The Hero World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods returned to Albany Golf Club in The Bahamas after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The field of 20 consists of quality as opposed to quantity. Past major winners Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, are joined by Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka, fresh from their man-to-man showdown at The Match, and Race To Dubai winner Collin Morikawa will all be hoping to walk away with the $3.5 million purse this week.
Stenson is the defending champion, having won here in 2019 by a single shot from Spaniard Jon Rahm. The difference-maker, a 5-wood eagle on the par-five 15th, separated him from a pack of four who all had a share of the lead coming into the final few holes. Henrik Stenson became only the third non-American to win this event, following Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama.
Despite the vast array of talent in the 20-man field this week, most attention is on Tiger Woods at least early in the week. On Tuesday, he held his first press conference since his February accident; the day before, he gave a riveting 30-minute sit-down video interview with Golf Digest.
He revealed the prospect of playing with his 12-year old son motivated him hugely throughout the rehabilitation process. He also openly discussed his son’s progress on the course.
“I went to golf tournaments to watch him play, and I’m looking at some of these scores he’s shooting, and I said, How the hell are you shooting such high scores? I gotta go check this out,” he told Koyack. “So I’d watch him play, and he’s going along great, he has one bad hole, he loses his temper, his temper carries him over to another shot and another shot, and it compounds itself. I said, ‘Son, I don’t care how mad you get. Your head could blow off for all I care just as long as you’re 100 percent committed to the next shot. That’s all that matters. That next shot should be the most important shot in your life. It should be more important than breathing. Once you understand that concept, then I think you’ll get better.’ And as the rounds went on throughout the summer, he’s gotten so much better.”
Three Players To Keep An Eye on This Week
The last time we saw Rory on the PGA Tour was when he was lifting a trophy on the 18th green at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas, but the last time we saw Rory on a golf course, he was furious with himself for tying sixth after failing to hold on to yet another 54-hole lead.
McIlroy has never played here at Albany before, but his game fits this course very nicely indeed.
Morikawa is in a hot run of form, having won the Race To Dubai and the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in his last outing.
Suppose Morikawa wins this week in The Bahamas. In that case, he will become the number one player in the world and if he achieves that with victory at Albany, he will become the second-fastest player to reach number one in the rankings, after the tournament host this week, Tiger.
Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick comes into the tournament under the radar, but his putting is good, he is a fantastic ball-striker, and he always plays well in the wind.
Fitzpatrick finished second to Morikawa in Dubai in his last tournament and won in Spain just a couple of weeks before that, so like Morikawa, he comes in in good form.
Date: Dec 2nd–5th, 2021
Course:Albany Golf Club