NEW YORK (AFP) – Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Australian star Jason Day and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama will compete in a Skins Game next month in Japan, organisers announced on Thursday.
‘The Challenge: Japan Skins’ will pit 15-time major winner Woods against McIlroy, Matsuyama and Day as top stars from four continents on October 21 at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan.
“There are so many fun elements to ‘The Challenge’ that will have me wanting to take home that title – playing with Hideki on his home turf, Tiger coming back to Japan with a green jacket – the motivation is certainly there for me,” said four-time major winner McIlroy.
“I’m a huge fan of the skins format. I love the way it rewards attacking play and think it suits my game quite well. Any time I can go directly at pins to try and make birdies and eagles, I think it puts me at an advantage.”
“The other fun thing about skins is how you find yourself rooting for the other guys if you’re not in a position to win the hole. You’re hoping they can tie with someone else so you can play for that skin on the next hole. With the skins format, you’re always in it until the end.”
The Skins Game will mark the competitive return to Japan for Woods after more than 13 years and the first televised exhibition match for McIlroy, Day and Matsuyama.
“I haven’t been back to Japan since 2006 and the golf fans there are some of the best in the world,” Woods said. “It’s a unique format and a top field with Rory, Jason and Hideki. I can’t wait to play against them on a global stage.
“I haven’t played a skins format in quite some time, so it will be fun to try something a little different and add a few strategic elements as we compete. There has already been some friendly banter between us and that will continue until we get to the first tee.”
The event, set to finish under floodlights, launches a week of activities at the course that features the Zozo Championship, the first-ever official US PGA Tour event to be played in Japan.
Holes increase in monetary value as the event continues, with prize money accumulating when two or more players share the low score on a hole. A player must win the hole outright to take the “skin” – the prize money at a particular hole.
Matsuyama will have a home crowd edge but expects Japanese golf fans to cheer on his rivals as well.
“I’ll be grateful for all the support from the fans in Japan, but with the popularity of Tiger, Rory and Jason, I know they’ll also be strongly supported wherever they play,” Matsuyama said.
“It’s amazing to have these great champions playing in Japan.”