The idea of a Ryder Cup- or Presidents Cup-style event for senior tour players has been bandied about for years. And, in fact, the inaugural playing of such a tournament was supposed to take place in late 2022. That didn’t happen, but many of the same organizers have kept pushing forward, and the event will become a reality later this year.
PGA Tour Champions and sports event and marketing company Intersport announced on Monday that the first World Champions Cup will be held Dec. 7-10 at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. The competition, chaired by Peter Jacobsen, brings together teams from the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, with six-man squads representing the U.S., Europe and Internationals. Jim Furyk will captain the Americans, Irishman Darren Clarke leads Europe, and South African Ernie Els helms the Internationals.
All three captains will play, with two automatic spots on each team coming from a World Champions Cup ranking system that emphasizes past international team play, another two being chairman’s picks, and the final spot based on the year-end Charles Schwab Cup standings.
“We’re about to launch here in December an event that we think’s going to be a 100-year event. This is going to go on forever,” said Charlie Besser, founder and CEO of Intersport.
“We actually started working on this idea 10 years ago and we have been working on it and working on it and working on it,” Besser said. “It just tells us that persistence is truly omnipotence. If you keep hanging in long enough, something good’s going to happen.
“The idea was really to build upon the excitement of the Ryder Cup and of the Presidents Cup, to try to bring everybody together, the entire world together in one event. … And we all know that the guys who play PGA Tour Champions have got some serious old scores to settle with each other and they are excited to get back out there and get after it.”
Intersport and PGA Tour Champions announced in March 2021 that the inaugural WCC would take place in the fall of 2022 at a course yet to be determined, but that ultimately did not happen.
Now, the event is set for a venue that has become well-known and popular to golf fans, with Concession having hosted the 2021 World Golf Championships tournament that was moved from Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collin Morikawa was the winner.
The organizers have gone to considerable lengths to make the WCC unique. The entire competition, to be televised annually by ESPN and ABC, will be held on Concession’s back nine, and all matches will run through nine holes, with no early close-outs. There will be eight matches per day, and in the first two days (Thursday and Friday) the matches will feature sixsomes, with two players from each team. If two teams tie on a hole, those teams will earn a half-point. If three teams tie, each gets a half point. The total points at the end of the three days will determine the winning team.
Two other wrinkles not seen in other international team competitons: There will be a Saturday pro-am that breaks up the match-play portions on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and the players will be paid: $100,000 to each of the winners, $75,000 for second place and $50,000 for third place.
“It’s just going to be special,” said Clarke, a five-time Ryder Cup player for Europe. “As we’re a little bit older, don’t think for one second that we’re not as intense now and as much into trying to win. It’s going to be so exciting that we’re going to get the opportunity to do it again.”