The Hero World Challenge takes place at the Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas this week. The event is sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and was set to feature Tiger and 19 other golfers in the field all vying for the $1M top prize. However, Woods withdrew from the field on Monday.
The field this week is very limited with only 20 players, but it’s an elite field and features golfers from across the globe. Outside of Tiger Woods, who was forced to withdraw early in the week, every other player in the tournament is currently in the top 50 of the OWGR, giving us plenty of elite 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 over 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.
Even with heavy winds from the sea often affecting play, the course itself is conducive to lower scoring as Albany Golf Course 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.
Albany is set near the sea and has little in the way of cover, with wide-open fairways tending to deemphasize power. Both Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson, who have both proven themselves to be excellent links players (but who don’t qualify as long hitters), have each found wins at this event over the past five years. 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.
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 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 (x2) 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 in 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 3rd that week. 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 this week.
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 still 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.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.