The Hero World Challenge rounds off a superb 2021 on the PGA Tour. This select event for the best of the best has produced some great finishes over the years and this one could well be the same as we head to Albany Golf Course for the sixth time.
The build up to the tournament has all been about Tiger Woods — the host of the event who is not even playing. But he made his first real return to golf after suffering some terrible injuries in a car crash at the start of the year. While Woods may not be playing, the field is still packed full of stars with all but two of the 20 man field sitting inside the world’s top 30.
Rory McIlroy comes into the event in some excellent form, despite a poor final day in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. He is the 17/2 favourite and the course should suit him down to the ground. He grew up on links courses and has always played well in the deserts and this is a blend of those two styles. He won two starts ago and he had that event all but won before a poor back nine. Despite ending another season without a major he had a good season and will be keen to wrap it up with this lucrative prize in the Bahamas.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 1, 2021
Collin Morikawa was the beneficiary of McIlroy’s collapse as he took home not just the tournament, but the season long title on the newly named DP World Tour. In just his second full year as a pro he has won a second major, taken home European golf’s top prize and risen to world number two. Like the Northern Irishman, his game should suit this venue perfectly. Ball striking will be at a premium this week and there is nobody that does it better than Morikawa. 9/1 in a field this small may be a gift for the in-form American. It is hard to see him not contending here. He has had a couple of weeks to get over the trip to Dubai and he is playing superb golf.
The two lowest-ranked players in the field happen to have some of the very best course form. Henrik Stenson (66/1) and Justin Rose (25/1) have combined for six top-fives in their past seven starts, including a win last time the event was held in 2019 for Stenson. While their current form may not suggest much for this event, we have seen it time and time again that a player can find some form on a course they like and that could be the case here. The Swede is over double the price of any other player and with just 19 players to beat, that price may look way too big come Sunday night.
The best sound bites from @TigerWoods' first press conference in nine months.
He's finding the positives in his road to recovery. 💪 pic.twitter.com/qUXK4ZBdVL
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 30, 2021
This can be a tough tournament to predict as players start winding down for the Christmas break. It can almost have a Pro Bowl feel to it at times. But the $1 million first prize should be at least a little motivation. So when looking for winners of this it is often worth looking at those with something to prove.
Matt Fitzpatrick made a late charge in Dubai but came up just short. But he is the sort of player that should thrive here. He putts as well as anybody in the Bahamas this weekend has the game to win in this sort of company. It would be no surprise to see him win a major in the not too distant future and he can show he has that sort of talent by overcoming one of the strongest fields we will see all year. 28/1 for the tournament and 21/20 for a top 10 finish — only a 20 man field remember — look like great bets.
Tiger Woods may well be the story even once the actual golf kicks off at Albany, but any time you get this sort of field it is something worth watching. Morikawa and McIlroy are the obvious picks here, but even in a tiny group there is still some value to be found.