PGA Tour: Hero World Challenge Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot


Our golf writer previews the Hero World Challenge taking place at the Albany Course in the Bahamas.


Hero World Challenge | 29 November - 2 December Albany Course, New Provence

The Hero World Challenge is a limited field event that features 18 of the world’s best golfers. It is something of a glorified epilogue to the PGA Tour Season and it’s perhaps unsurprising that many in attendance may be in wind-down mode this week. The event was first staged in 1999 at Greyhawk Golf Club. It migrated California-side a year later, with Sherwood Country Club hosting the event for the next 14 years. After a brief stint at Isleworth Golf and Country Club, the event made the substantial move to the Bahamas and the Ernie Els-designed Albany Course.

The Albany Course was opened as recently as 2010 and will be hosting this for the fourth consecutive year. As designed by one of the greatest exponents of links-style golf in living memory, Albany certainly shares a touch of DNA with the links-style courses that Els played so successfully. This exposed, flat, links-style course features dunes that rise as high as 30 feet. The fairways are extremely generous while the greens should prove quite firm. There should be quite formidable winds on Saturday, but a field of this class will still be expected to go quite low. The course is fairly unique as a par 72, with five par 5’s in circulation. Par 5 scoring could prove vital this week.

Justin Rose perhaps justifiably leads the markets this week, but he won’t be the name on everyone’s lips. Tiger Woods returns to familiar surrounds and will clearly be the drawcard this week, especially after claiming that season-ending Tour Championship title. It was here last season that Woods started to hint at his remarkable return to the upper echelons of the game. It will be interesting to see how he copes following that rather gimmicky event with Phil Mickelson last week. Elsewhere the likes of Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas highlight the quality of this 18 man event.

Past Winners
2017: Ricky Fowler (-18)
2016: Hideki Matsuyama (-18)
2015: Bubba Watson (-25)
2014: Jordan Spieth (-26)
2013: Zach Johnson (-13)*playoff

To Win Outright: 
Justin Rose 7/1 | Dustin Johnson 8/1 | Ricky Fowler 9/1 | Tiger Woods 9/1 | Justin Thomas 9/1

Value Bets

Tony Finau- To Win 16/1, To Place 51/20
Tony Finau will be teeing it up here for the first time after a stellar season on tour. Still frustratingly marooned on a solo PGA Tour title, Finau managed a slew of runner-up finishes this season. That included a rather painful defeat at the recent WGC HSBC event. Finau was the only player in the world to finish inside the top 10 of the first three Majors of the year. Finau seems to be a perennial contender and just needs to get that one victory to relieve himself of the bridesmaid’s tag.  Finau topped the PGA Tour last season for Par 5 scoring, which should prove vital in separating the professionals this week. 

Bubba Watson- To Win 28/1, To Place 44/10
The always colourful Bubba Watson has enjoyed a brilliant 2018 that saw him welcomed back into the Ryder Cup fold. Watson claimed three victories on tour and seemed to iron out most of the kinks that had threatened to derail his game completely. He won here on debut in 2015 and managed a sixth place two years ago. On both occasions he was able to shoot a 63. Bubba is the type of idiosyncratic player who just takes to certain courses- just look at Augusta. He clearly thrives with the generous give off the tee and ultra-firm greens.

The Man to Beat- Bryson DeChambeau- To Win 10/1, To Place 16/10
The enigmatic and utterly intriguing Bryson DeChambeau truly had a Ryder Cup to forget. But one can’t let that obscure just how far DeChambeau has come. The fanatically analytical American has won four times this year, including two brilliant wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He also won his last professional start at the Shriners. DeChambeau enters this event with three wins out of his last five starts, which is oddly reminiscent of Matsuyama’s form in 2016. DeChambeau also finished second at the Arnold Palmer in Florida. With its strong trade winds and resort conditions, Floridian courses often make great corollaries to this event.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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