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 $1M) 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 with world No. 2 Scottie Scheffler and world No. 5 Jon Rahm both in attendance. Last year’s champion Viktor Hovland is also in the field as is Tony Finau, who picked up his third win of 2022 a couple of weeks ago in Houston.
Unfortunately for golf fans everywhere, Tiger Woods (Plantar Fascia) withdrew from this event early Monday. He is set to play the next two weeks. First in the Match (exhibition) next week with Rory McIlroy and then a father and son event with his son Charlie. Sepp Straka replaced Woods in the field for the Hero.
Albany Golf Course, Bahamas
Par 72, 7,400 yards
This is the seventh-time this course will be used for the Hero World Challenge. 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, with over 50 bunkers in play throughout the property. Els himself described it as a venue which mimics some of the classic links designs from Scotland — even comparing it in layout to St. Andrews at one point.
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). While the par 5s may give longer hitters a better shot at landing an eagle throughout the week, the lack of par 4s actually diminishes the advantage good drivers of the golf ball have. Over time, we’ve seen this play out as players like Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson — who rely more on their irons and short game — have all experienced solid success at Albany.
Lots of different styles have thrived at Albany, but one thing that many of the past winners have had in common is good links experience. Wind is almost always a factor at Albany just given its relative closeness to the sea, and with smaller greens in play, solid approach and iron play should get hyper-emphasized once again for statistical purposes.
This is certainly a week not to get too drowned out in stats either. We don’t get a ton of shot-data from this venue and most players will be coming in with varying form, and some with little to no competitive practice over the past two months. Looking for players with good strokes gained data in windy conditions, or players who have simply thrived overseas on links styled venues isn’t a poor idea at all. Each of the past four winners of this event finished T3 or better at the Open Championship at some point in their career, and pure links tests like St. Andrews and Carnoustie are great courses to use as comparables this week.
2022 Weather Update: The weather this week does look like it could get interesting in spots. There are winds forecasted for over 15 mph on all four days with Friday afternoon seeing the biggest gusts, as winds are forecasted to exceed 20 mph in spots. The highs for the week are a perfect 80 degrees Fahrenheit and there’s little to no rain expected, with Friday being the only day where a small shower may develop. Overall, expect serene conditions but with the wind making this event a bit of a grind and giving the advantage back to experienced links players once again.
Last 5 winners
2021—Viktor Hovland -18 (over Scottie Scheffler -17)
2020—no event due to COVID-19
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)
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2021 Winner: Viktor Hovland -18
(2021 lead-in: T18-T44-T5-T17-T43)
- Hovland continued his fondness for grabbing wins at more tropical locales at this event last season, grabbing the win over Scottie Scheffler by one stroke.
- The American dominated with superior iron control for the most part and has started to define himself as a player who likes windy venues, given he also grabbed a top finish at the Open earlier in the season.
- Hovland had played in a couple of fall series events prior to winning but didn’t have a busy schedule (compared to many players) and certainly had a larger break between events.
- Last year was also Hovland’s first time playing Albany, which perhaps speaks to how well suited it is for players who have good fondness for the links.
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.
Tom Kim +1600 and $6,500
- Tommy Fleetwood +1800 and $7,300
- Collin Morikawa +1800 and $6,900
Tony Finau +900 and $9,300
- Justin Thomas +1100 and $10,200
- Xander Schauffele +1000 and $9,900
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jon Rahm ($10,700; best finish: win-2018): He won this event in the fall of 2018 and finished second in the fall of 2019. Rahm blistered this venue each of the last two times he’s played it and comes in this year off wins on the DP World Tour in two of his last three starts.
2. Tony Finau ($9,300; best finish: second - 2018): Finau finished second to Jon Rahm at this event in 2018 and also landed a solid seventh at this event last year, shooting rounds of 66 and 68 in the process. He’s improved his short game and putting immensely since he last played here and offers tons of appeal right now at well under $10,000
3. Jordan Spieth ($7,500; best finish: T3 - 2017): Spieth had a nice run at this event from 2015 to 2017, where he landed three top-5 finishes, including a T3 in 2017. He’s a great wind/links player that offers some tournament appeal.
