PGA Tour: The Hero World Challenge Preview

Golfer lines up shot

We take a look at this week's Hero World Challenge taking place in Bahamas from 30 November - 3 December. 

Clearly the return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf will dwarf any other pithy attempt to preempt events here this week. Jordan Spieth could win the event in -40 and remain largely anonymous if Tiger tweaks his back once more. Such is the mythos of the game’s most famous player.

It is a limited invitation event, with 18 high class players teeing it up at the Ernie Els-designed Albany Course in the Bahamas. Tiger Woods actually played here a year ago. Bizarrely enough, he made more birdies than any other player en route to only finishing ahead of two players.

The Hero World Challenge | 30 November - 3 December | Albany, New Province, Bahamas

The Hero World Challenge was first staged at Greyhawk Golf Club in 1999. It moved to the Sherwood Country Club in 2000, where it remained for 14 years. It moved south to the Bahamas three years ago and we return to this course for the 3rd year in a row. While it may seem prodigious at 7,400 yards, five par fives will do that. It is an exposed, flat links-style course with imposing dunes that rise up to 30 feet high. Els himself envisages it as something of a hybrid between Royal Birkdale and Royal Melbourne.

It will be interesting to see just how the most compelling figure in world golf holds up. Jason Day says that he is hitting the ball wonderfully, but we have all heard these rumors before. Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama will be looking to get going after a slow end to last season. But with the likes of Thomas, Spieth and Johnson in attendance, it’s going to take something special to retain the title. Let’s hope that is Tiger’s return is an abject failure- which is possible- it doesn’t completely overshadow the world’s current elite.

Past Winners
2016: Hideki Matsuyama (-18)
2015: Bubba Watson (-25)
2014: Jordan Spieth (-26)
2013: Zach Johnson (-13)*playoff
2012: Graeme McDowell (-17)

To Win Outright
Justin Thomas 11/2, Jordan Spieth 6/1, Dustin Johnson 6/1, Ricky Fowler 8/1, Brooks Koepka 9/1

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Brooks Koepka- To Win 9/1, To Place 16/10
The current US Open Champion is clearly a contender giving the small field and current form. He hits it a mile and should relish the par fives. He finished in a tie for second at the WGC HSBC and followed that up with a victory in Japan two weeks ago. He doesn’t exactly boast the greatest course form imaginable: he has finished seventh and 13th in his previous appearances. But this has been a breakthrough year for the brooding American and he should really relish these course conditions.

Kevin Kisner- To Win 22/1, To Place 39/10
The ‘Georgia Bulldog’, as he is affectionately known, will be making his first appearance at the event this week and represents great value at this price. Considering the fact that the course is played by the sea and could be wind affected, Kisner’s accuracy and ability on Bermuda greens could be a factor this week. Kisner is hugely motivated to make it onto the Ryder Cup team next year after featuring so prominently in the rout of the International side in the President’s Cup. He may not be endowed with the same power as Koepka or Johnson, but Kisner should revel if the wind picks up.

Charley Hoffman- To Win 33/1, To Place 59/10
The ever-enigmatic Hoffman is my pick towards the doldrums of the betting markets. But to be fair, the mysterious Hoffman has lost something of his mystique with a far more consistent season. He picked up six top 20 finishes in a season that saw him reach a career high world ranking of 20. He should do well on a course where his tremendous scrambling abilities will go down well.

The Man to Beat- Hideki Matsuyama- To Win 11/1, To Place 39/10
The defending champion was resplendent last season, using that fierce power to maximum effect to tame the course- in particular the par fives. Added to that, his odds look exceptionally reasonable following a minor slump towards the end of the season. He has had seven top 10’s this year, including two wins and two runner-up finishes. Despite the disappointment of not closing out at the PGA, Matsuyama has had a quality year and returns to a course he absolutely decimated last year.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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