Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava joke around on the green at No. 4 on Wednesday… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)
The World Challenge, otherwise known as Tiger Woods' tournament, kicks off Thursday with Woods and 17 other players chasing a $4-million purse.
Woods is the defending champion of the four-day event at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, a tournament he has won five times and that benefits Woods' charities.
This year's field includes the winners of two of golf's four major tournaments: Masters champion Bubba Watson and U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson.
"It's an honor just to be here . . . and just shows that you've been doing the right stuff," Simpson said.
Also competing for the $1-million first prize are former World Challenge winners Jim Furyk, who won in 2009, and Graeme McDowell, who defeated Woods in a playoff to capture the event in 2010.
It has been three years since Woods' golf career and personal life began unraveling with a Thanksgiving night car accident in front of his Florida home. That prompted Woods to skip the World Challenge in 2009 as a scandal over his extramarital affairs unfolded.
Woods also endured some injuries and changed his swing, but he has had a resurgence that began with his victory at the World Challenge a year ago. He went on to win three PGA Tour tournaments this year.
"I'm very excited because last year at this point in time I was still not quite where I wanted to be physically," Woods said. "I've played a full schedule for the first time in a very long time, and just very pleased with what I've done overall with my game. But obviously there's always things we need to work on."
Two players not in the World Challenge are the top two players in the world golf rankings, Rory McIlroy — whose standout season included winning the PGA Championship — and Luke Donald, respectively. Woods is ranked third.
Sherwood is a par-72 course designed by Jack Nicklaus that stretches 7,023 yards at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The World Challenge field is divided into nine pairings of two golfers each, with the first pair teeing off each day shortly after 9 a.m.