WGN network to showcase the World Series of Golf on TV

LAS VEGAS - It's showtime for the 2009 version of the World Series of Golf.

09 World Series of Golf Champion Jody Garaventa
A competition requiring both golf skills and betting savvy, the World Series of Golf is one of the most intriguing events on TV.
09 World Series of Golf Champion Jody GaraventaWorld Series of Golf - David Morton

And unlike other years, this one comes with a twist. You'll get the chance to tune in for 13 straight weeks on cable TV giant WGN and follow the action from start to finish. (Check out www.worldseriesofgolf.com or click here for air times).

The three-day event was held in May at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. It's the third year for the event, and this year's winner, North Carolina poker pro Jody Garaventa, outlasted a full field of 125 players to claim the $300,000 top prize.

It was no walk in the park to win this year's event. The field featured top-flight golfers, entertainers (actor Ray Romano among others), poker players (Daniel Negreanu, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Phil Ivey and others) and athletes (including future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux who was sponsored by LasVegasGolf.com) all with eyes on the top prize.

The World Series of Golf format

The format weaves together the skill of playing golf and the savvy of poker betting perfectly and requires players to ante before each tee shot. Prior to subsequent shots, players wager on whether they still feel they can win the hole. Hit it in the water and you're likely to fold. Find the middle of the fairway and you're more likely to stay in until the next bet. It's a simple format: lose your $10,000 entry fee and you are gone. Outplay and outbid 124 other players and you're the champ, earning bragging rights for the next year.

Garaventa, Kevin Dumont, KJ Fohannesen, David Morton and Jorge Campos all survived the first two days of the event setting up a five-man shootout for the crown in this year's event.

Fifth-place finisher Campos tripled his money and walked away with $30,000. Fourth place went to Morton and he collected $40,000. Third place and the $50,000 went to Fohannesen leaving Garaventa and Dumont to fight it out for the crown.

Garaventa wound up winning on the second playoff hole as both he and Dumont ($100,000 for finishing second) had money left in their accounts following 18 holes. Garaventa joins Andrew "AJ" Johnson (2007) and Mark Ewing (2006) as event champions.

"I kept giving myself chances and in the end it paid off," Garaventa told LasVegasGolf.com after his victory. "But it was a tough road to get here. I played smart, solid golf."

While a poker pro won out, it was the format of the event that has Terry Leiweke, president of the World Series of Golf, looking at bigger and better things for the future of the tournament.

"This method of play and the business opportunity it has afforded us is much larger than I first envisioned," Leiweke said.

Leiweke also added that the format is becoming a big deal for more and more players.

"It's becoming more apparent that people are taking the game serious," Leiweke said. "Almost to a man, they can tell you every bet they made and why they made it. There's a lot of strategy involved."

And now you'll get the chance to check out these strategies first-hand as WGN shows the event starting this weekend.

Do you have what it takes to compete? Whether it's the golf skills or betting savvy, Leiweke and his crew hope you'll tune in to see one of the most intriguing events on TV. Then he's hoping the bug hits you and, like the poker boom, you become intrigued and look into signing up for next year.

In fact, like the World Series of Golf itself, he's betting on it.

 
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