16/1 Tommy Fleetwood loves a coastal test
Collin Morikawa has incentive and is a threat at 16/1
Joohyung 'Tom' Kim can cap a brilliant season at 18/1
After not playing competitively since July's Open Championship Tiger Woods is... not back. Oh.
The great man popped the hype in a press release on Monday, explaining: "In my preparation and practice for this week's Hero World Challenge, I've developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot, which is making it difficult to walk. After consulting with my doctor and trainers, I have decided to withdraw this week and focus on my hosting duties."
Tiger hopes to team up with Rory McIlroy to take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the latest version of 'The Match' on December 10.
Woods' withdrawal opens a space for Sepp Straka to keep a field of 20 for this annual high-class gathering, the betting fronted by recent DP World Tour Championship winner Jon Rahm at 5/1.
The event has been played at Albany in the Bahamas since 2015 and, in two appearances, Rahm has a win (2018) and a second (2019). He'll be hard to beat.
Rahm's win in 2018 was followed by victories for Henrik Stenson in 2019 and Viktor Hovland in 2021 (the pandemic caused a cancellation in 2020) so Europeans have won the last three editions.
That's no great surprise. Stenson is an Open winner and Hovland has won twice at windy El Camaleon in Mexico. Albany is a coastal track where it blows so offers some of the same challenges.
Hovland was coming in off a win (that second Mexico title) when he lifted the trophy here 12 months ago while Rahm had just finished runner-up at the DP World Tour Championship when victorious in 2018.
Rahm was also runner-up here in 2019 when boasting form of 1-1 (DP again and his home Spanish Open) so clearly it pays to arrive with the game in strong nick.
Keeping it simple and picking out an in-form player who excels by the coast leads me to Tommy Fleetwood.
The Englishman reminded us of his skills with some sea air in the nostrils when posting back-to-back fourth places in the Scottish Open and the Open Championship back in July.
And his last three starts show tied fourth in the CJ Cup, a victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa and a tied fifth at the DP World Tour Championship.
The latter was his second-best finish in 10 starts at the DP World Tour's season closer which bumps up the form a little more, as does the fact that he ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach at the Earth Course.
Fleetwood has had one crack at Albany and showed his liking for the course by finishing in a tie for third in 2017.
With each-way terms of 1/5 Odds, 5 places, the 2019 Open runner-up is worth a punt.
There will be players in this very limited field who are in wind down mode. But Collin Morikawa is not one of them.
Morikawa is winless in 2022 and speaking before the World Wide Technology Championship in Mexico, he said: "This year's been fairly stressful, a little frustrating at the same time. I think some guys are definitely taking it easy and I've kind of ramped it up just trying to kind of figure things out.
"I want to finish this fall on the best foot forward as possible. That's why I come to these tournaments... to come out here and play well and hopefully win.
"Even though we are kind of heading towards this offseason, this fall area, I'm putting a lot of pieces together and putting a lot of work in to make sure this next (2023) is going to be as best as ever."
A tied 15th in Mexico was certainly a step in the right direction, especially as he overcame a slugglish start to shoot 63-68-67 over his final three rounds.
He ranked 1st for Greens In Regulation there so the strength of his game is in fine fettle again.
As an Open winner, there's an argument to be made that he should take to this course well.
The intriguing aspect about his chances this week is that we don't need the clever guesswork as Morikawa made his debut in this event last year and burst into a five-shot lead after 54 holes when shooting 68-66-64.
"It's not like I'm playing crazy or I'm playing stupid. I'm playing to my strengths and that's what I have to stick with," he said after opening up his big lead on Saturday.
True, it all went wrong on Sunday when he surprisingly lost the plot a little in a closing 76 but it's easy to be seduced by those first three laps if you like him this week.
Looking back as to what might have caused his collapse, there was extra pressure on him that week as Morikawa knew that a win would take him to World No.1 for the first time.
If the putter suddenly clicks - and it happens that way with Morikawa - he could easily take redemption for last year's disappointment. Back him at 16/1.
Tony Finau would definitely have been a bet at similar prices to Fleetwood and Morikawa.
But, of course, we're not going to see such odds for Big Tone at the moment given his brilliant run of three wins in seven starts. Finau is just 9/1.
Hovland won on his Albany debut last year so we shouldn't be afraid to look at first-timers.
And that means I'm happy to play Joohyung 'Tom' Kim at 18/1.
The Korean is clearly an outrageous talent but, crucially, that's very much based on the hard currency of actual results.
Kim wins. In August he landed the Wyndham Championship and three starts later he bagged a second PGA Tour success by taking the Shriners Childrens Open in Las Vegas.
He wowed us further at the Presidents Cup and, a little under the radar, the 20-year-old (he's only 20 for crying out loud!) took fourth place in the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix Tournament a couple of weeks ago, closing that event with a 64.
Arguments could be made that this isn't the absolute ideal course for him but such reasoning is likely to prove costly over the coming months and years as Kim is one of those elite performers who can win anywhere.
He ranked 1st (Shriners) and 3rd (Wyndham) respectively for Stroke Gained: Putting when winning his two PGA Tour titles.
Something similar on these Bermuda greens and he could be in the thick of contention on Sunday evening.