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Tiger Woods was on hand Tuesday in Mexico as, for the first time, a course he designed opened for play.
El Cardonal opened at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, the second course at the residential resort, alongside a Davis Love III design, called the Dunes Course, that's already ranked among the best courses in the world. Woods' course is a contrast to Love's links-inspired design along the Mexican coast. The 14-time major winner borrowed from his California roots in designing this course.
Woods' aim with El Cardonal, named after the ranch that previously occupied the property and not some variation on his alma mater Stanford Cardinal, was to be challenging for superior players but enjoyable for anyone. That means angles play a big role in scoring well, but wide fairways and openings to the green from the fairway make the course playable for any skill level. It's a reflection of Woods' attention -- what could be called an obsession -- with what he calls "lines," knowing the angles to best attack holes.
While it plays 7,300 yards from the championship tees, El Cardonal has five tee box options to keep any player engaged throughout the round.
"I designed El Cardonal at Diamante to make you think," Woods said. "You must be willing to weigh risks and make smart choices. Proper strategy will provide the best opportunity to score. The biggest compliment I can receive after you play my course is that you want to play it again."
Dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean and Sierra de la Laguna mountains will certainly keep Diamante residents coming back for more, but, for most, they'll never touch El Cardonal. They won't have much luck, either, with Woods' first design in the U.S. to open. Bluejack National, near Houston, is a total Woods redesign of the course formerly on the property and will be a fully private residential community and golf club.
Nevertheless, El Cardonal represents a big win for Woods' firm, representing the first time one of his designs went all the way from conception to open.
In 2006, Woods was commissioned (and reportedly paid $50 million) for his first design, Al-Ruwaya in Dubai. However, the global financial crisis hit the United Arab Emirates, leading to the project's halt in 2009 and indefinite suspension in 2011. Woods was also hired to design a course for The Cliffs development in North Carolina, but the project stalled long ago. The same was true of another Woods course slated to open in Mexico.
El Cardonal represented a second chance for Woods to share his vision in Mexico. Woods will get another crack on what amounts to the same plot of land in Dubai, as well. He'll be designing Trump World Golf Club, Dubai, as part of a rekindled effort to develop the same property where his first design was to debut.