Out of the Rough: The Hero World Challenge (2022)
Although we are in the midst of no full field events heading into the new year, we get some meaningful golf this upcoming week.
Twenty of the world’s top golfers as well as bright up-and-comers, and a guy named Tiger Woods, will take to Albany in the Bahamas.
Woods is the main attraction as he makes his first return since The Open Championship earlier this year.
The 82-time PGA Tour winner played just three times last year including The Open after recovering from a near-fatal car accident in 2021. Woods plays host to this event as well.
Viktor Hovland is the defending champion of the event where he held off Scottie Scheffler’s too-little-too-late attempt on the back nine on Sunday a year ago.
No FedEx Cup points will be awarded this week but there are oWGR points up for grabs.
Although it is a limited field, there is still a $3.5 million purse up for grabs.
Albany is a Ernie Els design and has hosted this very same event for the last seven years.
It’s a par 72 that plays at roughly 7,414 yards.
Water hazards and windswept dunes as just a few of the defenses that are pressed against the twenty golfers in this links style course.
The course features five par-fives and five par-threes as well, making both lengths must haves for any potential winner.
As for weather this week highs are set for the low 80’s across the event. The highest chance for precipitation is Friday at 40-percent. Wind will of course be a factor, ranging from 15 miles-per-hour on Thursday and peaking at 22 miles-per-hour on both Friday and Saturday.
Key statistics to consider this week include Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP,) Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT,) Par Five Scoring, Par Three Scoring, Birdie or Better Percentage and Average Driving Distance.
With such a limited field I’ll only be offering one golfer per price range. Leading off the top price range is Jon Rahm ($10,700.) Rahm is a past winner of this event, claiming victory in 2019 and following it up with a runner-up finish in 2020. Following the fall swing of the PGA Tour season, Rahm is currently second on Tour in birdie or better percentage, third in SG: OTT, 12th in average driving distance, 14th in par three scoring, 30th in par five scoring and 43rd in SG: APP. Rahm has played in one event this far this season and that was at The CJ Cup in South Carolina where he placed T4th.
My favorite this week is the red hot Tony Finau ($9,300.) I’m a bit surprised by his pricing coming off a win at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. On the season Finau is currently second in par three scoring, fifth in SG: APP, SG: OTT and birdie or better percentage. He’s also 12th in par five scoring and 126th in average driving distance. Finau also has some success at this tournament placing second in 2019. If we know anything from Finau as of late, he’s put the runner-up trend behind him and is now winning on Tour. This could be another event he wins after being a runner-up in the past.
Last year’s U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,300) is my choice in this price range. Fitzpatrick has played in one tournament so far this season where he took T13th at The CJ Cup in South Carolina. On the season he’s currently second in par five scoring, fourth in SG: OTT, fifth in par three scoring and tenth in average driving distance. He’s currently 117th in SG: APP which he is obviously better in than that result of one tournament states. He’s a former major winner for a reason.
Sungjae Im ($7,800) is my choice here. It’s odd to be in this price range and talking about Im but in this very limited star-filled field here we are. Im has played in three tournaments this far this season where he’s gone seventh at the Shriners Children’s Open, T29th at the Zozo Championship and T34th at The CJ Cup in South Carolina. On the season he’s currently seventh in SG: OTT, tenth in par five scoring, 59th in average driving distance, 88th in birdie or better, 112th in par three scoring and 114th in SG: APP.
This final price range has me excited with being able to use Collin Morikawa ($6,900.) Like Im, Morikawa has played in three tournaments on the season with placing T45th at the Zozo Championship, T29th at The CJ Cup in South Carolina and T15th at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. He’s currently 12th on tour in par five scoring, 13th in SG: APP, 22nd in both SG: OTT and par three scoring and 71st in birdie or better percentage. He is well below average in average driving distance which is no big issue. It is a benefit at this course but not a death sentence.