It has proven so popular that the World Series of Golf was brought back for its third annual five-day golf extravaganza. The specialized poker-style golf tournament ended on May 15 with a professional poker player from Raleigh, North Carolina by the name of Jody Garaventa taking the ultimate victory and $300,000 first prize.
The tournament began on May 11 with 125 players paying the $10K buy-in to play the event at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. With sponsorship by Full Tilt Poker, the format of the tournament was similar to a poker game in that groups of players competing in rounds that consisted of betting and raising the wagers on each tee. The player with the most points proceeded to the next round, while those who lost all of their betting chips in any one round were eliminated from the tournament. Poker players had a distinct advantage in knowing how and when to bet, raise, or call in accordance with their own golf skills in comparison to those of their opponents.
Players came from around the country to participate, and well-known poker players like Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, David Benyamine, Gavin Smith, and David Oppenheim were amongst them. Actor Ray Romano and former Major League Baseball pitcher Greg Maddux were also listed as participants. Ultimately, the last day of action saw the final five compete for about eight hours to find a winner.
After the eliminations of Mexican soccer star Jorge Campos, KJ Fohannesen, and David Morton from the top five, the last two players left standing were Kevin Dumont and Jody Garaventa, and the two made it through two playoff holes before Garaventa pushed through to victory, which was worth a prize of $300K and the title of World Series of Golf champion.
The 33-year old Garaventa told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after his win: “I’d been practicing nine months with this event in mind. It was probably the most nerve-racking thing I’ve done in my life.”
The festivities of the 2009 World Series of Golf were filmed by a WGN America camera crew for broadcast in June. The 13 one-hour episodes are schedule to air on June 27 and 28 with encore episodes set for September 19 and 20.