Tiger Woods makes his long-awaited return at the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Albany, Bahamas, this week but the 82-time PGA TOUR winner doesn’t headline the best horses for this course.
Albany Golf Course, designed by Ernie Els in 2010, has been the site for this post-season invitational shootout since 2015. The wind-swept, links-style layout stretches 7,449 yards (par 72) and plays host for the eighth time in nine years.
TifEagle greens, averaging only 4,500 square feet, are abutted by fairways with massive landing areas. This second shot course will provide five par 5s and five par 3s to spice things up.
Host Woods is joined by 19 players ranking inside the top 40 in the Official World Golf Ranking, including two-time reigning champion Viktor Hovland. Brian Harman and Wyndham Clark will make their event debut, while Will Zalatoris returns to competition after a back injury forced him out of the Masters.
Horses for Courses
The last two events at Albany have provide Hovland (+400) with a launching point into the new calendar year. The Norwegian has posted seven of eight rounds in the 60s and has won each edition, including going wire-to-wire last year. Signing for 34 under aggregate in lifting the trophy, he’s won on his only two visits to the Bahamas. Posting 42 birdies and five eagles for a scoring average of 67.75, he has never sat worse than T8 after any round.
If it wasn’t for Hovland, Scottie Scheffler (+450) would be the recent king of the Hero World Challenge. The Texan, who hasn’t had any problems adapting to the blustery conditions, has posted a total of 31 under in his only two visits, both finishing solo second to the Norwegian. The world No. 1 also has produced 42 birdies over the last two editions and has a scoring average of 68.13. His exceptional tee-to-green game has translated at Albany.
Joining Hovland as the only other previous winner in this year’s field, Rickie Fowler (+2000) returns to one of his favorite sites. Unable to qualify for this event the last two years, he returns to a course where his worst payday over five tournaments was T9 in 2019. The first three events in Nassau found him on the podium each time, including closing with 61 to win the event in 2017. With 20 rounds on the books, 14 have posted in the 60s, resulting in a scoring average of 68.25.
Justin Thomas (+1400) will look to extend his streak of top-five finishes to four consecutive years at Albany. Posting 37 under aggregate over the last three years, his highlight is a closing-round 64 in the 2021 edition. From 20 career rounds, he’s posted eight in the 60s, including six of his last 12. Posting 25 birdies in 2021, he led the field.
When Englishman Justin Rose (+2800) isn’t enjoying his London gaff, he relaxes and practices at his home in Albany. The comfort factor has translated into results as the Ryder Cup stalwart has produced a top-10 payday in his last four attempts, including three consecutive top-five checks before T9 on his previous visit in 2021.
Runner-up in his debut in 2018, Tony Finau (+2200) will be looking to extend his streak of top-10 paydays to five this year. Posting rounds in the 60s in nine of his 16 loops at Albany, the big hitter carries a 69.38 scoring average, which includes an opening-round 79 in 2019, his only round above par in four visits.
Just as the winds come and go in the Bahamas, Jordan Spieth (+2200) will try and harness his swing to fit the conditions. In the first three editions at Albany, the Texan didn’t finish outside of the top six and totaled 43 under. In the last three editions, he has finished in the bottom five and has signed for only two rounds in the 60s (69 twice). Nobody has played more rounds (24) on this track at this event.
Making his first start since the 2019 edition, host Woods (+6600) has never won this event at Albany. On his last visit, he opened with 72, but rallied to post 14 under over the final 54 holes to claim fourth place, his best result and second top 10 payday in four starts.
Source : PGA Tour