Golf Betting Tips and Player Options for the Hero World Challenge
We don't have an official PGA Tour event in the Hero World Challenge, but I'm actually more excited about this tournament than most since the field is so rich with talent. Players are competing in Albany, Bahamas, next week, in an event that has been going on since 2000 when Tom Lehman won the inaugural edition. The Albany Golf Course has been the destination for this tournament since 2015 when Bubba Watson blasted a -25, and that number is still the best score that we have seen on this track to date. The 2020 installment of the Hero World Challenge was unfortunately canceled due to the global pandemic, so it will be awesome to have this elite field tournament back for 2021. We have a field size of just 20 golfers, and there will of course be no cut line to navigate after round 2.
There's $3.5M available to be won for this year's Hero World Challenge, the winner takes home $1M but doesn't receive any FedEx Cup points since this isn't an official PGA Tour event. The Albany Golf Course is 7,309 yards in length, is a par 72, and the greens are Bermudagrass. The average winning score here since 2015 is -19.8, so expect something in and around -20 - three of the past five years the winning score has been -18, so the winner will likely finish between -18 and -20 if history repeats itself. The tournament record as previously mentioned is -25 and is held by Bubba Watson when he tore the course apart in 2015, and while it's possible that we will see that topped, don't count on it as that score is quite remarkable. Place bets on golfers who are solid around the greens, can hit a long ball, can putt well, especially on Bermudagrass, have a sound tee to green game, and are accurate from the tee blocks.
Increase your odds for winning each one of your golf bets by using projected PGA Tour player stats and finishes.
Three questions I have regarding the 2021 Hero World Challenge:
1. Will a past winner come out on top? Past winners here who are in the field this year include Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Jordan Spieth. Will one of them win? Perhaps, but I would be a lot more confident in a repeat champ if 2018 winner Jon Rahm was in this week, but unfortunately, he's not. We will likely have a brand new winner of this event, but there is a chance that Matsuyama or Spieth will become a two-time champ - Stenson, not so much.
2. Do the key stats really matter for this event? I offered up some key stats above, but the truth is, only strokes gained: around the greens, driving distance, and perhaps strokes gained: putting are actually relevant. The paths to success here have been very different from year to year, but strokes gained: approach and birdie or better percentage should also be examined if you build custom models.
3. How many players to bet on? With such a small field and limited betting options for this tournament (most sportsbooks only have an outright wager option), you will likely only want to bet one to three players. Lean heavily on recent results, take a look at the strokes gained stats for each player, and determine which player or players make sense to wager on. Keep in mind that Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele have mostly won in small field events, so they could be popular betting options given that fact.
Below I list all 20 golfers competing, their outright odds, insights into each one, and which ones I would bet on
1. Rory McIlroy (+750) - McIlroy is hot right now with three top 6's in his last four starts between the PGA Tour and the European Tour including his win at THE CJ CUP last month and he's fresh off a T6 at the DP World Tour Championship. His stats are looking rather impressive at the moment except for a less-than-average approach game, but everything else checks out including his putter which has been hot since the Olympics. He is an interesting target since he's playing great golf, but he could slip through the cracks a bit since he surprisingly doesn't have any experience at this event. Worth doing an outright wager? I don't think I'll bet him, but he could certainly come out on top.
2. Collin Morikawa (+750) - Speaking of hot, Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship last week on the European Tour and he has finished no worse than T7 over his last three starts. He went through a tough stretch due to a back injury, but his solid approach game appears to be back along with his putter. We don't have shot tracker stats over his last two starts, but I expect that they would check out quite well considering he won and finished T7. Worth doing an outright wager? Absolutely, he knows how to win and could become the world's top-ranked player in 2022.
3. Viktor Hovland (+1000) - Morikawa isn't the only golfer who's coming off a win - Hovland defended his title at Mayakoba earlier this month, and now has two wins in his last eleven starts between the PGA Tour and the European Tour. He's one of the best ball-strikers that the PGA Tour boasts, and when his short game is working, he's typically in the mix to finish top 10. Worth doing an outright wager? He might be a popular betting option for this event, but I'm not on him due to his short odds.
