“The Challenge: Japan Skins”
October 21, Tiger Woods of the United States, Jason Day of Australia, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan squared off in a globally-televised skins game, the first in a series of annual competitions staged by GOLFTV.
“The Challenge: Japan Skins” took place Oct. 21 ahead of the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino C.C. in Chiba, Japan.
The exhibition partially mimicked the “The Skins Game,” the PGA Tour’s unofficial offseason event that ran until 2008. Along with the skins format, a number of holes included challenges with additional monetary value that support charity partners and add unconventional twists to the event.
The players competed for a total purse of $350,000, with the first six holes worth $10,000, and hole values escalating to as much as $100,000 on the final hole.
Approximately 3,000 guests were invited to watch the event at the course. Spectators were a mix of GOLFTV competition winners, registered users and event partners. A limited number of tickets were set aside for the public.
“The made-for-TV event presented by MGM Resorts was made to entertain!“
1ST, 2ND AND 3RD HOLES
It was a slow start for the boys, as they felt out the course and the format over the opening few holes.
Day struck first with a birdie at the par-3 third hole, winning three skins and $30,000.
4TH, 5TH AND 6TH HOLES
On No. 4 came the event’s first “charity challenge,” which allowed the players to choose which of the hole’s two greens to play to.
Many Japanese golf courses have two greens at each hole, one for the summer months and one for the winter. The summer green is usually seeded with Bermuda or zyosia grass, and the winter is seeded with bentgrass. The idea is that customers will always have a good putting surface to play on no matter the time of the year.
Nothing really happened on this hole, which was tied with pars. Tiger made one of them and finished the next hole with a par, too. He earned two skins and $20,000 when Day, McIlroy and Matsuyama all found the water off the tee on the par 3.
7TH AND 8TH HOLES
At the par-3 seventh, each competitor was partnered with a rugby legend and they played a two-man scramble. The hole was tied in birdie as Matsuyama made a long putt and McIlroy’s partner, Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll, countered.
Woods then took the event lead at the next with a birdie at the par-4 eighth, worth three skins and $40,000.
At that point, Woods had 5 skins and $60,000. Day had three skins and $30,000. And McIlroy and Matsuyama were at zero.
9TH, 10TH, 11TH HOLES
These holes were all tied.
The 12th hole was worth four skins and $60,000, which McIlroy claimed with a birdie shot. The most impressive part about that shot was that he hit it while scarfing something down. Then, seconds later was interviewed by GOLFTV’s Henni Zuel.
Matsuyama finally got on the board by winning the 13th to claim one skin and $20,000.
HOLES 14 – 17
The last and most intriguing “charity challenge” awaited on the 14th hole. The challenge? Players could only use one club on the par-5 14th, setting up an interesting decision on the tee box.
Woods went with 4-iron and striped one off the tee.
Day, also with a long iron, did this from a greenside bunker.
It got really dark, really fast. Officials tried to speed up play by driving players to their shots in carts, but the foursome contested the last three or four holes in the dark.
Fortunately for Day, the floodlights lit up the 17th green, where he drained an $80,000 putt after holes 14-16 were tied.
By the way, this was the second time on the day that a hole was won with a par.