We get two straight weeks of Tiger Woods as Big Cat takes his talents to the Bahamas a week after his. Woods will play host at the 2018 Hero World Challenge, and he’ll have quite a field in attendance.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Hero World Challenge | When: Nov. 29 – Dec. 2
Where: Albany — New Providence (Bahamas)
Ranking the field (odds)
- Justin Rose (7-1): I know the rankings change every week, but Rose is the best player in the world right now.
- Rickie Fowler (9-1): The defending champ has to win at some point in 2018, right? Right?! He’s also finished top three here in each of the last three years.
- Justin Thomas (9-1): On a random December weekend, I’m not sure there’s anyone I’d pick above him. Ride the talent here.
- Dustin Johnson (8-1): I get it, but I also get that he finished T14 here last year at E.
- Tony Finau (16-1): Coming in off two finishes outside the top 15 following six straight inside of it.
- Tiger Woods (9-1): He played well here last year and is benefitted by the wide fairways, but he did not look very good last week at Shadow Creek.
- Bryson DeChambeau (10-1): You know he is grinding to win an event hosted by Tiger.
- Patrick Reed (18-1): Might be the sharpest guy in the field after playing so much on the European Tour at the end of the year (he finished T2 at the World Tour Championship). Top five in three of the last four years at this event.
- Hideki Matsuyama (22-1): He finished T5 last year, and won it in 2017. Would be a nice ending for him to a season that has trended in the proper direction following an early injury.
- Jon Rahm (12-1): His first appearance here, but he’s coming off a T4 at the World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Field strength — A: It’s an elite field when Jon Rahm is in the No. 10 slot here. I’m ready for it after the fall slate.
Three stories to watch
1. One year for Tiger: Can you believe it’s been a whole year since Tiger Woods began his most recent comeback? Last year’s Hero World Challenge feels like it happened a decade ago, but no, it was just 12 months ago that Woods shot 69-68-75-68 to finish T9 and give some glimmer of what was to come in 2018. I’m intrigued to see how much — if at all — he talks about that this week.
2. One win in 2018? Golfers who, maybe surprisingly, don’t have a win anywhere in the world in 2018: Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Cantlay. Those five have a chance to join the other 13 in the field as winners of at least one official event before the calendar flips here in about a month.
3. Tight finish? The last four editions of this tournament have been relative snoozers. Average winning margin: 4.8. In fact, the entire history of the event hasn’t exactly been spectacular when it comes to photo finishes. Only five times in 19 tournaments has the winning margin been one stroke or a playoff. Every other time, it’s been two or more. That’s likely because the field is so small, but I’d still like to see a nice, tight Sunday showdown.
- 2017: Rickie Fowler
- 2016: Hideki Matsuyama
- 2015: Bubba Watson
- 2014: Jordan Spieth
- 2013: Zach Johnson
Hero World Challenge picks
Winner: I refuse to live in a world where this man doesn’t take home at least one golf tournament trophy in 2018. Odds: 16-1
Top 10: Rose in a 18-golfer field — even with these stellar players — is as close to a lock as you can get for a top-10 finish. Odds: 7-1
Sleeper: Sleeper is a pretty liberal term, but Stenson has finished second in two of the last four years here and has some of the lowest odds in the field. Odds: 25-1