Tiger Woods will make his anticipated return to competitive golf this week at the Hero World Challenge, which will be played at Albany Golf Course (par 72, 7,449 yards, Bermuda greens) in New Providence of the Bahamas. Ever since 2016, Albany has hosted every edition of the Hero World Challenge, except in 2020, when the event was canceled because of the pandemic. Woods is the tournament host for the Hero World Challenge and this will be the first time he has competed since making the cut at the Masters in April. Unfortunately, even though the 47-year-old advanced through the cut, Woods withdrew during the third round at Augusta National, due to plantar fasciitis. The 15-time major champion claims to have no pain in his right ankle, but has withdrawn from two events, missed one cut, and finished 47th and T45th in his five starts over the last two years. While there will be no cut this week and this is a very limited field of only 20 golfers, Woods is too risky to consider despite his cheap $6,100 price tag. On the DraftKings Sportsbook, the Hero World Challenge host carries the worst odds to win this event at +7000.
Albany was designed by Ernie Els in 2010 and is a links-styled seaside venue that features very small greens, 52 bunkers, and water in play on five holes. Furthermore, this par 72 is a rare setup, as Albany is home to five par 4s, five par 5s, and eight par 4s. To succeed at this venue, you need to be in convincing form with your irons and as a short-game player, since missing these tiny greens is inevitable. Plus, with five par 5s on site, taking advantage of these scorable holes every round is essential if you want to contend at Albany. Of the seven victors at this Els’ design, six have finished the event top-five in par-five efficiency.
Viktor Hovland is the two-time defending champion of the Hero World Challenge and is unsurprisingly the favorite to win this week at +400 on the DraftKings Sportsbook. Considering these odds, his dominant history at Albany, and that he just won the FedEx Cup in August, Hovland should cost more than $10,600 on DraftKings — building around the 26-year-old is the right move this week. Below, I break down three of my favorite value plays to roster around Hovland, all of which cost less than $7.5K on DraftKings.
Sam Burns ($7,100) – Burns took the fall off, but made a great run during the FedEx Cup Playoffs this summer, finishing T15th at the BMW Championship and T9th at the TOUR Championship. In his past 10 starts, Burns has made eight cuts and carded six top-20 finishes. Additionally, the LSU product has gained strokes on approach in eight of his last 10 starts and impressively finished last season eighth in SGP.
Burns’ putting is especially elite on Bermuda grass. He ranks seventh in total strokes gained when we compare this field’s last 50 rounds at venues that present Bermuda greens. Adding to that, four of his five PGA TOUR wins have come at courses home to this type of putting surface. Burns finished T3 at the Hero World Challenge two years ago and has top-five upside this weekend — assuming he can maintain the elite combination of strong ball striking and putting he displayed during the summer.
Justin Rose ($6,900) – Excluding a withdrawal in 2017, Rose has teed it up five times at Albany and has finished inside the top-10 in four of those starts, most notably with a solo third-place finish in 2019. As for his current form, Rose has made seven of his last 10 cuts worldwide, including four top-25 finishes.
The English professional ranks top seven in SG: Approach, SG: Around-the-Green, and par-5 efficiency when we compare this field’s last 50 rounds. He’s a terrific choice at this cheap price tag.
Will Zalatoris ($6,600) – Zalatoris is making his first start since last March this week after having back surgery. Given these factors, the 27-year-old should be one of the least rostered players of this 20-man field. Surely, there is a ton of risk associated with Zalatoris, but the reward outweighs the risk at this low price point and he is the best contrarian play available for this limited-field event. This is the cheapest Zalatoris has been priced on DraftKings since 2018, and before electing for surgery last March, he was the eighth-ranked player in the world.
Even including his final few starts of last season in which he was clearly laboring, Zalatoris has finished T6 or better in six of his past 20 starts, including his breakthrough win at the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship — which, like Albany, is a venue that presents Bermuda greens. Zalatoris ranks fifth in total strokes gained when we analyze this field’s last 50 rounds at tracks with Bermuda putting surfaces, and he ranks fifth in both SG: Tee-to-Green and par-five efficiency over his past 50 rounds overall. Zalarotis clearly has the tools to thrive at Albany, and if he is fully healthy this week, the Wake Forest product should beat this low price tag with ease and finish inside the top 10.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) 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 skills 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.