World Champions Cup tees off for first time in Bradenton

The morning was filled with smiles, pictures and celebratory cigar smoke at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton on the eve of the inaugural World Champions Cup.

"Exciting. It's just such an exciting time for us," said Team USA captain Jim Furyk.

The three-day event will pit golfers from the Champions Tour, PGA Tour and DP World Tour against one another in a USA, versus Europe, versus International team format.

"It's a unique format and something we've never seen in the world of golf," said tournament chairman Peter Jacobson.

"The competition is what we're here for; The US vs International vs Europe."

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Since many in the World Champions Cup have experience playing for and winning Ryder and President's Cups, the itch to return to international competition never went away.

"It brings back some memories for me playing in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups against a lot of the folks that are out there now. Man, it kind of just got the juices flowing," Furyk said.

In addition to the match play on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, the World Champions Cup will also feature an all-abilities competition.

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Adaptive golfers from around the world will compete Thursday and Friday representing the same three teams, as well.

"I think every stage we can get on, if we can play well, show people our talent, showcase our talents, it's huge," said Team USA all-abilities golfer Kenny Bontz.

Luckily for Bontz, a golfer from down the road in Parrish, he didn't have to travel far to represent the Stars & Stripes.

"I'm expecting the U.S. to dominate on both sides," Bontz said.

"But I want everyone to have a great time and get this platform that we have to make it succeed."

And that is what the World Champions Cup is coming to represent, good golf and age-old rivalries.

"It's all fun and games until that first tee shot is hit, and then it gets serious," Jacobson said.

And it is their hope that the World Champions Cup is here to stay for years to come.