Tiger Woods prepares for an ’emotional’ farewell

Posted at 8:20 AM, Dec 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 10:20:22-05

(CNN) — World No. 1 Tiger Woods is anticipating an “emotional” weekend as his annual invitational tournament bids a fond farewell to the Sherwood Country Club.

After 14 years, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, as it has been known since 2013, is leaving Woods’ native California and heading to the Isleworth Golf & Country Club near Orlando, Florida.

“Sherwood, the board here, all the volunteers that come out and support us in sunshine or rain, wind, cold or perfect sunny So Cal days,” the 14-time major winner told the PGA Tour website.

“They come out to support our event and have made this event as special as it has been. Most golf tournaments don’t stay at one golf course for that long. I foresee certainly an emotional Sunday for sure.”

Woods is a five-time winner of the event, which is held as a benefit for the Tiger Woods Foundation, boasts a prize fund of $3.5 million — $1 million of which goes to the winner.

This year’s 18-man field features illustrious names such as former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and American major winners Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

Woods admits it was not easy to get so many world class golfers in one place at the same time at the end of an arduous year.

“It’s harder to get good players to play, quite frankly,” said the 37-year-old. “And sponsorship dollars are certainly not exactly easy to come by in these economic times. So it made sense for us to move.

“It was certainly not an easy decision. But there are a lot of players that are based there in Florida. It will be a little easier for the guys to make a trek out instead of coming all the way out here, to stay right there in Florida.”

Reflecting on his own season — which has included five PGA Tour titles — Woods bemoaned his inability to capture a major championship.

“I certainly wish I could have played a little better in major championships,” added Woods. “I was there at the Masters and there at the British certainly with a chance, but just didn’t get it done.

“The other two I just didn’t play well. But winning The Players Championship and then obviously four other events, I think it’s a pretty good year.

“I feel like I’ve improved this year than I did over the previous year. I’m very pleased at the overall year.”

McIlroy heads into the event off the back of his first win of the year at last week’s Australian Open.

This season has seen the Northern Irishman slip to sixth in the world rankings and struggle to display his best form having switched to Nike clubs at the beginning of 2013.

At the end of a season when the two-time major winner has failed to challenge for the sport’s most prestigious titles, McIlroy was pleased with his ability to grind out a win despite fierce competition from in-form world No. 2 Adam Scott.

“I felt like I saw enough good golf in there to know that it was very close, and it wasn’t going to be long before I did win,” said the 24-year-old.

“What I was happy with the most was the limited amount of times that I have gotten in contention this year, I have played well. I have played well down the stretch. I’ve played well under pressure, and that is something that I really have improved on the last few years.”

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