth at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in England after a final-round 67. Age: 43; Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $1,173,761.

Zach Johnson had a dramatic 2011 World Challenge, going shot-for-shot with Woods on Sunday, only to be edged by one stroke on the final hole. Finishing the season at No. 5 in the FedExCup standings, Johnson has made his mark on the TOUR this season with eight top-10 finishes, including winning the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms. Johnson began the final round of the BMW Championship three strokes off Jum Furyk's lead, before a 6-under 65 on the Monday finish resulted in a two-stroke win over Nick Watney at 16-under 268. He finished the season at No. 5 in the FedExCup standings. Age: 37; Hometown: St. Simons Island, Ga.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $4,044,509.

Bubba Watson has four career victories on the PGA TOUR, the most notable being the 2012 Masters Tournament. This season Watson has had three top-10 finishes, placing fourth at the Travelers Championship after holding the second-round lead and a share of the third-round lead. Age: 34; Hometown: Orlando, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $1,759,276.

Rounding out this exceptional field are veterans Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker. Jim Furyk took home the World Challenge trophy in 2010, closing with 67-67 for a remarkable 10-under weekend and a 13-under total of 275, worth a one-shot victory over McDowell. Furyk has a total of 16 PGA TOUR victories over the course of his career, including the more recent wins such as the 2005 Cialis Western Open, 2006 Wachovia Championship, 2007 Canadian Open, the 2010 Transitions Championship and the 2010 TOUR Championship. This season, Furyk's best finish came at the PGA Championship where he placed second after holding a share of the first-round lead and sole possession of the third-round lead. He entered the final round with a one-shot lead over Dufner, but shot a 71 and finished two shots behind. Age: 43; Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $3,204,779.

Stricker has a total of 12 PGA TOUR victories over the course of his career including the more recent wins such as the 2011 Memorial Tournament, 2011 John Deere Classic and the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. This season, Stricker finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, four strokes behind Dustin Johnson, and second at the World Golf Championships-Caddillac Championship, two strokes behind Woods. He has 13 career runner-up finishes. Stricker finished the season at No. 3 in the FedExCup standings. Age: 46; Hometown: Madison, Wis.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $4,440,532.

In addition to the seasoned veterans on TOUR, the World Challenge will feature two rising young stars, Keegan Bradley and Jason Day. Bradley finished second at the 2012 World Challenge, coming up three strokes short of McDowell. Bradley closed with a 69 to wind up at 14-under. Bradley currently has three PGA TOUR victories, with the most recent coming from the 2012 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. This season Bradley has had seven top-10 finishes, most notably finishing second at HP Bryon Nelson Championship, tying Snedeker for the most top-10 finishes on TOUR. Bradley finished No. 18 in the FedExCup standings. Age: 27; Hometown: Jupiter, Fla.; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $3,436,813.

Day has also had an impressive 2013 season with seven top-10 finishes on TOUR, including finishing third at the Masters Tournament. Day finished the PGA TOUR season at No. 17 in the FedExCup standings. Age: 25; Hometown: Forest Lake, Queensland, Australia; 2013 PGA TOUR earnings: $3,625,030.