It’s time for a trip to the Bahamas.
The biggest stars in the game are headed to Albany for a little getaway, where they’ll also play some golf.
Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge took a year off last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returns with an enormous amount of juice. Why you may ask?
Because Woods himself will be on-site all week. Oh, and we heard from him for the first time since his accident at his press conference Tuesday (first time for all media, his interview with Golf Digest earlier in the week was fantastic).
Another storyline to keep an eye on: Jordan Spieth is teeing it up for the first time since becoming a father. Say it with me, folks: Perspective.
Albany Golf Course
The Ernie Els design features a links-style layout, where the winning score will be somewhere around 18 under.
Data Golf has Strokes Gained: Approach as their far-and-away most important stat for the week, and it makes sense. If you look back at the players who have won at this golf course over the years (Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama), they’re all fantastic iron players.
At a course with relatively large fairways, I always like to keep an eye out for the bombers. I’m not saying you have to be a long-ball hitter to compete here, but distance doesn’t hurt when you need to go low to win.
Course Fit (compares golf courses based on the degree to which different golfer attributes — such as driving distance — to predict who performs well at each course – DataGolf): 1. PGA West (Palmer), 2. Warwick Golf and Country Club, 3. Detroit Golf Club
Trending (among the players in the field): 1. Justin Thomas (last three starts: 4, T-18, 3), 2. Bryson DeChambeau (T-31, 2, 7), 3. Rory McIlroy (T-14, 1, T-6)
Percent chance to win (based on course history, fit, trending, etc.): 1. Justin Thomas (8.7 percent), 2. Viktor Hovland (8.3 percent), 3. Bryson DeChambeau (7.9 percent)
Download this week’s episode to listen to Andy and my preview of the Hero World Challenge: Apple | Spotify
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds a full list.
We got killed at the RSM Classic with Russell Henley missing a top 20 finish by a shot. Good news: We’re still in the green over the last five events. We’re going to have to hit a winner pick this week with only 20 players in the field.
Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the CJ Cup golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The last time we saw Mr. McIlroy on the PGA Tour, he was lifting a trophy on the 18th green at the CJ Cup in Vegas. However, the last time we saw McIlroy on the golf course, he went full Hulk-mode on his shirt after finishing T-6 failing to convert on yet another 54-hole lead.
This will be McIlroy’s first appearance at Albany, but I think his game fits the course pretty well. Plus, when he’s in the field, I will bet on him. Every time.
Collin Morikawa of the United States celebrates with the Race To Dubai trophy following and the DP World Tour Championship trophy after winning the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 21, 2021, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Here’s my thinking: One of these two guys will finish in the top 5. If both hit, great. If not, we’ll still pocket some cash.
Morikawa will become the No. 1 player in the world if he wins in the Bahamas this week. He’d become the second-fastest player in history to reach the top – you could probably guess who was the fastest.
His last start ended with new hardware for his trophy case.
Matt Fitzpatrick of England tees off on the 10th hole during the first round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course on October 28, 2021 in Southampton, . (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
I wanted to select a guy who comes into the week under the radar. Great in the wind, fantastic ball-striker, and can absolutely roll it.
Fitzy won in Spain a month and a half ago, and finished runner-up to Morikawa in Dubai in his last start.
The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year will play with Sean O’Hair.
Players had a lot to say about Woods’ statements.
As a painful year nears its close, a surprisingly upbeat Tiger Woods is facing down his future head-on.
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