DFS preview and picks for the Hero World Challenge
Course: Albany Golf Club (New Providence, Bahamas)
Yardage: 7,302 – Par 72
Purse : $3.5 M
Field: 18 Players
Recent Hero World Challenge Winners
I hope everybody had a fun and safe Thanksgiving with minimal drama. When we last left off, Charles Howell III was taking the podium for the first time in 11 years! Howell III beat out the majority of the RSM field, but was tied with Patrick Rodgers at 19-under par after 18. A birdie on the second playoff hole gave Charles Howell III his first win since the 2007 Nissan Open (now known as the Genesis Open). Howell III has made a lot of money over the years with his steady play but has hardly any hardware to show for it. Howell has 88 career Top 10s, with 25 of those being either a second or third place finish. The RSM Classic victory makes just his third career PGA Tour win over a 19-year career. While he may not have fulfilled his trophy potential, there’s something to be said about a guy who’s made a living on the PGA Tour for basically the last two decades. Since Howell III broke onto the Tour, he’s never had a finish lower than 77th (2015) on the money list. With the Top 125 money winners each year retaining their Tour card, that means Howell III has never even really had to sweat about losing his.
For the final event of the 2018 calendar year, a small handful of the world’s top players will gather in the Bahamas for the Hero World Challenge. Hosted by Tiger Woods, the World Challenge was introduced back in 2000. Tom Lehman won the first-ever edition back when most of this year’s field was playing with junior clubs. The Tiger-hosted tournament will be taking place at Albany Golf Club in New Providence, the main island of the Bahamas. Although, the tournament gives out World Ranking points, it is not an official PGA Tour Event.
Back in full action, Tiger Woods will be present for this tournament with 17 other top players joining this week. 16 of the world Top 25 will be present, and no player is ranked outside the Top 32. Last year’s winner Rickie Fowler (10th) will return looking to defend his title. World ranked number one Justin Rose will try to keep his ranking because numbers three through five will also be there in Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau. Jon Rahm (eighth) rounds out the Top 10 players that are participating. After that its Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Patrick Cantlay, Alex Noren, Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Keegan Bradley and Gary Woodland. It’s a scary good field when you consider that Bradley and Woodland are the two lowest ranked golfers playing in the event. Some weeks both of those players will go for 10K and up, this week you can get them for $6,200 and $6,300, respectively.
The Bohemian course known as Albany is one we don’t know a ton about like we do with other courses on the Tour schedule. Measuring a bit over 7,300 yards and playing to a Par 72, it isn’t very long or short for Tour players. With no Par 5 less than 550 yards and four Par 4s measuring over 450, and possibly two drivable Par 4s measuring in the 330 range, I’ll give the nod to the big hitters and highlight driving distance as a key stat this week. With four Par 5s to attack, I like players who can score really well on them (Par 5 scoring) as a way to gain most of their birdies this week. Strokes gained: approach, perhaps the most popular and relevant metric in Fantasy (and real) golf, will be important this week and Strokes gained: tee-to-green. When a group of players play a fairly unfamiliar course, generally whoever’s been hitting it the best will be at an advantage, and tee-to-green will tell you who’s getting it around the golf course the most efficiently.
2018 Hero World Challenge DFS Picks
Dustin Johnson ($10,500) As you’ll see with my picks, I’m leaning towards the longer hitters and banking on them dominating the Par 5s and managing the rest of the course. For Dustin Johnson, there’s really never a bad time to take him, as he can win any tournament that he enters. However, DJ, for whatever reason has a much easier time beating strong fields when it’s a non-major. Although the field is major quality, this is as non-major as it comes. Johnson has won all of the WGC events over the course of his career, and the Tournament of Champions twice. A tournament in the Bahamas, with just 17 other terrific golfers, has a DJ win written all over it. Afterwards we’ll all ask, “How can he win every strong-field event, yet only has one major?”
Rickie Fowler ($9,800) Fowler is the defending champion here from last year. He just played his first two events of the year at the Shriners and Mayakoba Classic finishing T4 and T16, so his game is looking pretty solid. In this field I can understand why you might not want to pay the steep price for Fowler when you can get players of equal or better caliber for less, but I’m going on the premise that Fowler is a course horse here, and that he’s currently torching Par 5s this season. Fowler set the course record here last year with a final round 61, giving him the win over Charley Hoffman by four strokes. With the way he’s played Par 5s this year, there’s no reason not to think he can’t do it again. Fowler has averaged an incredible 4.33 on Par 5s this year, or, in other words, he’s shot 16 under on the 24 Par 5s he’s faced in this young season. More of that please, Rickie.
Bryson DeChambeau ($8,700) After the Ryder Cup, we all forgot about the amazing run DeChambeau had late last summer winning two playoff events in a row. Then BAM! The kid comes back from his fall break and wins yet another tournament beating the Shriners field and Patrick Cantlay with three 66s and a 65. It was his fifth career win and fourth of the 2018 calendar year. At this price, you can fit DeChambeau in with any collection of golfers including the top guys like Dustin Johnson and/or Justin Rose.
Tony Finau ($7,500) Here’s where Tony Finau can provide a lot of value. When Finau is priced in the high 9K or low 10K value, his lack of winning can sometimes become a problem. Finau, who is a Top 10 machine, can get you those solid finishes, but never seems to win. This week, he’ll be your fourth or fifth guy in terms of pricing. So if Finau can play solid and finish high amongst these guys, $7,500 is a steal, and who knows? He certainly is good enough to break out and win the whole thing. This week Finau comes in as the second-best value play according to DailyRoto’s value optimizer. The only guy that comes in ahead of him is the next man on the roster…
Hideki Matsuyama ($6,900) Hideki Matsuyama! That’s right, Matsuyama is in completely unfamiliar salary range right now. I can’t think of a time where Matsuyama went for less than 8K or so, so for $6,900 that’s a complete steal, especially considering he won this tournament just two years ago. He’ll surely be one of the most owned players this week, but with only 18 players in the event there’s really no getting away from the high ownership rates for each player. However, I’m predicting Matsuyama to be by far the highest player owned under 8K. Known for his incredible ball-striking, Matsuyama had a tough year last year, going winless for the first season since 2015. However, he was starting to show signs of his former self late in the season, finishing 39th in the money rankings and just narrowly missing the Tour Championship.
Gary Woodland ($6,300) Big Gary Woodland is the second-cheapest play this week on DraftKings. Woodland had a hot finish to the 2017-18 season and is off to a hot start on the 2018-19 side. Outside of a T41 at Mayakoba, Woodland finished inside the Top 10 in his other three events this year including a runner-up finish at the CJ Cup in Korea. Woodland always ranks near the top in driving distance and is currently ranked 12th in strokes gained: approach, 49th in tee-to-green, and 14th in Par 5 scoring. If he keeps his hot stick, he should outplay most of the field and contend.