Tiger Woods confirmed Saturday at Sherwood Country Club that he contributed $4 million to what he called “bridged the gap” that was needed to help the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual meet its operating costs.
“I’m not going to tell you the exact amount, but it’s a good number,” Woods said in an interview after shooting a third-round 69 that put him five strokes back of tournament leader Graeme McDowell. But the Associated Press reported the figure at $4 million.
“What’s important is that if it wasn’t for this tournament, we wouldn’t have the success with the (Tiger Woods) foundation,” Wood said. “The Learning Center (in nearby Orange County) would not have happened. We wouldn’t have gained the awareness that we have now.
“There have been so many kids that we have helped, just because of this event. It’s important to me, to the foundation. This is what got us on the map.”
This tournament began in 1999, and was inspired in part by Woods’ late father, Earl. Although he now has an affiliation with the AT&T National in Washington, D.C., and the Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston, this is the tournament that Woods holds dear, said his agent, Mark Steinberg.
“He started this one with his father,” Steinberg said. “And he didn’t want to see the foundation take a hit in order to stage the tournament.”
Since its inception, the World Challenge has raised more than $25 million for the foundation. It helped Woods start his Learning Center — to which he contributed the first $5 million — as well as other endeavors in other parts of the country.
Woods has been contributing his prize money from the World Challenge, the AT&T National and the Deutsche Bank Championship to the foundation. He won the World Challenge last year and the AT&T over the summer, victories that were worth more than $1 million each. He’s contributed more than $14 million of his prize money alone over the years.
“It’s kind of a running joke with the foundation,” Woods said. “You better win the tournament because we’re kind of counting on this amount of donation. So it’s fun.”
Steinberg said a potential title sponsor fell through in the fall, leaving event organizers in a tough spot.
The tournament would have been forced to dip into reserve funds or possibly not be played if it were not for Woods’ support. And while the proceeds from the event are helpful, Woods said the exposure it brings to his charitable causes are also reasons for wanting to keep it going.
“It’s both, fundraising and awareness,” he said. “This provides us a platform to show people how we are helping kids. This is where it all started. We are a foundation, yes, but people really didn’t understand what we were trying to do. Once we built the Learning Center, because of this event, that allowed us to do that.”