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BlogHero Challenge Preview and Picks

Hero World Challenge

December 2nd – 5th, 2021

Albany Golf Club

New Providence, Bahamas

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,414

Purse: $3.5 million

with $1,000,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Henrik Stenson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field is excellent but could be better.  19 of the 20 players are ranked in the top-50 (#182nd Henrik Stenson is in the field), with six players in the top ten.  Unfortunately, a few marquee names took a pass.  #1 Jon Rahm, #3 Dustin Johnson, and #5 Patrick Cantlay, along with #15 Hideki Matsuyama won’t be playing.  Both Rahm and Matsuyama have won at Albany but still took a pass, maybe meaning that all four are planning to play a lot in January.

The field includes six top 25 players on the FedEx point standings for 2022: #2 Sam Burns, #5 Viktor Hovland, #T-9 Rory McIlroy, #14 Scottie Scheffler, and #15 Collin Morikawa..

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Hero World Challenge field is our performance chart listed by the average finish. 

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Hero World Challenge

Player DP World, Dubai RSM Classic Houston Open Mayakoba Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Shriners Children’s Sanderson Farms Fortinet Champ. Dunhill Links BMW PGA Tour Champ.
Collin Morikawa
(280 pts)
Win
(198)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(12)
Matt Fitzpatrick
(178.33 pts)
T2
(150)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
DNP
Scottie Scheffler
(168 pts)
DNP T57
(0)
T2
(100)
4
(53.33)
DNP DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(14)
Rory McIlroy
(152 pts)
T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(18)
Sam Burns
(150.33 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T14
(12)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(16)
Viktor Hovland
(136.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.5)
T5
(35)
Justin Thomas
(110.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 4
(40)
Patrick Reed
(102.83 pts)
T32
(27)
DNP T61
(0)
T56
(0)
T2
(66.67)
DNP T68
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 25
(12.5)
Abraham Ancer
(102.33 pts)
T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
Tyrrell Hatton
(86.67 pts)
T16
(51)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T40
(6.67)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
CUT
(-5)
DNP
Justin Rose
(74.67 pts)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T40
(6.67)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(30)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(65.33 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(60.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(35)
Bryson DeChambeau
(27.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 7
(27.5)
Jordan Spieth
(25.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Hero World Challenge

Player DP World, Dubai RSM Classic Houston Open Mayakoba Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Shriners Children’s Sanderson Farms Fortinet Champ. Dunhill Links BMW PGA Tour Champ.
Brooks Koepka
(-15.17 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T38
(4)
T67
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-2.5)
Henrik Stenson
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(10)
DNP
Harris English
(1 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(16)
Tony Finau
(14.5 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(19.5)
Daniel Berger
(19.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(19.5)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz

So 2021 is coming to an end, and the last individual event is the Hero World Challenge.  This event started in 1999 as another off-season event. Back then, it’s was called the Silly Season with half a dozen unofficial events, which were nothing more than a big money grab.  22 years later, the Hero World Challenge is the last end-of-the-season event left, mainly because Tiger Woods associated himself with the event.  In 2016 the event moved to the Bahamas and one of the most exclusive resorts on the planet.

Before we leave you

This is our last preview for 2021.  Looking forward to the new season when players get together the first week in January.  We are in our planning stages to come up with new content for the new year, already you can see all of our new stuff in GOLFIQ which includes player guides, DrafKings Analysis, Composite Rankings and hole by hole of those on the PGA Tour.

From both Ed and myself happy holiday season and if you have any ideas for us send it my way at Sal@Golfstats.com.

Chasing World No. 1 

Collin Morikawa, who is making his first competitive start since winning the Race to Dubai on the DP World Tour, can move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career with a win at Albany. The 24-year-old, who is making his first start in the Hero World Challenge, has five wins on the PGA TOUR, including two major championship titles (2020 PGA Championship, 2021 Open Championship).

Eight new faces

Among the 20 players in the field, only 12 have previously competed at the Hero World Challenge. The eight first-timers have combined to win 13 times on the PGA Tour since the last time the tournament was played.

First-timers (wins since 2019 Hero World Challenge)

Abraham Ancer (1); Harris English (2); Tyrrell Hatton (1); Collin Morikawa (4); Sam Burns (2); Matt Fitzpatrick (0); Viktor Hovland (3) & Scottie Scheffler (0).

Things you need to know about the Albany Golf Club

The course is part of a luxury resort community, set on 600 oceanside acres on New Providence in The Bahamas.  The course, designed by Ernie Els and opened in 2010, is unique because it sits on an oceanfront site with the best weather in the Bahamas.  The course gets gentle breezes off the ocean to keep the temperature just around 80.  In its sixth year as host, the Ernie Els-designed Albany GC combines the best of links and desert features with windswept dunes and numerous scenic and strategically challenging water features.  The club has one of the finest practice faculties, which features a 400-yard driving range, along with plenty of chipping and putting greens.  The club also has state of the art swing-performance center.  So it only makes sense that many PGA Tour pros are members of Albany, including Els, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Trevor Immelman, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, and Tim Clark.  On top of that, Woods, Scott, Els, and Rose have a home in Albany.

Course information:
  • Albany Golf Club
  • New Providence, The Bahamas
  • 7,414 yards     Par 36-36–72

The course can stretch to 7,400, but this week will play at 7,414.  It has five par 5s and 3s, Els took a flat site and dug out some water hazards, excavating sand from the deep-water channel, which became the resort’s marina.  The excavated material became sand dunes that separate the fairways and make the course look like it’s been on linkland for thousands of years.  The course is challenging for those playing this week in Albany, but low scores are the norm.  That’s because the course is in pristine shape.  Along with wide-open fairways, greens that allow players to attack the pin are the reason for the low scores. One element that makes it more challenging is wind, which blows every day, but mostly around 10 mph.  When it blows, the course does have some bite, but winds will be normal at 10 to 12 mph for this week.

The secret to playing well at Albany Golf Club

This course has had an incredible six years.  It is intriguing that the winners haven’t been the marquee players, which were favorites.  Each of the winners is players you wouldn’t believe could win. A perfect example is the last winner of the Hero, Henrik Stenson.  When he won, he had a bad stretch going into the victory.  But for the week, Stenson looked like a superstar, beating Jon Rahm by a shot.  But since the win, Stenson has only finished in the top-20 in two of his 35 starts.  Like the other winners, Hideki Matsuyama finished dead last in 2016 and won it the next year.  So the key is to look at those in the field and see who has played well of late.

Since this is an unofficial event, stats aren’t kept, so we have very little intel on the keys to winning.  In looking at four of the five champions at Albany, all of them are great ball strikers.  The except is 2018 winner Rickie Fowler, who was a great putter and won thanks to the short-stick.  You can’t go wrong with a player who is high in greens in regulation but look at those with Great Proximity to Hole numbers.  Also, look at players that have been on the cusp of winning and haven’t achieved many wins.  Look at players like Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka over Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Collin Morikawa.

DraftKings Tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,800
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,600
  • Justin Thomas – $10,200
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,900
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $9,300
  • Xander Schauffele – $8,700
  • Jordan Spieth – $8,300

Only 20 players in a non-cut event, boy this is a dream come true.  Making the dream even better, only three of the 20 are over $10,000, while between $7,000 to $9,900 are only nine players.  For those under $7,000 are players like Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Harris English, and Justin Rose so yes we can pick a lot of big-name players.  Still, as we told you above, this event hasn’t seen many marquee winners so maybe that is the reason for the way DraftKings priced things.

Off the bat is Rory McIlroy at $10,800, he has been playing well of late, had a back nine stumble in the final round at Dubai, still, the cost for him is justified.  But I really like Collin Morikawa at $10,800.  His win at Dubai showed us a lot, in his two 2022 starts was T-7th at Zozo Championship and 2nd at the C.J. Cup.  Now he has never played at Albany, so maybe that is a reason not to bet on him but don’t feel that will stop a good week for Morikawa.  Justin Thomas at $10,200 is another to think about, has played in three Hero’s at Albany, best was in 2020 when he was T-5th.  Since finishing T-4th at the Tour Championship was T-18th at C.J. Cup and 3rd at Mayakoba, he is a good pick.  Viktor Hovland at $9,900 is a good pick, yes has never played at Albany but that shouldn’t present a problem.  In his last start won at Mayakoba so he is someone to think about this week.  Bryce DeChambeau at $9,300 is a big fat no, boy did he stink up the Friday match with Brooks Koepka?  Not only did it look like DeChambeau wasn’t hitting the ball that great, but his putting was also off and it’s hard to believe he didn’t make a single birdie in the 12 hole match.  It was the first time he played since the Ryder Cup and boy it looked that way, again take a pass on DeChambeau.  Xander Schauffele at $8,700 is a big choice, his play has been OK at Albany, but not great with his T-8th finish in 2019 and T-10th in 2020.  Since finishing 3rd at the Tour Championship has been mediocre with a T-18th at the C.J. CUp and T-28th at the Zozo Championship so in this field it’s best not to pick him.  Jordan Spieth at $8,300 is someone to consider, but be careful.  He won this event in 2015 but it was played in Florida, not Albany.  In those starts, he was T-4th in 2016, T-6th in 2017, T-3rd in 2018, and 16th last year.  2020 is the one that bothers me but that was two years ago when he was struggling with his game, in the two years since has played well.  But he hasn’t played well since his runner-up win at the British Open and then his T-12th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude.  But at the end of the day, his price is too good to pass up on.

*Players in that $6,000 to $7,800 price range, which ones are worth the money and get you maximum points?

Of the bat love Scottie Scheffler at $7,800.  He has never played at Albany and never won on the PGA Tour, but I see him doing well this week.  In his last start was 4th at Mayakoba, T-2nd at Houston, and T-57th at RSM Classic.  Feel he has played good enough and that the good play will show this week, he is a terrific pick.  Same with Sam Burns at $7,500, he has never played at Albany but his game will do good on the course.  Love how well he is on Bermuda and I think off of his last year of playing great golf he is in a upper circle, boy $7,500 is a bargain for him.  Another Bermuda specialist that we need to consider is Daniel Berger at $7,200.  He played once at Albany was not very impressive finishing T-14th in 2018.  Think it is better now and should be a person of interest.  Another player to consider is Brooks Koepka at $6,800.  I base this on what I saw last Friday in his match with Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks looks like he is healthy again and ready to win.  So disregard his past Albany results of 7th in 2016, T-13th in 2017, and 18th in 2018.  Also like Patrick Reed at $6,400, he has played well at Albany finishing 2nd in 2016, 10th in 2017, T-5th in 2018, 11th in 2019, and 3rd in 2020.  Another savvy pick will be Justin Rose at $6,100.  In looking at his record in 2021 and ’22 he has played well in big events, 7th at the Masters, T-8th at the PGA Championship and T-6th at the BMW PGA Championship.  On top of that, he owns a house at Albany and plays on it a lot.  His record has been good at Albany, he was 13th in 2016, withdrew in 2017 but been stellar since with a T-5th in 2018, 3rd in 2019, and T-5th in 2020.  The bottom man is Henrik Stenson at $6,000, he hasn’t played well since winning at Albany in 2020, but he wasn’t playing well going into Albany and maybe it’s the course.  He was 2nd in 2017, 18th in 2018 but 4th in 2019 and winning in 2020 so you can’t go wrong with that.

*So who are my six DraftKings picks for this week?
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,600
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,900
  • Scottie Scheffler – $7,800
  • Sam Burns – $7,500
  • Brooks Koepka – $6,800
  • Justin Rose – $6,100

Here are my picks for this week at the Hero World Challenge:

You should focus on these three, not the marquee favorites

Sam Burns

  • This is a great sleeper pick, has never played in this event, and will be mostly ignored.
  • But you can’t ignore him, plays best on Bermuda and in his last eight starts has a win, a second, and five top-ten finishes.
  • This year 1st in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 9th in Greens in Regulation, 26th in scrambling, 34th in putting inside ten feet, and T-6th in Par Breakers.

