PGA Tour's First Zozo Championship Draws Big Names To Japan
PGA Tour officials could "not have envisioned the blockbuster status" this week's inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan -- the first official Tour event there -- would "achieve so quickly," according to Steve DiMeglio of GOLFWEEK. Tiger Woods "isn't the only headliner" competing this week, which began unofficially today with a skins event involving Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama. Day birdied the final hole to win. Other big names playing this week include Justin Thomas, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland and Shane Lowry. Scott said, "The Japanese fans are the most enthusiastic fans in the world. They are going to be so excited to see the PGA Tour stars come and play. It will make a great atmosphere and buzz to play in front of" (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/20).
GRABBING VIEWERS: REUTERS' Andrew Both writes Woods "probably had more riding" on today's skins than the other three at an event "created for a worldwide television and streaming audience watching" on GolfTV and, in the U.S. on Golf Channel. Woods last year "signed a long-term contract to provide exclusive material to GolfTV, the PGA Tour's global streaming partner." Woods: "We wanted to do something that's different, something unique. I just thought the competitive atmosphere was fantastic, the shots we hit were great, and on top of that, I think the banter back and forth, the needling, the jabbing, it was all good fun" (REUTERS, 10/21).
MAN OF THE HOUR: GOLF DIGEST's Daniel Rapaport wrote this week was "always going to be a spectacle." Woods' presence in Japan "brings with it a tangible air of anticipation -- and appreciation." Woods last visited Japan in '06. Woods yesterday received what can only be "described as a hero's welcome." He "delighted fans with an appearance at the Nike store" in Tokyo. He also visited a children's center and "looked spry as he participated in a chaotic relay race involving putters, tennis balls, soccer goals and ostensibly something resembling rules." He finished the day by giving the Meiji Univ. women's golf team a "clinic at its on-campus practice facility" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 10/20). GOLF.com's Michael Bamberger wrote Woods has "taken a quiet week in the October golf calendar and made it interesting." Only he "could do that" (GOLF.com, 10/20).