It has been a strange week for golf with World Cups and $9m shootouts but thankfully we are back this Thursday with some standard tournament play. As 2018 starts to draw to a close, we return to the Hero World Challenge in what has become a traditional way for most of the world’s top golfers to close out the year.
Tiger Woods is our host once again as we head to Nassau, Bahamas and his Albany Golf Club where a strong field awaits.
Qualification for this event comes via a number of routes with invitations given to the four Major winners. They are supplemented by 11 available players from the world rankings plus the defending champion plus two special exemptions which all add up to a small field of just 18.
This year that field is led by Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson who are at similar Hero World Challenge outright winner odds with most of our recommended American sportsbooks. DJ (+800 with Bovada) was number one for much of 2018 but Rose (+700) came through to claim top spot while taking out the FedEx Cup along the way.
Neither man has won this event and they don’t have particularly good records here either with Rose’s tie for 5th the best result between the two.
Also vying for co-favoritism is defending champion Rickie Fowler (+800) and this week’s host Tiger Woods (+900). Fowler was expected to kick on from that win and maybe even claim a Major in 2018 but he has yet to lift a trophy since. As for Woods, he is a five time winner of his own tournament and has shown his best form at times during his latest comeback.
Another in the mix, according to the offshore bookies’ Hero Challenge betting lines, is Justin Thomas (+900) who was outside the top ten on his first appearance in the Hero Challenge one year ago. Like most of the golfers this week, he is well rested following the Ryder Cup and has the game to provide a genuine threat.
Also worth noting in the chasing pack is Bryson Dechambeau (+1100), who has enjoyed an outstanding year and then we have Jon Rahm (+1200) who is another player who hasn’t performed in 2018 as many expected. Both are making their debuts at Albany and that is why they have slipped down the Power Rankings but there is every option for either to convert at generous odds.
With only 18 men in the field it’s debatable as to whether there are any real outsiders with Keegan Bradley (+3500) boasting the longest odds. This is a man who won the BMW Championship in stunning style and he remains in sound form so, despite being the longest price, he could challenge this week.
Towards the start of the outside bunch is Tony Finau (16/1) who is one of the few American golfers to have remained active since the Ryder Cup. His power hitting could be a factor on some lengthy par 5s but he is another debutant at New Providence island’s Albany course.
A little further back is Hideki Matsuyama (22/1) who won this event in 2016 during a hot streak of form but the Japanese has lacked touch since and some will be surprised to see him included in the field.
The other former champion in the field this week is Bubba Watson (28/1), who started 2018 in spectacular fashion with three tournaments wins but hasn’t quite been able to maintain that in the second half of the year. Elsewhere, there is a lot of interest in Xander Schauffele (+1800). He took home the WGC Champions crown recently and we also have Patrick Reed (18/1 as well), the reigning Masters Champion who closed out the European Tour in good form earlier this month.
Our Preview’s Hero World Challenge Course & Betting Trends With Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Hero World Challenge first came along in 2000 and in the history of the tournament, our regular host Tiger Woods is the most successful player here with five wins. Multiple champions are not uncommon with Graeme McDowell and Davis Love III also completing doubles so there is a trend for backers of Fowler and Watson.
The course at Albany is a par 72 at above 7,300 yards and there are opportunities for the big hitters to excel on the par 5s. Wind can be a factor but the course tends to be benign and scoring should be low across the four days.
With only 18 players in the field there will be no value in any top ten markets but there has been interest in Xander Schauffele and a top 5 punt should return a decent profit. As for the winner, he has been inconsistent across the season, but if Justin Thomas is on form then he has the game for the conditions. So our golf Hero World Challenge predictions are:
- Justin Thomas to win @ +900 (9/1) with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline.
- Xander Schauffele for a top 5 finish @ +250 (5/2) with Bovada.
Matt Harris is a golf and soccer expert for USA Betting. His other area of specialist knowledge is cricket. He is well known in sports journalism and contributes articles to a plethora of big-name websites and media outlets. Titles that he writes or has written for include: Betfair, BetVictor, Unibet & Just Bookies.