4. Justin Thomas (+1000) - He's an excellent approach player, almost always gains with his ball-striking, and when his putter is working for him, then he's typically in the mix to win. He has three top 4's in his last five starts, excels in small field events, and finished T5 here two years ago. Worth doing an outright wager? Tough call, but I'm leaning towards yes since he's overdue for a win, he's in fine form now, and he's a close friend of Tiger's and was deeply distraught when he got into his accident, so I can see him being very motivated to win for his hero.
5. Jordan Spieth (+1100) - The 2014 winner of the Hero World Challenge hasn't won on this particular course, but he had a T3 in 2017, a 4th in 2015, and a T6 in 2016, so he can obviously play this track quite well. He hasn't been overly impressive since his runner-up finish at The Open Championship in mid-July, and his stats have been inconsistent compared to his huge stretch between February and July. Worth doing an outright wager? No, he needs to figure out every facet of his game all over again.
6. Bryson DeChambeau (+1100) - We haven't seen DeChambeau play since the Tour Championship where he finished 7th, he had a runner-up at the BMW Championship the week before that, and has three top 8's in his last four starts. He's the best off the tee player in the world and is a very good putter, as well. He is going head-to-head against his arch-nemesis, Brooks Koepka, later today, so I would advise seeing how he fares there before deciding if he's worth betting on next week since he hasn't competed in over two and a half months. Worth doing an outright wager? Take a wait-and-see approach for now, but I'm leaning towards no, plus he only has a T12 and a 15th here since 2018.
7. Xander Schauffele (+1200) - The 2021 Olympic men's champion hasn't been so great since in six starts with only one top 10, and it came at the Tour Championship. His approach game still looks good, but he has been lacking off the tee and with his short game. He has a T8 and a 10th here, and has lost strokes to the field overall. I normally like him in the small field tournaments, but I don't in this one, at least this year I don't. Worth doing an outright wager? No.
8. Scottie Scheffler (+1400) - He was sort of ho-hum from late June to mid-October until his 4th at Mayakoba and he followed that up with a T2 at the Houston Open where he gained 11.36 strokes tee to green. We are still waiting for him to earn his first PGA Tour win, and I don't see it coming at this event in a stacked field with no course history, plus he's coming off a T57 at The RSM Classic where he lost strokes across the board except for a small 0.93 gain off the tee. Worth doing an outright wager? No, his time will come to hoist a PGA Tour tournament trophy, but it probably won't happen at the 2021 Hero World Challenge.
9. Sam Burns (+1400) - His star keeps shining brighter and brighter as he has five top 8's in his last eight starts including winning the Sanderson Farms Championship, finishing T2 at the WGC - FedEx St.Jude Invitational, and he's coming off a T7 at the Houston Open. Every part of his game is in fine shape right now, and he seems to be a threat almost every time he tees it up. He has already won twice this year, and is an intriguing option to win for the third time before 2022 rolls around. Worth doing an outright wager? He hasn't won a big tournament just yet, but could be in the mix to win something sizable in 2022 and beyond. I think he's worth an outright wager, but I wouldn't lay down a ton of coin.
10. Daniel Berger (+1400) - He's a consistently high finisher, he won at Pebble Beach last season, is an amazing approach player, and is pretty tight with his short game too. He has three top 8's in his last seven starts including a T7 at the U.S. Open and an 8th at The Open Championship. We haven't seen Berger in competitive play since the Tour Championship, so I do wonder how he's playing right now, but he tends to play strong after long breaks, so that's a comforting fact. He had a T14 here four years ago and lost 6.67 strokes total, so that isn't a positive result by any means, but the second time could be a charm. Worth doing an outright wager? He's not a bad option by any means as I really like him from a statistical perspective, but I won't be betting Berger since I don't see him winning.
11. Tony Finau (+1800) - I was so happy for Finau when he won THE NORTHERN TRUST last season for his first legit PGA Tour win, but since then he hasn't been nearly as good in five starts with no top 10's and he's coming off a missed cut at the Houston Open. He had a T10 here two years ago and was runner-up three years ago, so he has proven that he can compete at this tournament, but his recent form and stat profile have me bearish on him. Worth doing an outright wager? He more than likely won't win, so I don't like him as an outright bet.
12. Abraham Ancer (+1800) - Ancer won for the first time on the PGA Tour eight starts ago at the WGC - FedEx St.Jude Invitational thanks to an incredible approach and short game - typical of his style, but it was amplified that week in August. He has fared pretty well since then too with three top 9's in his last six starts, and he has been inside the top 27 seven times in his last nine starts. He probably won't win, but a top 5 is certainly possible. Worth doing an outright wager? I wouldn't pull the trigger on a bet backing him to win this week, but I wouldn't fault you for throwing down a few bucks on Mexico's top player.
