Preview: Northwestern Mutual World Challenge

Golfmagic previews the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods.

Preview: Northwestern Mutual World Challenge

TIGER WOODS is looking to land his sixth Northwestern Mutual World Challenge title at Sherwood Country Club in California this week.

The World No.1 won this event in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011, and heads a strong field including reigning champion Graeme McDowell.

"It's the deepest and strongest field that we've had possibly ever," said Woods. "It's going to be a great week, one that everyone is going to enjoy. I'm really looking forward to it."

All 18 players are in the top 30 of the world rankings, although British duo Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter could provide the strongest challenge to Woods.

McIlroy, fresh from his first win of the season at the Australian Open, looks to have returned to form after a disappointing year, while Englishman Poulter took eventual Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson right down to the wire after an impressive end-of-season run of form.

Another Englishman looking to find some form is Lee Westwood, who has slipped down the rankings to 24th this year.

"Sherwood is a lovely place to come to, and California this time of the year is a great place to play," Westwood said.

"There only being 18 players, you know you have to be at the top of the world rankings to play in the event."

But every man in the field is worthy of his place, as demonstrated by the fact that nine of the 18 have won at least one major title, and the field boasts 25 in total.

PGA Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson will both tee it up after Brandt Snedeker pulled out with an injury and Ernie Els withdrew to play on the European Tour in South Africa this week to be with his family.

And Spieth said he was delighted to be playing alongside the best players in the world, even if it was only down to Snedeker's misfortune. 

"I'm very excited, I got in by an unfortunate way, I guess," said 20-year-old Spieth. "Obviously, we're wishing the best to Brandt to be healthy.

"This is actually the second time he's let me into an event. He let me into the [2012] U.S. Open back at Olympic Club, so I owe him a Christmas present.

"I was very, very excited to get the call that I was in here and I needed to get my game ready quickly, because I was a little rusty."

Field in full: Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods.

Northwestern Mutual World Challenge

Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, California

December 5-8

The course
Par 72; 7,027 yards

$3.5m (£2.1m), Winner: $1m (£611,000)

Defending champion
Graeme McDowell (-17)

Tournament records
Most wins: 5 (Tiger Woods 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011)
Lowest score: -22 (Davis Love III 2000, Tiger Woods 2007)

Did you know?

Tiger Woods has won five of his 12 appearances in this tournament and been a runner-up a further four times.

Tiger Woods – 5/2
Rory McIlroy – 6/1
Graeme McDowell – 10/1
Dustin Johnson – 16/1
Ian Poulter – 14/1
Webb Simpson – 18/1
Steve Stricker – 14/1
Jason Day – 16/1
Matt Kuchar – 16/1
Zach Johnson – 20/1
Jordan Spieth – 22/1
Keegan Bradley – 22/1
Jim Furyk – 16/1
Lee Westwood – 22/1

Odds courtesy of 888sport

Live coverage
Thursday: Sky Sports 4 - Red Button (8pm)
Friday: Sky Sports 4 (8pm)
Saturday: Sky Sports 4 (6pm)
Sunday: Sky Sports 4 (6pm)

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