The Hero World Challenge 2014 Preview

The Hero World Challenge | Thursday 04 December - Sunday 07 December | Isleworth Golf & Country Club

This week golf fans are in for a treat as the Nedbank Golf Challenge, always a firm favourite amongst our punters, and the Hero World Challenge, another world class tournament, are both scheduled to tee off on Thursday. For the Hero World Challenge a small, elite field will head to Isleworth Golf and Country Club in a bid to outdo Tiger Woods in what has become his tournament over the years. In the past this feat has proven difficult to accomplish with Tiger managing five wins in the last fifteen years. Impressively, he’s also managed six second place finishes. Say what you will about Tiger, that kind of tournament form is going to be tough to ignore and if this field want to beat him it’s going to take some doing.

Traditionally the tournament has been hosted at Sherwood Country Club but this time around it will be played in Florida at the difficult Isleworth Golf and Country Club. This par 72 7,540 yard course plays long and was designed by Arnold Palmer, although in 2003 it underwent significant changes at the hands of Steve Smyers. It’s also the course that Tiger Woods shot a 59 on in 1997 when he played against Mark O’Meara. As impressive as that is, keep in mind that since then the course has undergone significant changes. According to Tiger’s former coach Hank Haney, Tiger still knows the layout well though and could come out on top this week if all goes to plan.

With all that in mind Tiger does look an attractive option at 14/1 but I’m going to be looking for value elsewhere. Whether or not Tiger can win depends entirely on how well he has recovered and I can’t justify backing him until I’ve seen what shape his game is in after his surgery. For those of you not as cautious as me, the information provided makes him an attractive bet this week. Do with it what you will.

To Win Outright
Henrik Stenson  11/2
Justin Rose  7/1
Bubba Watson  8/1
Jordan Spieth  17/2
Rickie Fowler  10/1

Keegan Bradley (30/1 a win, 6/1 a place)
To kick things off I’m going to have a cautious each way bet on Keegan Bradley. A solid striker of the ball, Bradley should have no problem dealing with the length of this course. He’s also won at Firestone which provides players with a similar challenge to that which they will face here, in that it plays long and demands exceptional course management across all eighteen holes. Whilst he is inconsistent, Bradley thrives in tough conditions and it doesn’t get much more difficult than this. Each way here is the bet for me.

Graeme McDowell (12/1 a win, 24/10 a place)
If you ignore Tiger’s tournament form, the next best player across all instalments of this tournament has been Graeme McDowell. Since 2009 he has only finished outside the Top 5 once and has won twice. Those victories came in 2009 and 2012, neither version of which was hosted at this course, but his current form is good enough to justify an each way bet on the Northern Irishman. A third in the HSBC Champions in China was his best finish recently; if he can replicate that form here he’ll go far.

Patrick Reed (33/1 a win, 66/10 a place)
Patrick Reed annoyed European golf fans when he got up to his usual tricks during the Ryder Cup this year and he annoyed the entire golfing fraternity when he declared himself to be one of the top five players in the world. However, he didn’t annoy golf punters who backed him when he won at Doral this year and he’ll be a bit of a hero if he makes us some money again this week. He’s a fantastic golfer who will continue to develop over the next few years and is definitely worth following for a while. 33/1 looks a large price; get on while that is still available.

TOP BET: Matt Kuchar (18/1 a win,
36/10 a place)

It’s difficult to find a top bet in a field of this calibre but in terms of value it seems like Matt Kuchar offers the most. He’s in some of the best form of his career at the moment and already has one victory under his belt this year, that coming at the RBC Heritage a few months ago. He’s also managed two Top 5s here in recent years and his best finish came in 2013 when he finished third. Hopefully he’ll go one better this week and emerge victorious. Each way on Kuchar is the bet for me.

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