13. Webb Simpson (+2000) - He cashes in quite often when he laces up his golf shoes - regularly finishing in the teens, 20's, or 30's, and he pops for top 10's every so often, as well. Simpson has six top 19's in his last nine starts including a T8 last week at The RSM Classic where he gained an astonishing 9.84 strokes on approach - it's too bad his putter let him down though, as he could have easily had a top 5. He finished T10 here two years ago, and has two other top 7's at this event, but they came prior to the Bahamas' play. Worth doing an outright wager? I doubt he will win so I'm not betting him, but he's worth a look in DFS if you play on DraftKings or elsewhere.
14. Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200) - His play in North America hasn't been too remarkable lately, but he won on the European Tour last month and finished T2 last week at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. His game looks to be in respectable shape, but whether that will translate in the Bahamas is another story. Worth doing an outright wager? He has yet to win on the PGA Tour, and that win-less streak will more than likely stretch past this event, so I'm out on Fitz until sometime in 2022.
15. Brooks Koepka (+2200) - Nothing much doing for Koepka since his 6th at The Open Championship and he's coming off of back-to-back missed cuts, so there's not much to like about Brooks right now. Add to it that he's in tough against DeChambeau today in The Match, and his confidence could be reduced even further for the Hero World Challenge if he loses to Bryson. He also hasn't been very good at all at this event with a 7th, a T13, and an 18th between 2015 and 2017. Worth doing an outright wager? A big fat no, but come talk to me about him when it's time to gear up for next year's major tournaments.
16. Tyrrell Hatton (+2200) - He has some okay finishes on the PGA Tour and the European Tour over the past few months, but doesn't have a top 15 on the PGA Tour since June. He has been relying on a short game to carry him for quite a while now, and I much prefer ball-strikers, so my interest in him is minimal until he finds his approach game again. Worth doing an outright wager? He has no appeal to me but could have a top 10 finish if his short game stays strong.
17. Justin Rose (+3000) - He has three top 12's in his last five starts between the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but those are spread out since mid-August, so he hasn't been playing too much since the Summer. Something worth pointing out is that he has finished no worse than T5 here since 2017, so he has the course history variable working in his favor, at least. Worth doing an outright wager? I'm 99% sure that he won't win, so there's no point in betting Rose.
18. Harris English (+3000) - English has won twice this year and has several other top 5 and top 10 finishes, so it has been a spectacular career year for him. He hasn't been playing at an elite level though since early August when he placed 4th at the WGC - FedEx St.Jude Invitational including missing the cut twice in his last three starts, and he has a withdraw in between them. Nothing notable right now for Harris, but maybe he will have a fruitful 2022. Worth doing an outright wager? No, he's not worth betting, but at least there will be a guaranteed paycheck for him after round 4.
19. Patrick Reed (+3500) - Reed has played this tournament every time it has been in the Bahamas since 2015 and has finished anywhere from runner-up to T11 including having three top 5's. If he was in stronger recent form then his odds would be a lot shorter, but he only has one top 10 in his last fourteen starts and that was at the Bermuda Championship in a very weak field. I fully expect him to have his worst finish here ever, unless he can quickly find his game. Worth doing an outright wager? He's not worth betting on, but better times are ahead for the Texan tornado.
20. Henrik Stenson (+5000) - The defending champ has been mostly terrible since his 2019 win and only has one top 20 to his name on the PGA Tour since which came at the Zurich Classic - a team match-play tournament. He's 0 for 2 so far this season, and I can only see him finishing anywhere from 18th to 20th - no title defense for you (in the Soup Nazi's voice). Worth a wager? No, no, no, a thousand times no.
STAY IN TOUCH
Sign up for BettingData's newsletter and get awesome content sent to your inbox.
We'll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise.
Jeremy has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 successful years, and actively plays golf, hockey, baseball, and table tennis. He has over three years of fantasy sports writing experience - including writing a daily fantasy sports strategies and tools eBook in 2016. He is an active member of DraftKings - specializing in NHL and PGA contests over the past 5 years. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to hot places in the frigid Canadian Winters, binge-watching on Netflix, and starting and managing digital businesses.