The WGC Championship was an event co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour and European Tour. It was the first of the World Golf Championship Tournaments each season, followed by the WGC Matchplay, WGC St. Jude Invitational and the WGC HSBC Champions.
Ahead of the 2021/22 season it was decided to reduce the WGC events from four to two. The WGC Championship and St. Jude Invitational were dropped leaving the WGC Matchplay and the WGC HSBC Champions as the sole WGC tournaments.
This tournament was first played in 1999 as the WGC-American Express Championship at Valderrama in Spain, switching to Doral in Florida between 2007 and 2016 as the WGC-CA Championship at first and then the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The move to Mexico and Chapultepec occurred in 2017, renamed as the WGC-Mexico Championship. The 2021 tournament was played in Florida once again as the WGC Workday Championship at The Concession Golf Club due to travel restrictions at the time.
The WGC tournaments each paid $10.5 million in prize money, making them more valuable that the European Tour’s Rolex Series and only bettered by the four Majors and the Players Championship. As a result the competing field was as strong as any event in the year.
Tiger Woods was the tournament’s most successful player, winning six titles. Five of those victories came in just eight editions between 1999 and 2007.
|The Concession Golf Club||Concession Golf Course||7,474 Yards||$10,500,000|
WGC Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin||Course|
|2021||Collin Morikawa||-18||3 Strokes||The Concession Golf Club|
|2020||Patrick Reed||-18||1 Stroke||Club de Golf Chapultepec|
|2019||Dustin Johnson||-21||5 Strokes||Club de Golf Chapultepec|
|2018||Phil Mickelson||-16||Playoff||Club de Golf Chapultepec|
|2017||Dustin Johnson||-14||1 Stroke||Club de Golf Chapultepec|
|2016||Adam Scott||-12||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2015||Dustin Johnson||-9||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2014||Patrick Reed||-4||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2013||Tiger Woods||-19||2 Strokes||Trump National Doral|
|2012||Justin Rose||-16||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2011||Nick Watney||-16||2 Strokes||Trump National Doral|
|2010||Ernie Els||-18||4 Strokes||Trump National Doral|
|2009||Phil Mickelson||-19||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2008||Geoff Ogilvy||-17||1 Stroke||Trump National Doral|
|2007||Tiger Woods||-10||2 Strokes||Trump National Doral|
|2006||Tiger Woods||-23||8 Strokes||The Grove|
|2005||Tiger Woods||-10||Playoff||Harding Park|
|2004||Ernie Els||-18||1 Stroke||Mount Juliet Hotel & Golf Course|
|2003||Tiger Woods||-6||2 Strokes||Capital City Golf Club|
|2002||Tiger Woods||-25||1 Stroke||Mount Juliet Hotel & Golf Course|
About the WGC Championship
The idea behind the World Golf Championships was to allow the best players from around the world to compete against one another more frequently than at just the major championships. The nature of golf changed significantly since the WGC’s introduction in 1999 with the PGA Tour and European Tours looking more like international tours with every passing year but there is still a clamour for world class golf to be spread wider than its usual heartlands.
The fact that three of the four WGC events took place in America was a bone of contention for many, hence the decision to move the WGC Cadillac Championship from Doral, Florida to the outskirts of Mexico City and rebrand it to the WGC Mexico Championship. It was in many ways a controversial move and certainly contentiously timed.
In June 2016, as Donald Trump was pledging to build a wall between Mexico and the US in his bid to become President, the PGA Tour announced the tournament would be heading south of the boarder. Given Trump owns Doral, the previous host venue, many felt it was a political move by the PGA but Trump accepted it graciously (!), saying “I hope they have kidnapping insurance.”
An International Past
Whilst the Donald may not have been overjoyed, the move to Mexico City was generally greeted positively by golf fans and players as it broadened the horizons of a tournament which used to be routed in internationalism, as per the original hopes of the World Golf Championships.
Originally founded as the WGC American Express Championship, the first two editions of this tournament were held in the highly respected Valderrama Golf Club, which also hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup, in Andalusia, Spain. The 2001 renewal was due to be moved to Bellerive Country Club in Missouri but was cancelled due to the September 11th attacks.
The WGC American Express Championship did finally take place in America when Tiger Woods won in 2003 but not before being hosted by Mount Juliet in Ireland. Mount Juliet hosted again in 2004 before a return to America courtesy of Harding Park, California. The final edition of the tournament before it set up a more permanent home at Doral, Florida, took place in 2006 at The Grove in Hertfordshire, England.
Moving the tournament around different countries every year added an extra level of excitement and intrigue for golf fans but it was another piece of complexity that the world’s best golfers could do without. The chance to set up a routine with the event’s move to Doral was welcomed, especially by players who had become fed up of travelling around the world only to finish behind Tiger Woods.
Woods was really in his pomp during the early stages of the WGC American Express Championship, winning the tournament six times inside its first 10 years. Incredibly those wins each came at a different golf course (see table below) which really hammers home just how dominant Woods was at this point.
Tiger Woods Tournament Wins
|Mount Juliet, Ireland||2002|
|Capital City Club, Georgia||2003|
|TPC Harding Park, California||2005|
|The Grove, England||2006|
|Doral, Florida||2007, 2013|
Over the years we had a number of multiple champions but nobody could get close to Woods’ total of seven wins in this tournament. Dustin Johnson, winner in 2015, 2017 and 2019, was the best of the rest.
Reed Ignores the Critics
Patrick Reed was never going to be the most popular golfer in the world. The American was already a controversial figure (to put it lightly) with European golf fans for his role as chief antagoniser for the American Ryder Cup team and had even fallen out with members of his own team during that tournament, but his stock was particularly low at the start of the 2020 WGC Mexico Championship.
Just a matter of weeks before the start of the tournament, Reed had been caught improving his lie when in a sand waste area. He denied the allegations of cheating that would come his way but the vast majority of people in the game and golf fans knew what they saw. Even fellow American, Brooks Koepka, said that Reed must have known what he was doing.
Whatever you think of Reed as a character, you cannot help but be impressed by his competitive spirit. Despite all the hullabaloo surrounding him and what must have been constant awkward encounters with his fellow pros, Reed somehow managed to block it all out to win the fourth edition of the WGC Mexico Championship since it moved to the outskirts of Mexico City.
Reed’s win made it four straight wins for American golfers in Mexico and it wasn’t just nationality that he shared with the other winners. Reed, in common with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, had previously won the tournament when it was hosted at Doral, meaning that there wasn’t a player who had succeeded in Mexico that hadn’t previously won this tournament at Doral. Collin Morikawa was a first time winner in 2021 though that tournament took place in Florida.
Who Tees it Up in the WGC Events?
The four WGC events had slightly different structures and qualifying criteria but in order to earn the right to play at the Club de Golf Chapultepec you need to:
- Be in the top 50 in the world rankings
- Or be in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings
- Or the top 20 from the European Tour
- Or the top two from the Asian, Sunshine, Australian or Japanese Tours
The highest ranked Mexican player (not otherwise qualified) also got a spot, with spare places, should there be any, filled by the highest-ranked non-qualified players (based on the Official World Golf Ranking a week before the tournament). Easy, right?
Sudden Death Events
The WGC Mexico was a stroke play event and there is no cut, so all 72 players competed for all 72 holes. A sudden death play-off was used in the event of a tie and despite a huge number of very close tournaments there were just three play-offs.
- 1999 Tiger Woods Wins – beats local favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez in inaugural event
- 2005 Tiger Woods Wins (Again!) – beats John Daly in play-off
- 2018 Phil Mickleson Wins – Justin Thomas the unlucky man
Aside from those three ties, the winning margin had been just one shot with amazing frequency. If you wanted to bet on the margin of victory the following stats were well worth noting, based on the 22 editions of this tournament between 1999 and 2021:
- Play-off, 3 Times
- 1 Shot, 10 Times
- 2 Shots, 5 Times
- 3 Shots, 1 Time
- 4 Shots, 1 Time
- 5 Shots, 1 Time
- 8 Shots, 1 Time