Just one week after the PGA Tour’s official calendar year ended, the 2021 Hero World Challenge is set to tee-off tomorrow at 11:05 AM EST, and it will be hosted by none other than the GOAT himself: Tiger Woods. Now if I’m being completely honest, I think the hosting of the tournament means absolutely nothing--Tiger is to the Hero World Challenge as Queen Elizabeth is to England. He’ll make an appearance, probably do an interview or two, and then be on his way. Regardless, it’s nice to see him up and moving so quickly after his scary car crash back in February.
While only consisting of 20 golfers, the Hero World Challenge field has some of the biggest names in golf competing this week. Five of the World’s top-ten Golfers will be in action this weekend, including 2021’s Open Championship winner
Collin Morikawa and the 2020 Master’s Champion Dustin Johnson. Even though the field is loaded with top-ten competition, there’s still a large handful of golfers that could make a push for this weekends trophy--so let’s take a closer look at this weeks contest:
Name: Hero World Challenge
When: Dec. 2-5
Where: Albany Golf Course-_Albany, New Providence, Bahamas
Purse: $3.5 million
Who can Win?
The two players favored the most to win this week’s tournament are Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, who both sit atop the field at +800. They are followed by Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, and Viktor Hovland, who all sit at +1000,+1100, and +1100 respectively. Of the five favorites, the one I love the most this week is Justin Thomas. Thomas winning this weekend's tournament would be a storybook ending, seeing as Mr. Host Man (Tiger Woods) recently described Thomas as “the little brother he never had.” Thomas has been golfing incredibly well this year and should have no problem leading the pack if he’s able to wrangle in his putting game. In Thomas’ last recorded tournament (the CJ Cup at Summit), he played spectacularly well on his way to the greens but looks like he forgot how to putt once he got there. It’ll definitely be a storyline to watch out for as the tournament unfolds.
There are a few players amongst the remaining 15 that I feel can make a real push towards the purse this Sunday. Daniel Berger (+1600 to win) has seen a stretch of great play recently, and has really put together a sneakily great year altogether. Berger has the fifth-highest SG:APP (Strokes Gained: Approach the Green) on the season, currently sitting at .834 (which means he’s almost a full stroke better than the field at playing approach shots). He had 8 top-10 finishes in 2021, even grabbing a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and could be trying to make a real statement by performing well in this star-studded field.
Another name I love this week is Brooks Koepka (+2200 to win), who we just saw bodybag Bryson DeChambeau in last week's “The Match.” Koepka looked great on Friday, even saying he was in “championship form.” Outside of “The Match” Koepka has been in a bit of a rough stretch recently, getting cut from the Hewlett Packard Open, and not finishing better than 38th in both the Shriners Children’s Open and the CJ Cup at Summit. However, seeing how well Koepka played just last week, it is fair to assume he’s found his stroke. Last year, Koepka was one of the best drivers on tour, and overall was the 8th best golfer in terms of Shots Gained all season. If Koepka can keep his head down and just play his game, I can see him being a real threat at the top of the leaderboard.
Golf is incredibly hard to bet because it’s such an inconsistent game. Luckily, you can hedge your bets
a bit by betting on who you think will finish in the top-5 (it gives you some room to breathe, you know?) Of course, the odds will be lower here than they were to win (i.e. Collin Morikawa is even money to finish in the top-5), but you can still find some diamond’s in the rough. For Example, my buddy Brooks Koepka is still sitting pretty at +250
to make the top-5, which is something I am more than comfortable taking.
I also can see Patrick Reed (+400) being someone who is knocking on the top-5 door, seeing as he was one of the best and most consistent putters last season. All in all, here are my best bets for this weekend’s Hero World Challenge:
Justin Thomas to Win (+1000)
Justin Thomas to finish Top 5 (+130)
Brooks Koepka to Win (+2200)
Brooks Koepka to finish Top 5 (+250)
Daniel Berger to finish Top 5 (+200)
Patrick Reed to finish Top 5 (+400)
Patrick Reed to finish Top 10 (+120)
Top Great Britain and Ireland Player RORY MCILROY (+120)