The 2012 World Challenge, presented by Northwestern Mutual, may be filled with Americans but one Northern Irishman is storming the field in his last challenge of the year.
Graeme McDowell ended the second day three points clear of a chasing pack that included Tiger Woods, the host of this year’s challenge. Starting the round in shared second place, McDowell carded three birdies in a row before dropping a shot soon after. Four further birdies put G-Mac in a strong position. He isn’t resting on his halfway laurels, though, expecting someone to “shoot seven or eight under par” today.
Ian Poulter’s the other Brit on the leaderboard, but he’s not having nearly as good a time. Tied on third bottom of the 18-strong lineup, the Ryder Cup success story ended the second day on one over par. The order of the pair was the same in last week’s European Tour finale, the DP World Championship in Dubai.
I don’t entirely subscribe to the idea of this World Challenge, a invitational competition hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation. The concept is admirable, raising money to help cure cancer in children. Then again, one look at the programme for the tournament gives a few pages too many to the indulgence of Woods and his associates. The focus should be on the aiding the needy, not on a former great. All hosted events come across as the same, it’s not unique to this one, but I don’t see the need for it.
It’s quite refreshing that McDowell is on course to win the event he first claimed in 2010 and could reclaim the title from – who else but – Tiger Woods. Whether he wins or fails tremendously, McDowell is taking a ten week break to spend time with his family before a hectic 2013 that culminates in an even longer European Tour than usual. It feels odd to say, but next year begins the Olympic cycle for these debut Olympians! With all the focus on whether Rory McIlroy will represent Great Britain or Ireland, McDowell’s part in all this has largely been forgotten. On current form, it’d better be Britain – but I won’t pretend there aren’t more likely medal hopes.