November 29, 2017
Get to know the Hero World Challenge field
- Claims he’d be a pro tennis player, if not a pro golfer. Father, Jay, is the director of men’s tennis for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), was head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic tennis team, and has served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Davis Cup and Olympic tennis teams.
- Floridian did not play high school golf, yet was the state’s top-ranked golfer among his graduating class in 2011. Was runner-up in the 2013 NCAA Individual Championships.
- Lists Chipotle as his favorite restaurant.
- Decorated collegiate career reached its climax in 2008 as he won the NCAA Division I individual and team championships with UCLA, was named Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year, won the annual Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins Awards as the nation’s best collegiate golfer, and played on the United States’ victorious Palmer Cup team that year.
- Volunteers time each year with the Special Olympics in his native Fresno, Calif. since he was 10 years of age. In 2012, he launched the Kevin Chappell Champion for Children’s Oncology Endowment, which raises money and awareness for the Valley Children’s Hospital’s (Madera, Calif.) oncology program in the greater Fresno area.
- Enjoys water-based activities such as boating and fishing.
- Englishman’s stellar early career includes winning the English Amateur, leaving his amateur career as No. 1 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings, and being top-ranked on the 2011 European Challenge Tour at age 20.
- Fowler’s first love is dirt-bike riding/motocross. He gave up serious dirt-bike riding prior to his freshman year in high school as he broken bones in his foot in a riding accident. His father, Rod, rode dirt bikes and won the 1986 Baja 1000 while racing for a Yamaha team.
- Member of the Golf Boys (with Ben Crane, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan), which produced several funny, musical videos that popularly went viral through social media.
- Developed close friendship with the late Arnold Palmer and considers Palmer as mentor in golf.
- First golfer to win the California state high school championship twice (in 1994 and 1995), and was a member of UNLV’s 1998 NCAA championship team alongside teammates-turned-PGA TOUR veterans Chris Riley, Chad Campbell, Bill Lunde and Adam Scott.
- San Diego native enjoys such native activities like the beach, water sports and barbecuing. His fans can sometimes be seen at PGA TOUR events wearing t-shirts that read, “Don’t Hassle The Hoff.”
- Basketball is his other sporting love, and it runs in the family. He first dunked a basketball in seventh grade. Grandfather Art Whisnant was a three-time All-ACC selection at South Carolina in the 1960s. His caddie and brother, Austin, was a starting guard at Charleston Southern.
- Has his own golf academy – Dustin Johnson Golf School – in Myrtle Beach, SC
- Has two children with fiancée and model Paulina Gretzky, daughter of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
- Aiken, SC native and resident won two high school state championships at South Aiken High School before moving on to Georgia, where he was the university’s first four-time All-American golfer and contributed to the Bulldogs’ 2005 NCAA championship.
- In 2016, established the Kevin & Brittany Kisner Foundation to introduce kids to golf and give them opportunities to play. Kisner is also involved with the First Tee of Aiken (South Carolina).
- The Hero World Challenge rookie is an outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing.
- Brother, Chase, is a professional golfer. The brothers teamed to finish T5 at the 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
- Unlike most American golfers on the PGA TOUR, he earned his TOUR card by playing overseas – first on the European Challenge Tour, and then the European Tour.
- Enjoys outdoor sporting activities such as basketball, soccer (what he calls “proper football”), table tennis and fishing.
- Is an avid and accomplished amateur tennis player who comes from a tennis-playing family. Wife, Sybi, was a standout tennis player at Georgia Tech, where they met. Matt & Sybi teamed in October 2009 to win the consolation title in the USTA National Husband/Wife Doubles Championship at the ATP’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Father, Peter, was ranked No. 1 amateur in men’s doubles at one time in the state of Florida.
- Involved with Camp Twin Lakes, a Georgia program for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges, as well as the Ronald McDonald House of Jacksonville.
- Was a student at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, Japan when the city was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, but was in Australia training at the time. Returned to find his dorm room destroyed and struggled to find food. A few weeks later, made his Masters debut after having won the Asian Amateur.
- Learning English and travels with his personal interpreter, Bob Turner, who started a company specializing in English-Japanese translation.
- The only Italian golfer on the PGA TOUR, he will become the first Italian to compete in the Hero World Challenge.
- Older brother, Edoardo, plays on the European Tour. The brothers teamed to win the 2009 OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup and the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, going 1-0-1 while partnering in foursomes and fourballs. Francesco beat Tiger Woods, 4 & 3, in Sunday Singles as Europe won the 2010 Ryder Cup by a point, then halved his Sunday Singles match with Woods at Medinah CC to clinch Europe’s comeback win over the U.S. in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
- Enjoys snowboarding and playing soccer, the sport in which he supports his hometown Inter Milan and, as a London resident, West Ham United.
- Dedicated himself to playing golf at age 8 and made his first hole-in-one at age 12. Left his native Sweden to play golf at Oklahoma State alongside Hunter Mahan and Pablo Martin.
- Has an affinity for fast cars and the Formula One circuit. Dreams of being an F1 driver.
- Wife, Justine, was his caddie in 2012 and 2013 and for parts of 2014 after Justine gave birth to the couple’s first baby in May 2014.
- Hosts an AJGA championship annually in The Woodlands, Texas.
- Won two high school state championships at University Lab School (Baton Rouge, La.) and won back-to-back NCAA championships at Augusta State University in 2010 and 2011.
- Resides full time at Albany, The Bahamas, and plays the Hero World Challenge on his ‘home course.’
- Became golf’s first Olympic champion since 1904 when he won the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while also recording the first hole-in-one in Olympic Golf.
- Placed T4 at the 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur. Turned pro the next day.
- He and wife, Kate, head up the Kate & Justin Rose Foundation, benefitting youth in Orlando, Fla.
- Involved with handicapped golfers. He is an ambassador for the Swedish Golf Federation’s Handigolf program and Handigolf Tour. Also, his Henrik Stenson Foundation awards an annual scholarship, Handigolfer of the Year, to encourage disabled golfers in their progress in golf and life in general.
- Recreational pursuits include deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and skiing. Took up golf at age 12.
- Comes from tight-knit family. Sister, Ellie, who has special needs, is his hero and inspiration.
- Despite being 24, has already set up the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation as a platform to lend time, awareness and financial assistance to special-needs youth, military families, junior golf and pediatric cancer.
- Has pro golf bloodlines. Father, Mike, is a PGA professional at Harmony Landing in Louisville, KY. Grandfather, Paul, was a 60-year member of the PGA of America.
- Collects golf balls from all of his wins for his father, Mike. Also an avid shoe collector.
- Won consecutive high school state golf titles in 2008-09 at St. Xavier (KY) and an NCAA title at Alabama in 2013. Huge Alabama football fan.
- Nicknamed “Tiger” after a Vietnamese soldier who was a friend of his father, Earl, during the Vietnam War.
- Five-time Hero World Challenge champion (2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011) and all-time event money leader ($9,608,667). He has put forth all his Hero World Challenge earnings to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
- Holds more PGA TOUR titles (79) and major championships (14) than any active golfer on any tour and ranks second all-time in each category.
- Off-the-course corporate portfolio includes The Woods Jupiter (Woods’ first restaurant in Jupiter, Fla.), TGR Live (Woods’ event management company which operates three PGA TOUR events) and TGR Design (which has opened El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Bluejack National outside Houston, Texas).