This is a tiny 20-man, invite-only field. The event is sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and none of the prize money (first is a million) counts towards the PGA TOUR’s money list. Some OWGR ranking points are awarded, though, which is interesting considering how limited the field is. The good news for fantasy is there is not a cut, but the bad news is that in such a small field, there’s really no room for error with your choices.
Player-wise, we have an incredibly strong field, though, with world No. 2 Collin Morikawa, world No. 4 Xander Schauffele and world No. 6 Justin Thomas all playing this week. Both Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will be in action here after competing in their exhibition “Match” against each other over the Thanksgiving holiday. The last winner of this event, Henrik Stenson, is here but has been struggling to find top form ever since grabbing the win here in 2019.
Albany Golf Course, Bahamas
Par 72, 7,400 yards
This is only the sixth time this course will have been used for the Hero World Challenge, and that is important to note since we only have a few years of small fields and course data to go off. The Albany Golf Course is an Ernie Els design and sets up as a very exposed, links-styled venue. There’s some serious bunkering on the course, too, and Els himself described it as a course which mimics some of the classic links venues from Scotland.
The course is also quite dissimilar from most PGA TOUR venues in that it is actually a par 72 but has five par 5s and five par 3s (and only eight par 4s), seemingly giving the good par 5 scorer’s here an advantage. What is certain is being in the Bahamas on an exposed course means the wind can and will be a factor. Players who hit it long and can handle some expected gusts should have an edge this weekend, but at this point in the year, any player who comes in with solid form will have a shot in what is essentially a big-stakes exhibition for the world’s best players.
Good course comparisons likely include most of The Open venues, particularly pure links test like St. Andrews and Carnoustie. It’s also worth noting the last winner here was Henrik Stenson, the winner of The Open from back in 2016. Jon Rahm (2018 winner and 2019 runner-up) is also a great links player with a great Open Championship record.
As of writing, the weather looks great for the week, with gusts staying below 10 mph the first two days, then picking up on Sunday where it might hit 15-20 mph in spots. A winning score of between 18 and 20 under par — similar to the last two seasons — is a probably a good target.
2021 Weather Update: The temperatures look ideal for this week, which is likely what we should expect given we are in the Bahamas. Highs in the low 80s with mostly sunny skies are the norm for this year’s version with no bad weather in site. Winds will creep up to 10 mph or slightly above most days, which will likely be just enough to be a factor on this very open course. The last four winners here have been between 18 to 20 under par, and with some wind in the forecast, I’d expect a sub-20 under par winner most likely again.
Last 5 winners
2019—Henrik Stenson -18 (over Jon Rahm -17)
2018—Jon Rahm -20 (over Tony Finau -16)
2017—Rickie Fowler -18 (over Charley Hoffman -14)
2016—Hideki Matsuyama -18 (over Henrik Stenson -16)
2015—Bubba Watson -25 (over Patrick Reed -22)
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2019 Winner: Henrik Stenson
(2019 lead-in: T44-T17-T20-MC-T17)
- Stenson was a bit of a surprise winner but also one that tells us about how this course works. The 2016 Open winner is a great links player and not long off the tee.
- Stenson went eight under on the par 5s for the week but only made two bogies on the other holes.
- We’ve seen other great iron players, like Hideki Matsuyama, dominate here before and another great wind/links player in Rickie Fowler also have success here.
- If you’re targeting the bottom of the board for betting or DFS this week, worry less about power and look for players with good records at Open-style venues.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Viktor Hovland +1100 and $9,900
- Bryson DeChambeau +1200 and $9,300
- Xander Schauffele +1200 and $8,700
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Patrick Reed ($6,400; best finish: second - 2015): He has played this event each year it’s taken place at Albany. He finished T3 in the last edition (2019, when he had three rounds of 66) and has finished in the top five here the last two iterations.
2. Justin Rose ($6,100; best finish: third - 2018): Rose is a Bahamas resident, so this climate will be more than familiar to him. He’s also played this event each year it has been held in the Bahamas and finished T5 here last season. He’s recorded a T12 and a T6 finish in his last four starts.
3. Jordan Spieth ($8,300; best finish: T3 - 2017): Spieth had a nice run at this event from 2015 to 2017, where he landed three top-five finishes, including a T3 in 2017. He’s a great wind/links player and will be playing here for the first time since returning to his best form early in 2021.
1. Rory McIlroy ($10,800; T6-win): McIlroy won against a similar type of field (in a larger event) last month at THE CJ CUP and is coming off a T6 finish at the DP World Championship (on the Euro TOUR), where he had the lead going into Sunday. It will be his first appearance in Albany for this event, but he’s in top form right now.
2. Scottie Scheffler ($7,800; T57-T2): Scheffler is still waiting on his breakout PGA TOUR win, but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up top finishes. He grabbed fourth and T2 finishes at Mayakoba and Houston in the fall, respectively, and looks competitively sharp enough to take on this elite field.
3. Viktor Hovland ($9.900; win-T18): Hovland racked up his third PGA win this fall with his triumph in Mayakoba. All three of his first three PGA wins have come off the mainland USA and at tropical, seaside venues. It’s his first visit to Albany, but he should take to this week’s venue quickly.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Roll with Rory
As mentioned above and below, Rory McIlroy ($10,800) looks to be in fine form right now and won’t be hard to fit into lineups this week given the amount of value we have in the lower range. Pairing him with the in-form Scottie Scheffler ($7,800) gives you a decent average cost to begin lineups with. Other potential values to consider for this format include Webb Simpson ($6,700) and Justin Rose ($6,100).
Tournaments: Bring it with Bryson
The sentiment on Bryson DeChambeau ($9,300) here will be low after he gassed out quickly vs. Brooks Koepka ($6,800) in The Match. That event shouldn't have any bearing on this week, though, and DeChambeau still ranks first in this field in birdie or better percentage over the last 50 rounds. Other GPP plays to consider here include Jordan Spieth ($8,300) and Tyrrell Hatton ($6,500 - see below).
MY PICK: Rory McIlroy ($10,800)
It’s safe to say McIlroy might be a little miffed this week after he blew a Sunday lead at the DP World Championships. He has looked rejuvenated since the Ryder Cup, though, following a weaker summer run, and could easily have two wins in two starts if not for his weaker closing round last Sunday. McIlroy will be playing at Albany for the first time since this event moved to the Bahamas, but he certainly isn't a player to shy away from a shootout, or a links style venue.
On top of being an Open winner (2014), he’s also grabbed wins in Dubai (multiple) and comes into this event ranked second in birdie or better percentage over the last 50 rounds and ranked second in strokes gained tee-to-green stats over the last 24 rounds. He had to watch a younger version of himself in Collin Morikawa ($10,600) grab yet another win last week and should be motivated for a little quick revenge here at Woods’ event.
MY SLEEPER: Tyrrell Hatton ($6,500)
Whenever we have a true links golf course in play and Tyrrell Hatton in the field, it’s always a good idea to give him a hard look. Hatton will be making his debut at this event this week and is coming off just a T16 last week in the limited-field DP Tour Championship event on the Euro TOUR. His recent form may not jump off the page, but Hatton has already played six times this fall, so he should be competitively sharp.
He also grabbed a T2 at the beginning of the fall over in the Alfred Dunhill Links event (played on the Old Course), which is played on a venue with good correlation to the one we’re getting here. Hatton isn’t likely to be heavy chalk this week and makes for a nice GPP target at an event that has seen plenty of shorter hitters with good links pedigree, excel over the years.
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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat. (CT).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.