1. Viktor Hovland ($10,800; T10-T21): The winner of this event from last year leads this field in strokes gained total stats over the last six weeks. He’s finished T15 or better in three of his last four PGA TOUR starts.
2. Scottie Scheffler ($7,800; T9-T3): Scheffler didn’t get a win over the fall, but he still put up some solid results, finishing T3 in Mexico and T9 in Houston. He’s ranked second in this field in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds.
3. Collin Morikawa ($6,900; T15-T29): Morikawa may not have put up many big results of late but his game does feel like it’s slowly starting to round into form. His T15 in Mexico was his best result of the fall, and he’s now gained strokes around the greens in two straight events.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Roll with Rahm
Jon Rahm has landed over 100.00 DKFP in each of his last four starts and clearly likes the wide open style of this venue, grabbing a win and second place showing in his last two visits to Albany. Pairing him with the ultra-cheap Tom Kim ($6,500) gives you a high upside pairing to start with. This will be Kim’s first time playing in Tiger’s event but given how we have seen Viktor Hovland handle this venue (a win last season in his first visit), there’s no reason not to be bullish on Kim this year either. Hovland ($8,700) and Shane Lowry ($7,000) are two other potential targets to think on for this format.
Tournaments: Get unique with Thomas
Despite a slow fall to date, Thomas really does set up as the ultimate contrarian play at the top of the board this week (see below). He won’t be the only lower-owned player above $7,500, though, and using Thomas with a player like Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,300) — who is coming in a little under the radar after skipping most of the fall swing events — would make for a nice low-owned/high-upside pairing to start with. If the course plays tougher than expected due to wind, Fitzpatrick has the kind of short game that can excel in those conditions and he did shoot 68-69 on the weekend at this event last year. Open Championship runner-up Cameron Young ($6,700) is another potential target for this week.
MY PICK: Justin Thomas ($10,200)
Thomas hasn’t played much golf this fall which should really keep his ownership suppressed in larger field GPPs. The American doesn’t have the kind of links success that some of the other top players in this field do, but he’s also played Albany three times in his career now and produced a career best T5 finish at this event in 2021.
From a style standpoint, Thomas really shouldn't be a poor fit for this course either. He ranks first in strokes gained around the greens stats over the last 50 rounds in this field and his iron play is still among the most elite in the game. Even if his stats have taken a slight drift downwards, a rested Thomas should be motivated this week to go for a win at his idol’s event. This is also a player who is not unfamiliar to playing overseas as he’s grabbed wins in Hawaii, Malaysia and South Korea over his career. Using him as an anchor play in bigger field tournament lineups gives you access to great upside with what should be far lower ownership attached than several of the other big name players.
MY SLEEPER: Tommy Fleetwood ($7,300)
Fleetwood has had a nice fall and just a solid 2022 in general. He finished top 10 at the PGA Championship and Open Championship last season and grabbed a win on the DP World Tour just a few weeks ago against a decent field in South Africa — his first professional win in over two years. The Englishman knows how to handle the links and the connection this event has with the Open Championship certainly works in his favor. He’s finished top-5 at that event multiple times and has numerous other top finishes at links venues throughout Europe.
Fleetwood’s lack of distance won’t disadvantage him as it sometimes does at other longer PGA Tour venues, and he was able to grab a T3 finish at this venue in 2017, in his only career start at this event. Fleetwood’s last time out against PGA Tour level competition saw him gain 8.2 strokes around the green and putting combined, and he’s certainly brewing with confidence right now. At just over 7k, targeting him this week makes a ton of sense both in DFS and on the DraftKings Sportsbook where he’s sitting at +1800 in the outright odds.
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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.