Hero World Challenge: Player-by-player guide

Jordan Spieth looks the one to be on at Albany
Jordan Spieth looks the one to be on at Albany

Dave Tindall assesses the 18-man field, including the returning Tiger Woods, at this week's event in the Bahamas...


"The American is coming in off a win at the Australian Open so has a sharpness and confidence edge over most of these rivals."

Main Bet: Back Jordan Spieth @ 11/2

Dustin Johnson - 5/1

DJ never got going at all in this event last year and, with his interest diminished on the weekend, he finished 15th of 18 and a massive 17 shots behind winner Bubba Watson. He's not played since T35 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, another disappointing finish, so beyond him being the fantastic player we know he is, there is nothing extra that seems to enhance his chances this week. Will he just be turning up for a whack or could he shoot the lights out with no pressure on?


Jordan Spieth - 11/2

Spieth won this by 10 shots when it was played at Isleworth in 2015, finishing 26 shots in front of last-placed Tiger. When defending at Albany, this week's venue, last year the two-time major winner shot rounds of 67-66-68-67 to finish solo fourth, five back from Bubba. The American is coming in off a win at the Australian Open so has a sharpness and confidence edge over most of these rivals.


Hideki Matsuyama - 15/2

The form horse. Matsuyama has figures of 1-1-2-1 in his last four worldwide events. Okay, two of those were wins in Japanese Tour events but the others were a victory in the prestigious WGC-HSBC Champions and a second place in the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. The most recent sight we got of him was helping Japan take sixth place in the World Cup of Golf alongside Ryo Ishikawa, the pair shooting 65s in both Friday and Sunday four-balls. The obvious negative is that he finished joint last here last year although he did get better each day (75-73-70-66).


Henrik Stenson - 9/1

The newly-crowned European No.1 didn't play at Albany last year but he did finish runner-up (albeit by 10 shots to Spieth) in the 2015 edition in Florida. Stenson was also second at the WGC-HSBC Champions but didn't really have his best stuff when closing out the Money List title. That said, it's all relative as an even good-but-not-great Stenson finished T8 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and T9 in the DP World Tour Championship after closing with a 65.


Brooks Koepka - 10/1

While others have had their feet up, Koepka has been boosting his bank balance via a second place in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas and a victory in the Japan Tour's Phoenix Tournament where he shot 65-70-63-65 (21-under). He was in this field last year and seemed to enjoy Albany, closing with a 68 to take solo seventh.


Patrick Reed - 12/1

Reed chased home Bubba Watson last year, shooting 22-under to finish solo second. He'd arrived at Albany in great form after five straight worldwide top 10s, four of those in Asia and the other at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. It's not the same this year and, perhaps predictably, after his Ryder Cup heroics he's since finished T51 at the CIMB Classic and T60 in the WGC-HSBC Champions.


Bubba Watson - 14/1

Bubb's enigmatic levels hit a peak in this event last year when he said he didn't care for the course before going on to shoot 25-under and win by three shots. Just strange! Obviously the five par 5s and driveable par 4s were sitting ducks for him but just as his important was his sharp short game. That looked off when he was T54 in the WGC-HSBC on his most recent start a month ago but he tends to play the same venues well so we have to respect him here.


Rickie Fowler - 16/1

Fowler jets in from Australia after he and Jimmy Walker finished runners-up at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne. The youngster admitted they didn't have their best stuff but it was still a strong performance. For Fowler, it follows on from T6 at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China a month ago. Adding to his credentials is his third place here at Albany 12 months ago where he shot 65-64 on the weekend.


Justin Rose - 18/1

Rose played a practice round with Tiger at Albany on Monday, describing the 14-time major winner's play as "pretty good" in the 20mph winds. The Englishman has had seven weeks off himself and a Golf Digest report said Rose actually looked the rustier of the two and seven times Woods outdrove him. He could only finish T13 in this event last year but it's worth noting that Rose closed with a 62 on Sunday.


Matt Kuchar - 22/1

Kuchar has been one of the regulars at Tiger's event and in recent years finished T3 in 2014 and T4 in 2011. Both those came at Sherwood CC in California so, after finishing down in 14th of 18 at Albany last year, he would have stood a better chance at the former venue. We last saw him surprisingly fail to make the cut in the RSM Classic, one of two early exits he made in the Fall Series.


