MIAMI — There's a lot of "World" in the newest of the World Golf Championships, the CA Championship at Doral Resort in Miami this week, and that's just in the media dining room.
Lunch was an Asian spread, sesame noodles, egg rolls and steamed vegetables, but the late afternoon snack was Middle Eastern: baba ghanoush (quite tasty), tabbouleh, mixed olives, hummus and crostinis.
Then there's the field. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are playing in the same tournament for the fourth time this year, and don't forget Vijay Singh, who's won twice this year and is the hottest player in the game after capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the weekend. Ernie Els likes Doral and has won here, but he hasn't shown much this year.
Ah, but there's also a glut of tongue twisters on the range. Suffice it to say that the hefty Thai pro Prom Meesawat set off a veritable Google-storm in the media room. Turns out he's a 22-year-old Asian Tour player whose nickname is the "Big Dolphin," which might play pretty well in Miami.
As one of the WGC events, the CA Championship features the top 50 in the World Ranking plus the money leaders from the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA, Australia PGA and Sunshine (South Africa) Tour.
Some of the players admit that they're not exactly household names.
"It has been a great privilege just getting into this tournament," said Anton Haig, who is not the former U.S. Secretary of State but a long-hitting, 20-year-old South African who has won twice on the Asian Tour, once three weeks ago.
Then again, many U.S. players aren't household names to the international pros. South African Charl Schwartzel was asked what he knew about Charley Hoffman, with whom Schwartzel will play Thursday and Friday.
"Not much," Schwartzel said. "That he's got long hair."
And what about Honda Classic champion Mark Wilson? He was unknown even on the PGA Tour until three weeks ago, making him the American answer to Haig.
"I wouldn't recognize Mark Wilson," Schwartzel admitted.
The get-to-know-me vibe is only one of the elements that make this week's tournament unique. There are far fewer players, 73 as opposed to a full field of 156 or even an invitational of 120. They're playing for more FedEx Cup points, 4,725 to the winner, up from the usual 4,500, and 26,250 overall, up from the usual 25,000.
Then there's this gem: Woods has attempted to defend many titles, but this is the only week he's tried to defend two at the same time.
The CA Championship used to be the American Express Championship, which was played at The Grove in Hertfordshire, England, late last season. Doral's Ford Championship, played early in the season, dropped off the schedule, leaving the CA Championship to ink a four-year deal at Doral, and Woods to try to defend two titles at once. (Not to go out on a limb, but it says here he will.)
This tournament has traveled almost as many miles as the players the last eight years, bouncing from Valderrama, Spain, in 1999 and 2000 to Kilkenny, Ireland, in 2002 and 2004. It stopped over in Woodstock, Georgia, apropos of nothing, in 2003, and was not played in 2001 because of September 11. Now that it's in Miami, every "World" Golf Championship event is in the United States, leaving little doubt about which of the six sanctioning tours is pulling the strings. It's an issue that Ernie Els, among others, has raised with some displeasure.
But hey, at least there's baba ghanoush.