Tiger Woods finishes second to Jason Day at Japan Skins event

CHIBA, Japan -- In keeping with the mood of the day, nothing was too serious Monday at The Challenge: Japan Skins, where Jason Day walked off with $210,000 and the victory, and nobody seemed too upset about it.

Back in the day, The Skins Game was an annual Thanksgiving weekend golf treat in an era of "silly season'' events that attracted some of the top names in the sport. Tiger Woods played in it six times -- and never won -- a point that Day was sure to hammer home afterward.

"He hasn't won one yet, so I've got that on him, which is good,'' Day said. "I found that out today when he told me. But this is nice, the back and forth was great, it was nice and clean and it was within the game, and I think the guys had fun out there.''

That was sort of the idea of the four-player event that was built around Woods' appearance this week in the first PGA Tour event to be played in Japan.

Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Day joined Woods at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club for the event that sold out its ticket allotment of 3,000, with the final two holes played under makeshift lighting due to darkness. All will play in the Zozo Championship that starts here Thursday.

As part of a sponsorship deal Woods has with GolfTV, the event was streamed around the world, offering a $350,000 purse with the first six holes worth $10,000 apiece, the next six $15,000 apiece, then $20,000 for holes 13 through 17 with $100,000 on the line at the 18th.

That kind of money is chump change for these guys, who were paid undisclosed appearance fees for their participation. Perhaps that helped keep the mood light and the golf not too serious.

In the Skins Game format, a player must win the hole outright to collect the prize, and if there are ties the money carries over.

Day saved his best for last, winning the 17th hole when McIlroy missed a short birdie putt to tie him. Day then won the 18th when Woods left short a 10-foot birdie putt, making Day the big winner. He won a total of eight skins.

Woods was next with six skins and $60,000, while McIlroy also won $60,000 for his five skins. Matsuyama won one skin and earned $20,000.

It was the first competitive appearance for Woods since he tied for 37th at the BMW Championship in August and then had knee surgery.

And for a time, he didn't look good. Woods needed a few holes to get sorted before finally getting on the board when he parred the par-5 3rd hole -- the other three players all hit their tee shots in the water.

"I did not play well at the beginning,'' Woods said. "I hit a lot of bad shots and did not putt well. Once I got into the flow of competing and feeling the round, it just got exciting. We were competitive, the banter was great, the back and forth.''

The event had a couple of unique features. Many golf courses in Japan have two greens per hole that are alternated by day or time of year. On the fourth hole Monday, the players were able to choose which one they wanted to play.

On the seventh hole, the group was joined by four rugby players in a scramble format. And at the 14th hole, a par-5, each of the four players was required to play with just a single club, which forced Day into hitting a greenside bunker shot with a 6-iron -- that he managed to get up and down for a par.

"It was just great to be part of something like this,'' McIlroy said. "It was a fun way to kick off the week.''