By News Team
Last Updated: 3rd December 2019
We head to the Bahamas and Albany for the Hero World Challenge this week. As has become customary, a strong 18-man field has been assembled for the event hosted by Tiger Woods, though it’s not as strong as it perhaps could have been with Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson all missing.
Here is our preview of the final event of the year on the PGA Tour, which gets under way on Wednesday.
Recent winner Rahm the one to beat at Albany
Given he was victorious in Dubai last month and in doing so became the Race To Dubai winner, Jon Rahm is the rightful favourite here at 4/1. He has won his last two tournaments, is the defending champion and has a very good record in events where he has previous winning form.
However, if there is one criticism of the big-hitting Spaniard, it would be that he has, on occasions, struggled to put events on the PGA Tour to bed. That combined with the fact he’s just 4/1 to beat 17 other top-class players are big enough worries to leave him out of the staking plan.
Style of event looks sure to suit Schauffele
Rahm is most definitely feared, but he is passed up in favour of Xander Schauffele at a very juicy 9/1. The world number nine is fast becoming one of the most consistent players in the world and having finished in a tie for 10th at the Zozo Championship and then losing to McIlroy in a play-off in China on his two most recent starts, the 26-year-old comes into this in strong form. What was more impressive about that runner-up finish in China was that he was battling flu throughout the week, so the fact he came so close to winning was a superb effort.
Schauffele’s record in these no cut, limited field events is quite superb and he can be expected to improve on his tie for eighth last year, where he was always playing catch-up after an opening round of 73. To play the final three rounds in 12-under suggested he quickly got attuned to the what Albany is about and he’ll look to build on that, especially with next week’s Presidents Cup on the horizon. Though he hasn’t played in nearly five weeks, that’s less time than a lot of his rivals, and he proved when winning the Tournament Of Champions at the start of the year that a lay-off is no issue to him.
With five par-fives on the course, scoring on the longer holes is going to be crucial and given he was sixth in par-five scoring last season and 17th on tour for birdie or better percentage, Schauffele clearly has the tools to tame this week’s test.
That 9/1 could look very big indeed come Saturday evening…