In 2018, Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in The Match, a $US9 million pay-per-view exhibition played on Thanksgiving weekend at Shadow Creek, the swanky Las Vegas course built by hotel and real-estate magnate Steve Wynn and designed by Tom Fazio.
Now the PGA Tour will try its hand there.
Tour officials announced today that this year’s CJ Cup will be moved from Nine Bridges Golf Club on Jeju Island, South Korea, to Shadow Creek because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With current travel restrictions in South Korea, which include a 14-day quarantine for anyone travelling into the country from the United States, staging the event in Asia this year became too big an obstacle.
The tournament, officially renamed the CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek for 2020, will continue to have a limited field (78 players). It is scheduled for October 15-18, the week after the tour’s annual stop in Las Vegas, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin, making it easier for players to compete in both events.
“While our players have always looked forward to visiting Korea, the current circumstances provided this new opportunity to bring the event to Las Vegas which will also provide brand exposure and awareness to the viewing audience in the United States and around the globe,” said Ty Votaw, PGA Tour executive vice-president international, in a press release. “We are thankful for the partnership and support that CJ Group and the Korean PGA have shown in view of the circumstances. We are confident this year’s event will showcase a stellar field while bringing the CJ Group’s brand values to a new time zone.”
Shadow Creek ranks 26th on Golf Digest’s most recent ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses, and fifth among public courses. First constructed as a private club in 1990 for Wynn to entertain clients and his celebrity friends, its exclusivity was at one time legendary – up until 2000, the only way on it was through an invite from Wynn. That March, MGM acquired Shadow Creek as part of its $US4.4 billion purchase of Wynn’s Mirage Resorts, and the course was opened to the public.
Not that a round comes cheap. The greens fee is $US500, which also covers a limo ride from the Vegas Strip 20 minutes to the south, and golfers must stay at an MGM hotel in order to play it. Tee-times are available on a limited basis and only a handful of groups are allowed on the course each day.
The course has also undergone some changes since it first opened. Originally 6,619 metres (7,239 yards), it was lengthened by nearly 300 metres as part of a redesign in 2008. A three-hectare short-game facility was added to the grounds as well.
Shadow Creek is also the home to Woods’ annual Tiger Jam Invitational, typically held in May as part of a two-day weekend of events to raise money for the Tiger Woods Foundation. This year’s event was postponed because of coronavirus.
Justin Thomas is the defending CJ Cup champion, having also won the inaugural edition of the event in 2017. Brooks Koepka claimed the title in 2018.
As for the tour’s other two events on its Asian swing – the Zozo Championship in Japan and the WGC–HSBC Champions in China, held the two weeks after the CJ Cup – their fates are unclear. Tour officials have not commented about the status of either event. However, sources tell Golf Digest that the Zozo will be brought to the US as well for 2020, with California’s Sherwood Country Club lined up as a one-time host.
The WGC–HSBC Champions, meanwhile, is likely not to be played, with China having cancelled all sporting events for the remainder of 2020 (with the exception of trials that are related to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing).