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Power Rankings: Hero World Challenge

He’s back! That’s right, golf fans. Viktor Hovland has returned to defend his title at the Hero World Challenge. Oh, you were thinking about Tiger Woods, huh? Well, he was scheduled to be back, too, but he withdrew on Monday due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He alerted followers on Twitter that he remains committed to his remaining pair of scheduled starts in his last month as a 46-year-old. RELATED: The First Look The entire field of 20 committed to the 72-hole competition at Albany in The Bahamas is ranked below. More on the construct of the week overall can be found with additional scrolling or swiping. POWER RANKINGS: HERO WORLD CHALLENGE The Hero World Challenge has been an unofficial event throughout the entirety of its existence (2000-present). However, like many of its kind, real prize money is distributed to all who qualify and compete. The total purse is $3.5 million of which $1 million is reserved for the champion and just in time for holiday shopping. Albany has hosted the competition since 2015, although the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic. It’s situated in the western reaches of New Providence Island. In an amusing coincidence for golf fans who play golf with something on the line in their weekly games, Nassau is the island’s most recognizable destination, albeit in the opposite corner. The par 72 boasts a quintet of par 3s and par 5s each. It can extend to 7,414 yards, but even when it played 105 longer in 2021 than it tested the previous three editions, scoring was commensurate with its history at 69.475. After all, this is a heavyweight field. Now, the differences of the scores between the highs and the lows for every round last year ranged from nine strokes (in R1) to a dozen (in both R3 and R4), and that was in relatively light winds compared to what’s in store this week. Sustained breezes no calmer than 15 mph are forecast throughout, but they’re going to intensify to as strong at 30 mph at times in the middle rounds. The TifEagle bermuda greens typically are prepped to measure 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, but as all tournaments profess, that is subject to the magnitude of the invisible challenge. The targets average just 4,500 square feet, so that fields check in at least a couple of digits under par almost every year prove their quality. There is no cut and Official World Golf Ranking points piggyback the bank deposit, so adopting the marathon approach across four rounds has merit. En route to the title in his debut appearance a year ago, Hovland prevailed by one at 18-under 270, thus becoming the fourth winner to land on that aggregate in the last five years. (There’s never been a playoff at Albany.) Hovland converted four eagles, three of which on the 307-yard, par-4 14th where “only” six were recorded by the entire field all week. NOTE: Although PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf is off until the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Jan. 5-8, we will publish our Expert Picks for the Hero World Challenge on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

 

28 Nov 2022


DraftKings preview: Hero World Challenge

The Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods and his TGR Foundation, takes place at Albany in the Bahamas this week. The 20-man field was set to feature Woods in his first start since The 150th Open Championship in July but the 82-time PGA TOUR winner was forced to withdraw with plantar fasciitis. Sepp Straka gets the late call up against some elite talent. Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $300K Pitch + Putt [$100K to 1st] STRATEGY The field might be very limited with only 20 players, but it’s elite and features golfers from across the globe. All 20 reside inside the top 33 of the OWGR, giving us plenty of top options down the board to choose from for fantasy. Last year’s winner and runner-up (Viktor Hovland and Scottie Scheffler) are both in the field, as is 2018 winner Jon Rahm, who won twice on the DP World Tour this fall. With such a limited field — and every player guaranteed to get in four rounds of golf — every pick we make will have serious consequences for our daily fantasy golf lineups, so prepare for some big swings up and down the leaderboard this week as the event progresses. Albany is set near the sea and has little in the way of cover, with wide-open fairways tending to deemphasize power. Even with heavy winds from the sea often affecting play, the course itself is conducive to lower scoring. Albany has yielded a winning score of 18-under par or better in each of the past five seasons. The venue is unique in its setup in that designer Ernie Els set up Albany to play as more of a links-style venue, and Els even compared it stylistically to St. Andrews at one point. Rickie Fowler, who has proven himself to be an excellent links player (but who doesn't qualify as a long hitter), is a past champion. The venue is also unique in that it features five par 5s and five par 3s (instead of the normal four we find on most par 72s). That makes this more of a shot-makers course and also siphons away some of the advantages that longer drivers have. Without a ton of the longer par 4s that we see on more traditional PGA TOUR setups, players who are weaker off the tee can challenge this week if they are firing with their approaches and putter. It’s near the end of the year and players will be coming in with varying form, but strong around the green and approach play has generally been the key to success at this event. Look for players who have been sharp in those areas this fall and who have experienced some success on the links in their careers already. GOLFERS TO CONSIDER Justin Thomas ($10,200) Taking Thomas this week could be a nice contrarian play in larger field tournaments on DraftKings. The American only played a couple of events over the fall with a T40 at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina being his best result. That’s not likely to get him a ton of eyeballs on a week where you only have to pay $500 more to get up to the red-hot Jon Rahm or have the choice of going more balanced by using players like Tony Finau ($9,300) and Viktor Hovland ($8,700) as your anchors. Thomas finally cracked the top 10 at this event in 2021, grabbing a T5 finish at Albany last season. With limited starts on his resume since the TOUR Championship, he should be eager to improve on that career-best finish in 2022. He’s also ranked first in around the green stats over the last 50 rounds in this field and has had plenty of success winning at non-mainland PGA TOUR courses over his career, grabbing wins in Malaysia, Hawaii (twice) and South Korea to date. While his price may seem high, his upside is every bit as elite as the other top players in the field, making him a solid contrarian play to build around in big field GPPs. Tommy Fleetwood ($7,300) Fleetwood is an experienced links player who has already had a terrific 2022 season and is coming off a win on the DP World Tour just a few weeks ago in South Africa. Like Thomas, Fleetwood has an elite short game that should allow him to handle this venue if and when the wind gets up. Fleetwood has also shown a ton of confidence with the putter over the back half of 2022, gaining strokes on the greens in six of his last seven PGA TOUR starts. A top-five finisher at The Open Championship in two of the past four years, Fleetwood also showed strong at Albany the last time he played this event in 2017 (his only invite), grabbing a share of third. Given his recent form and the success he’s had on links venues in the past, using him as a value play in this range makes plenty of sense for DFS purposes. Collin Morikawa ($6,900) Even in this elite field, Morikawa’s sub-$7,000 salary sticks out like a sore thumb. The two-time major winner may have had a down season by his standards, but he still finished top five at two of the four major championships in 2022, and encouragingly, looked better in his last fall start in Mexico where he grabbed a share of 15th place. Morikawa’s last two starts have also seen him gain strokes around the green which is perhaps a sign that the rest of his game is catching up to his elite iron play — which has him ranked third in this field in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50 rounds. Morikawa is an Open Championship winner who also prevailed for a big win against an elite WGC field down in Florida (at the very open and windy Concession Golf Course). He finished T5 at this event/venue last season and comes in with more motivation than his peers given he’s gone the entire year without a win. At under $7,000 on DraftKings, he’s criminally underpriced (even in this limited field) and makes for a terrific value target this week for fantasy. Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $300K Pitch + Putt [$100K to 1st] Place your golf bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and bet online by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app. I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

 

28 Nov 2022


Because THE PLAYERS Championship is operated by the PGA TOUR, its qualifying criteria for the 2023 edition has been set since the beginning of the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season, but none of the majors have released theirs. The ongoing assumption is that all traditional criteria will be honored, but this page will not reflect qualifiers until they are official. The R&A announced that it will release the criteria for The Open Championship in February. That could change, of course – which is another reason why the disclaimer atop REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA at the bottom of this page always has included the phrase, “subject to change” – but The Open Qualifying Series got underway in South Africa last week, so three official qualifiers have been added to the alphabetical list below. The top three finishers at the Joburg Open gained entry. They were led by champion Dan Bradbury of England, who went wire-to-wire in just his third career DP World Tour start. (He gained entry via a sponsor exemption.) Bradbury concluded 72 holes in 21-under 263 at Houghton Golf Club, three clear of Sami Välimäki of Finland. Each will be making his debut in The Open. Bradbury did it all as a collegian at Lincoln Memorial University before transferring and teeing it up as a super senior at Florida State. The Brit never has competed in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event. Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder tied for third another stroke back, but the battle among of the fellow South Africans for the final exemption went to Bezuidenhout because he has a better Official World Golf Ranking (74th) than van Tonder (230th). It will be Bezuidenhout’s fourth career appearance in The Open. He finished T68 at St. Andrews this year. Should any of the three qualifiers gain entry into The Open another way, van Tonder will serve as the replacement via a special list of alternates. This process will be repeated for every stop in the OQS. The next is this week’s ISPS HANDA Australian Open. NOTE: Golfers are omitted if they recently haven’t competed in majors for which they are eligible (e.g., The Open Championship=Justin Leonard). TPC = THE PLAYERS Championship MAS = Masters PGA = PGA Championship US = U.S. Open OPEN = The Open Championship Recent Additions TPC -- none MAS -- none PGA -- none US -- none OPEN -- Christiaan Bezuidenhout; Dan Bradbury; Sami Välimäki REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA Criteria are listed in chronological order where possible. Best estimates are given but all are subject to change. THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP (TPC) @ TPC Sawgrass (Stadium) – March 9-12 • Winners of PGA TOUR events thru the final week before THE PLAYERS. • Top 10 in the FedExCup at the conclusion of The Honda Classic (Feb. 26). • Top 50 of Official World Golf Ranking (Feb. 27). • If necessary to complete the field of 144, golfers outside the Top 10 in the FedExCup at the conclusion of the Honda Classic on Feb. 26 will gain entry in order of position. MASTERS (MAS) @ Augusta National Golf Club – April 6-9 • TBD PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (PGA) @ Oak Hill Country Club – May 18-21 • TBD U.S. OPEN (US) @ The Los Angeles Country Club (North) – June 15-18 • TBD THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP (OPEN) @ Royal Liverpool – July 20-23 • TBD

 

27 Nov 2022


Inside the Field: Hero World Challenge

Editor's note: Tiger Woods announced his withdrawal from the Hero World Challenge on Monday, Nov. 28. He was replaced in the field by Sepp Straka. The 2022 Hero World Challenge field features defending champion Viktor Hovland along with six major winners who have won a total of 10 major championships. Since moving to Albany in 2015, only Jon Rahm (2018) and Hovland (2021) have won the event in their tournament debut. Scroll below for the Hero World Challenge field list as of Saturday, Nov. 28th at 12 p.m. ET. Check here for updates. Scottie Scheffler (1), USA Billy Horschel (15), USA Xander Schauffele (5), USA Cameron Young (17), USA Jon Rahm (6), Spain Sungjae Im (18), South Korea Justin Thomas (7), USA Max Homa (20), USA Collin Morikawa (8), USA Tom Kim (21), South Korea Matt Fitzpatrick (10), England Shane Lowry (23), Ireland Viktor Hovland (11), Norway Corey Conners (25), Canada Sam Burns (12), USA Jordan Spieth (13), USA Kevin Kisner, Tournament exemption Tony Finau (14), USA Tommy Fleetwood, Tournament exemption Sepp Straka

 

26 Nov 2022


The First Look: The Hero World Challenge

Editor's note: Tiger Woods announced his withdrawal from the Hero World Challenge on Monday, Nov. 28. He was replaced in the field by Sepp Straka. The Hero World Challenge returns to Albany in the Bahamas, hosted by Tiger Woods. It’s the seventh time the Ernie Els-designed club will play host to the year-end event. FIELD NOTES AND STORYLINES: Woods was set to return to action for the first time since The Open Championship but announced that he had withdrawn from the field. The 82-time PGA TOUR winner played three times this season – the Masters, PGA Championship, and The Open – as he began his recovery from a car accident in 2021. Woods will play host once again in the Bahamas… Woods is set to tee it up at The Match on Dec. 10 and with his son, Charlie, at the PNC Championship Dec. 17-18… Viktor Hovland returns to defend his title from last season… Tom Kim, who won the Wyndham Championship in August and the Shriners Children’s Open in October (plus made a fiery Presidents Cup debut in September), will make his tournament debut… Kim is one of six golfers to make their Hero World Challenge debuts… PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Cameron Young, International Presidents Cup team members Corey Conners and Sungjae Im, former Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, and multi-time TOUR winner (and new father) Max Homa are the other debutants… Four-time winner in 2022 Scottie Scheffler is set to return to the Hero field. Scheffler finished runner-up last year… This year’s U.S. Open champion and PGA Championship winner, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Thomas, respectively, will be teeing it up… Jon Rahm, who won in 2018 by four shots, is back in action. Only Rahm and Hovland won the Hero World Challenge in their tournament debut… Multi-time PGA TOUR winner and Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele is in the field… Tony Finau, who won the Cadence Bank Houston Open this fall, is looking to find the winner’s circle for the fourth time this year… Former FedExCup champions Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel are in the field… World No.8 Collin Morikawa makes it six of the world’s top-10 bopping to the Bahamas… Tournament exemptions were granted to Kevin Kisner and Tommy Fleetwood to round out the 20-player field. FEDEXCUP: No FedExCup points are awarded at the Hero World Challenge; however, four past FedExCup winners are in the field. Tom Kim is the highest-ranked golfer in the field in this year’s FedExCup (he’s fourth). World-ranking points will be awarded. COURSE: Albany, par 72, 7,414 yards (yardage subject to change). This marks the seventh year that the Ernie Els-designed Albany will play host to the Hero World Challenge. The 20 golfers will contend with strategic water hazards, windswept dunes, and navigate a linksy-style layout with five par-5s and five par-3s. Four of the last five winners of the Hero World Challenge at Albany have finished at exactly 18 under. 72-HOLE RECORD: 262, Jordan Spieth (2014). Albany record: 263, Bubba Watson (2015) 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Rickie Fowler (fourth round, 2017) LAST TIME: Viktor Hovland became the third straight European to win the Hero World Challenge and the first debutant to win in Albany since Jon Rahm in 2018. Hovland, who topped Scottie Scheffler by one shot, fired a 6-under 66 Sunday, highlighted by back-to-back eagles on No’s 14 and 15 in the final round. Collin Morikawa held the 54-hole lead but made double bogeys on No’s 4 and 6 on Sunday and couldn’t recover, ending up with a 4-over 76 in the final round. Scheffler, meanwhile, caught fire on his back nine Sunday firing a 6-under 30 for his final nine holes. It was too little, too late, however. Hovland started the day six shots back of the lead but still managed to lift the trophy despite finishing bogey-bogey. Sam Burns and Patrick Reed finished tied for third, while Morikawa and Justin Thomas finished tied for fifth. Harris English, who finished tied for 14th, shot the round of the week, a 9-under 63 on Saturday. Television: Thursday-Friday, 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 12 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 12 p.m.-1 p.m. (Golf Channel), 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (NBC)

 

26 Nov 2022