Justin Rose

  • This is a player who many will disregard.  But they shouldn’t because he plays a lot at Albany, owns a home and plays well.  In his last three Albany starts was T-5th last year, 3rd in 2019 and T-5th in 2018.
  • Has struggled for the last two years with his game, but was T-2nd at Saudi International, 7th at the Masters, T-8th at the PGA Championship, and T-6th at the BMW PGA Championship.  Was T-12th at his last start at RSM so you can’t disregard Rose this week.

Scottie Scheffler

  • Playing in this event for the first time
  • Hard to believe that he hasn’t won yet on the PGA Tour, but it’s coming soon.  Was T-2nd at Houston and 4th at Mayakoba
The favorites this week

Collin Morikawa

  • Playing in this event for the first time
  • His game is very sharp right now, won DP World Dubai two weeks ago, was 2nd at the CJ Cup, and do I need to say he won the British Open just three months ago
  • For 2022 is T-10th in Greens in Regulation, 1st in Proximity to Hole, 10th in Strokes Gained Putting, and T-12th in Par Breakers.

Rory McIlroy

  • Was 4th in 2010 and 11th in 2014 but has never played at Albany
  • His year has been more of a Jekyll and Hyde, he wins at the CJ Cup but then his next start at DP World Dubai was in the lead going into the last nine holes and blows up in the finish.  Picking Rory is a lot like playing Russian Roulette, that bullet finds a way to be deadly at the wrong time.
  • His game is well-suited for Albany, for 2022 is 1st in Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee, T-10th in Greens in Regulation, T-42nd in Proximity to Hole, 1st in Scrambling, and 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting.

Viktor Hovland

  • Another rookie in this event, still course should suit his game
  • Win in his last start at Mayakoba also finished 4th in last year’s FedExCup, his game is starting to elevate at a higher level.
  • For 2022 is 3rd in Greens in Regulation, 36th in Strokes Gained Putting and 3rd in Par Breakers

Justin Thomas

  • Has improved at Albany, was 11th in 2018, T-12th in 2019, and T-5th in 2020.
  • After a rough start in 2021, finished strong to finish T-4th in the FedExCup.  Was 3rd in his last start at Mayakoba
  • In 2022 is 5th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green,  T-45th in Proximity to Hole, and T-1st in Par Breakers.

Don’t forget these guys

Jordan Spieth

  • Has played well in this event, won it in 2015 but on another course, since was T-4th in 2016, T-6th in 2017, T-3rd in 2018, and 16th in 2020.
  • Is well rested only playing once since the Ryder Cup, T-18th at the C.J. Cup.

Brooks Koepka

  • Indifferent results from Albany, 7th in 2016 but went the other direction T-13th in 2017 and 18th in 2018
  • His game has been very questionable for the last year and a half, but most of it is due to injuries.
  • He looked very healthy last week in Las Vegas and his game was sharp in demolishing Bryson DeChambeau.  We can’t disregard him.

Patrick Reed

  • Has a great record at Albany, 2nd in 2016, 10th in 2017, T-5th in 2018, 11th in 2019, and 3rd in 2020.
  • Reed finished 2nd at Bermuda, another course by the sea and with Bermuda.
  • His whole game comes down to the putter, if he is putting well he will contend, if he doesn’t he will struggle.
He looked terrible last week in Las Vegas and never has played well at Albany

Bryson DeChambeau

  • Was T-12th at Albany in 2019 and 15th in 2020.  Seems his game doesn’t set up well for him at Albany.
  • Has only played three times since losing a playoff at the BMW Championship, was T-11th at the Tour Championship, played OK at the Ryder Cup but boy he looked terrible in his Las Vegas match with Brooks Koepka.  Hard to believe in 12 holes didn’t make a single birdie.

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