J.B. Holmes - 25/1

Bubba's win suggests big hitters can do well at Albany and Holmes himself finished T8 after closing with the joint-second best round of the day, a 64, on Sunday. He had some big results in big events last season (3rd Open Championship, 4th Masters) so he's certainly one who can thrive in elite fields. He was also fourth in the BMW Championship but was 27th of 30 in the Tour Championship and didn't make an impression on his most recent start (T35) at last month's WGC-HSBC Champions in China.


Louis Oosthuizen - 25/1

The South African skips his home Alfred Dunhill Championship to take part here. It's his course debut but having grown up in windy Mossel Bay and won an Open Championship at St Andrews, he won't mind if it gets gusty. He's kept the engine running by making two starts in November, a T9 on home turf at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and a disappointing T46 in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.


Russell Knox - 25/1

With just one year of course form to go on, current form is important and Knox certainly has the latter after reeling off three straight top 10s. He started that run with T10 in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, added T9 when defending his WGC-HSBC Champions crown in China before taking third place in the OHL Classic in Mexico. Now up to 19th in the world rankings.


Brandt Snedeker - 28/1

It wasn't much of a field but Snedeker has recent winning experience in windy conditions after landing the European Tour's Fiji International in October. He blitzed the field by nine shots there although couldn't ride the hot streak when T25 in the Japan Tour's Bridgestone Open and T45 in the RSM Classic. Still, he's someone with the right credentials to do well here on his course debut.


Jimmy Walker - 28/1

The market could be underestimating Walker here. He's men's golf's most recent major winner, has often played well in windy conditions at coastal tracks and finished second alongside Rickie Fowler in the World Cup of Golf in Australia last week. He was also a decent T8 at this venue 12 months ago. The price is due to some poor recent play (28th of 30 at the Tour Championship, T77 at the WGC-HSBC Champions and MC in Las Vegas) but, if back to near his best, he could go close.


Emiliano Grillo - 28/1

Without much fanfare, the young Argentine has been playing some very impressive golf of late. Sparked by a T10 in the Tour Championship he's produced form figures of: 26-17-11-10-16 in five starts since. The other top 10 came in the OHL Classic in Mexico. He's third last in the betting this week but don't be surprised to see him finish in the top third of this 18-man field.


Zach Johnson - 33/1

The two-time major champ has had some memorable moments in this event. He beat Tiger in a play-off to take victory at Sherwood CC in California in 2014 and was runner-up to Woods at the same venue in 2011. In theory, Albany should be up his alley but he could only manage 12th of 18 last year and has been flat over the last few months with no top 30s in his last seven starts.


Tiger Woods - 40/1

And so to the most difficult puzzle to solve this week. Opinions appear to range from Tiger will be competitive and finish in the top half to he'll be tailed-off last and realise it's time to retire. Some clues are the 63 he reportedly shot at Seminole and the positive comments from Rose in his practice round at Albany on Monday. Tiger, himself, said, "I hit it pretty good today" and was later seen shaping shots both ways in a two-hour range session. Can he bring it to the course after 470 days off? Is anyone taking the 40/1 seriously expecting a return or are they just being nostalgic? It'll be fascinating to find out.


Conclusion

I'm with Jordan Spieth this week. He started off 2016 with a win in a limited field at an exotic location and can repeat the feat here.

That victory - by eight shots no less - came in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii where he was third in Scrambling and top of all the putting stats. He can ride those same skills to victory here.

Spieth won this event by 10 in 2014 a week after taking victory in the Australian Open. He's just won that event for a second time after hitting some clutch shots when it really mattered so the omens and practicalities (dealing with jet-lag, the ability to win back-to-back) point to another at an Albany course where he was fourth on debut last year.

With each-way terms of 1/5 1,2,3,4, the 11/2 is definitely playable.

I also think this course could be perfect for Rickie Fowler.

He certainly suggested it might be last year when solo third after shooting 15-under on the weekend.

This time, he's match fit after second place in the World Cup of Golf and the expected windy conditions in the Bahamas this week will help not hinder his chances of separating himself from some in this field.

We've seen Fowler go off at 16/1 in decent company in full-field events so getting that price with just 17 rivals - all classy but many with questionable motivation levels - has to be fair.


Dave's 2016 P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £1290
Returned: £1683.75
P/L: +£393.75

(After the World Cup of Golf)

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles