Tiger Woods’ comeback from knee surgery highlights the story lines, as the globe’s top 64 players gather in World Golf Championship
Intended by designer Jack Nicklaus to test generations of champions and created with tournament play in mind, the newly opened Nicklaus Signature Course at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain will be center stage this week as the world’s top 64 players, including Tiger Woods—who is making his return to golf after an eight-month absence converge near Tucson for the Accenture Match Play-World Golf Championships.
The first of the year’s four World Golf Championships, the Accenture will be the focus of the golf world this week when Tiger makes his much-anticipated return to competitive play after undergoing left-knee surgery last June to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament. The surgery was done shortly after his dramatic U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines.
“I missed competing…I had to find competition in different ways,” Tiger said last week during a media conference call. “My rehab was my personal competition. It was fun—it made my workouts more productive.
“I’m as curious as you are. Hopefully I can get into the flow of the round quickly. It helps that it’s match play (where one bad hole might not hurt the entire round).”
The man who continues to pursue the lofty legacy of Jack Nicklaus will get his first test of 2009 on a lush desert mountain Nicklaus layout that has received accolades from members to media to tour professionals, who have explored the course to prepare for its debut on the world stage. Although the fairways are generously wide, there are carries over desert washes required from numerous tees and on several approach shots. The bunkering varies from classic, pot-style obstacles to expansive areas that stretch close to 80 yards. But the spice in the golf course could be the large, undulating greens.
“We put some pretty good movement in the greens,” said Nicklaus. “Today, with as far as the players hit the ball, length is not really an issue or factor anymore. The only place that you’re really going to work them harder is probably on the greens. And if you create a little bit of spice on the greens, it’s the only defense the golf course really has. So we tried to put a little bit more in than I might normally. This being a tournament golf course, we tried to do that but create enough pin placements that the membership can enjoy it, too.”
With elevations that range from 2,300 to 3,000 feet, the original 27 holes of this Jack Nicklaus Signature Course all present unique challenges and distinct character, blended naturally among noble saguaros that stand beneath the surrounding Tortolita Mountain Range. The result is an elite venue ready to be shared by golf friends and legends alike.
The two tournament nines—the Saguaro and Tortolita—form a par 72 that measures 7,833 yards for the Accenture Match Play Championship. Not only will they pose a significant challenge to the world’s best players, the courses were laid out to accommodate the best gallery viewing areas, including a natural grassy amphitheatre that surrounds the ninth green of the Tortolita Course.