One man steals the spotlight across the pond this week as the Hero World Challenge sees the return of a certain Eldrick Tont Woods. The 18 man exhibition event which takes place in the Bahamas always gets a decent billing but with the host teeing it up as well the eyes of the world will be on the tournament this year.
All 18 men play the four rounds in the Bahamas for a pot load of cash and the bragging rights of seeing off some of the best in the world. We’re set for a competitive birdie fest here.
2016 – Hideki Matsuyama
2015 – Bubba Watson
2014 – Jordan Spieth
2013 – Zach Johnson
2012 – Graeme McDowell
2011 – Tiger Woods
2010 – Graeme McDowell
2009 – Jim Furyk
2008 – Vijay Singh
2007 – Tiger Woods
The Albany course hosts the tournament for the third year. The course is a par 72 which measures 7,309 yards but with five par 5s on it the scoring is natural going to be very low and we can expect a winning score in the high teens or the low 20s under par.
The only defence for the course is the sea breezes but when they are not up this talented set of players could rip it apart. The wind is expected to blow this week though so it might be worth having players who handle the wind on side.
Obviously all eyes will be on Tiger Woods to see how his fitness is and what state his game is in but this is a star packed field. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler all appear as does the US Open winner Brooks Koepka.
The newly crowned European number one Tommy Fleetwood is in the field and he is joined by fellow Englishman and home man this week Justin Rose while Alex Noren is another European teeing it up. Hideki Matsuyama defends his title as the sole international representative.
Dustin Johnson is the 6/1 favourite to win the tournament and with his length that is understandable. For my money he is still the best in the world but how much he will want to win what is just an exhibition event remains to be seen. If he wants to and he’s on it he’s the one to beat but he’s never been better than third here.
The Open champion and USPGA winner Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are next in the betting at 13/2. Spieth won this tournament the last year before it arrived here. We saw at Birkdale that he can play the wind but he might lack a little bit of length which wouldn’t be ideal. Thomas doesn’t and if he handles the breeze he is another leading runner although him being on debut puts me off taking him at a short price.
There is nothing not to like about Brooks Koepka here unless he has run his race for 2017 after winning a major and winning another tournament on the other side of the world a couple of weeks ago. If he is focused he hits it miles and handles the wind fine. He could be the one to beat at 9/1 – if he is on it. It is 10/1 bar that quartet.
This isn’t a week to go steaming into but there are a couple of players I can’t ignore and who I’m happy to back as like most people I’m going to be watching the event intrigued to see how Tiger looks and plays.
Justin Rose has a house in Albany so this will be a home match for him and I like that. This is an exhibition event so you have to guess the motivation for many players but not him. He’ll be sleeping at home and just out playing four rounds of golf. He also has the winning touch at the minute and he’ll want to keep that going into 2018. He has eight successive top 10 finishes worldwide including two wins. He’s a massive runner here given that he’s hitting it well, scoring well and is not discomforted by the wind.
Given what we saw at Royal Birkdale and what we’ve seen in Scottish Opens prior to that we know Matt Kuchar can handle the wind and given that he is a straight hitter who holes putts for fun we shouldn’t rule him out here even in this field. He never looked like he is truly competitive but deep down he very much is and a win here would set him up perfectly for 2018. He’s overpriced for sure.
Back J.Rose to win Hero World Challenge (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 11.00 with Betbright (1/5 1-4)
Back him here:
Back M.Kuchar to win Hero World Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 29.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-4)
Back him here: