Hero World Challenge Odds: Collin Morikawa and Rory Mcllroy Lead the Pack

Hero World Challenge odds and complete betting preview from handicapper Tom Jacobs. Tom breaks down everything you need to know.
Tom Jacobs |
Mon, November 29, 1:16 PM EST | 4 min read
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Hero World Challenge Odds: Collin Morikawa and Rory Mcllroy Lead the Pack

While not an official PGA Tour event as no FedEx Cup points will be rewarded, there will be a keen sense of intrigue around this week’s Hero World Challenge, as it provides the last chance for fans to see the world’s elite tee it up in 2021.

This event started in 2000 and two renewals were held that year, first in January and then again in December, and it’s remained in that December slot ever since.

In 2015, the event moved to Albany in the Bahamas, after years in California and Florida, and we have seen a new winner every year since making the move. Bubba Watson won at -25 when first moving here in 2015 and that remains the record.

Since Watson won, we have seen three International winners and just one other American. Rickie Fowler followed in Watson’s footsteps in 2017, with Hideki Matsuyama (2016), Jon Rahm (2018), and Henrik Stenson (2019) the other winners. The 2020 renewal was canceled due to COVID-19.

While this isn’t an official PGA Tour event, players still accrue World Ranking points, which as Henrik Stenson has proved over the past couple of years, can be vital if you lose form.

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How to watch the Hero World Challenge?

  • Thursday-Friday, 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday, 12 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. (NBC)
  • Sunday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Golf Channel), 1 p.m.-4 p.m. (NBC)

Hero World Challenge Odds

GolferOdds
Collin Morikawa+800
Rory Mcllroy+800
Justin Thomas+1000
Viktor Hovland+1100
Bryson Dechambeau+1200
Jordan Spieth+1400
Xander Schauffele+1400
Sam Burns+1600
Scottie Scheffler+1600
Abraham Ancer+2000

Click Here For Hero World Challenge Odds

Qualifying criteria for the Hero World Challenge

  • The Hero World Challenge field is made up of the reigning major champions as well as the current PLAYERS champion, while the other spots are filled by invites from the World’s Top-50, and the Defending Champion.
  • As there was no event in 2020, last year’s major champions are eligible also.
  • This is the first time the field has increased from 18 to 20 players, a change that will be permanent.
  • Fifteen of the twenty players in the field this year rank inside the top-20.

Last Time

It’s been two years since Henrik Stenson won here in 2019, but with COVID-19 forcing the event to be canceled last year, Stenson is still our Defending Champion.

Stenson made 19 birdies and 2 eagles en-route to his -18 winning score, which was capped off with an extraordinary eagle on the 15th hole. Stenson stuffed his second shot from around 260 yards to a matter of inches for the tap-in eagle.

This was a timely eagle, as defending champion, Jon Rahm had gone birdie-eagle-birdie from the 14th to the 16th hole, and posted -17 in the clubhouse. Given Stenson only edged him by one stroke, and had to two-putt from 50ft on the final green, it’s fair to say that the eagle on 15 was the difference.

Stenson overcame a one-stroke deficit after 54-holes, as he was trailing US Open champion, Gary Woodland going into Sunday.

The first three home in 2019 all shot six-under on the final day, as Stenson beat Rahm by one and Patrick Reed by two. The rounds of the day belonged to Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, and Tony Finau all of whom posted rounds of seven-under.

The Course

  • Albany Golf Course
  • Length: 7,309 Yards
  • Par: 72
  • Greens: Bermuda
  • Designer: Ernie Els

Correlating Courses and Events

Tournament of Champions (Kapalua)

This seems like a fairly straightforward comparison. Both events are limited field events, made up of generally elite players only, and occur on either side of the New Year.

Add into that, that it’s a coastal design in a Hawaiian resort that is surely not too dissimilar to the setup here at Albany and you have a reasonably clear match.

Given there are five par-5’s here at Albany, low-scoring is the order of the day, and with an average winning score here of almost 20-under-par, it’s akin to that of the Tournament of Champions which can go even deeper.

In terms of actual result crossovers, there are a few pointers.

  • Patrick Reed has a win and two 2nd’s at Kapalua and has 2nd, 3rd, and 5th place finishes here.
  • Hideki Matsuyama won here in 2016 and finished runner-up a month later at the Tournament of Champions.
  • Jordan Spieth is a former winner of this event, at a different course but has 3rd and 4th place finishes on this one, and has won the Tournament of Champions (2016) and finished 2nd.
  • Gary Woodland was 2nd at the Tournament of Champions and the 54-hole leader here last time.

Phoenix Open

On the face of it, there doesn’t really seem to be any reason for this event to correlate, but in terms of winners and top finishers, it does.

  • Hideki Matsuyama won here in 2016 and has won twice at the Phoenix Open and also finished 2nd.
  • Rickie Fowler has a win here and a win in Phoenix and has also finished 2nd twice in the latter. One of those 2nd’s in Phoenix came courtesy of a playoff loss to Matsuyama.
  • Gary Woodland won the Phoenix Open in 2018 and was the 54-hole leader here last time.
  • Bubba Watson won the first renewal of this event since moving to Albany and has a ridiculous record in Phoenix. While he’s never won there, Watson has two 2nd’s, and finishes of 3rd, 4th, and 5th in Phoenix since 2011.
  • Jon Rahm has won here and finished 2nd last time, and plays consistently well at the Phoenix Open. While he’s not won there, he finished 5th there on debut and has never finished worse than T16 there in four starts since.
  • Jordan Spieth has 3rd and 4th place finishes here and two top-9’s in Phoenix.
  • Tony Finau has finished 2nd both here and in Phoenix and should have arguably won both.

Stats

  • Par-5 Scoring - With five long holes that are all reachable here, you’re going to want to take advantage of these.
  • Bermuda Green Putting - Surface of choice here at Albany, and as we have seen in the past it can matter to the players.
  • SG Approach – You can’t set up the amount of birdie looks you need here, without dialing in your approaches, so your irons should be sharp.

Trend

  • Recent start - All five winners at this golf course had played an event in one of the previous three weeks coming into the event. Don’t expect to come in cold and win this event.
  • Current form - Henrik Stenson broke the mold last year, but before him, all four winners on this golf course had finished T4 or better in their previous start worldwide.
  • Incoming Form (Last 8 Weeks)
  • Course Form (Five Years)

The Field, Odds and Selections

Rather than have favorites, the field, and selections in three separate sections, as there are only twenty players in the field, I am going to write up each player. My selections will be in bold.

Rory McIlroy (+800)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 6-1
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

A calamitous finish to the back-nine in the DP World meant giving up the win to Collin Morikawa, but for most of the week he showed his return to form may be a lasting one.

Twice a winner in 2021 and really should have been a three-time winner, it would be no surprise to see McIlroy win this week, despite not playing this course previously.

I won’t be backing him as an 8/1 favorite against his fellow elites, but I could see why others would.

Collin Morikawa (+800)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 1-7-2
  • Course Form (5 Years) – N/A

Collin Morikawa fits the trends nicely. He’s played in the last three weeks, notably winning two weeks ago in the DP World Tour Championship, where McIlroy collapsed.

Morikawa has a chance to get to World No.1, for one week only if he wins here this week, and even if only for a week, it would be a nice way to crown a special year.

There is no course in the world Morikawa can’t compete at, but with the same logic I’ve applied to McIlroy, I’ll look elsewhere given his favoritism.

Viktor Hovland (+1000)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 1-18-44
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

Hovland got his third win on the PGA Tour recently when defending his title in Mexico and while Morikawa may be rightly stealing the headlines, Hovland is on a great trajectory also.

That win was recent enough to suggest he’s a match fit for this one, and he’ll likely be a factor.

At 10/1 I will go further down the board, but Hovland makes as strong a case as any.

Justin Thomas (+1000)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 3-18
  • Course Form (5 years) – 5-12-11

Three starts here have seen Justin Thomas finish 11th, 12th, and 5th and he’ll be hoping to go better this time around.

3rd in Mexico means like Hovland and Morikawa he fits the trends of having a start in the past three weeks and a top-4 finish in his last start.

That 3rd in Mexico was his third top-4 finish in five starts, and he appears to be finishing the year strong.

2021 was sub-par for Thomas, despite his PLAYERS Championship victory back in March, so it will be nice for him to cap off a strange year for him, with a win at Tiger’s event. Whether Woods is going to be present this week remains to be seen, but if he is, Thomas may just want to get a win in front of his buddy.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1100)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) - DNP
  • Course Form (5 years) – 15-12

Bryson got dealt with by Brooks Koepka last week in The Match, and his lack of match fitness clearly showed.

DeChambeau had downed tools since the TOUR Championship before going head-to-head with Koepka last week, but at least he got a few holes in there.

Clearly, there are bits to work on for DeChamabeau, so while I have all the confidence in the world in his ability to adapt, and quickly, I feel no need to take him here.

15th and 12th in two starts here doesn't really inspire me, but then again his game has completely changed now, so maybe he can take advantage of those Par 5’s. Still not for me.

Jordan Spieth (+1200)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 18
  • Course Form (5 years) – 16-3-6-4

2021 was a good year for Spieth on and off the course, but he slowed down toward the end of the season, after giving it another good run in the Open Championship, where he was 2nd.

24th of 29 players at the Tour Championship, 34th of 70 at the BMW, and 73rd of 100 at the Northern Trust suggests he went off the boil quickly.

His last start was at the CJ Cup, where a third-round 72 prevented him from finishing any better than T18, and had he have finished highly there I may have forgiven the recent layoff, but with both put together I’ll pass.

Spieth recently became a new Dad and that can either help or hinder his chances and at 12/1 I don’t need to take the chance it’s the latter.

Xander Schauffele (+1400)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 28-18
  • Course Form (5 years) – 10-8

Xander Schauffele is always loved in these no-cut events and will be making his third appearance in the event.

8th and 10th on his first two starts here at Albany, Schauffele will be looking to improve on both his course and current form this week.

In his two starts this season, Xander has finished 28th and 18th in two shorter-field events (78 players) and he will need to up it here to beat some world-class players who have played more recently and are in better form.

Aside from his 3rd (72-hole scoring) at East Lake, where he has dominated over the years, he’s been fairly quiet since winning the Olympics and that’s a red flag for me.

Would be a good get right spot ahead of 2022, but past starts here suggest he can’t come in the way he will be this week and win.

Scottie Scheffler (+1600)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 57-2-4-38-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

The burning question is when is Scottie Scheffler going to win? Even if he did this week, it wouldn’t be an official PGA Tour win, so the wait would continue, but it would be a good step.

There is no doubting Scheffler’s ability but as he’s shown both in Houston and in Mexico in two of his recent starts, there are question marks over his closing ability.

While the other 19 players here may just be looking for one final soirée in 2021, Scheffler will have all the motivation in the world to show the players here this week that he can beat them all.

I don’t personally like his chances to win, but he’s arguably the one who would benefit the most from a win here, at this stage of his career.

Sam Burns (+1600)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 7-5-14
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

Sam Burns has been in fine fettle for a long period of time now, with only two missed weekends in fifteen starts since winning at the Valspar. One of those was a withdrawal at the PGA Championship and the other a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but in regular events, he’s been on fire.

He will relish going up against 19 of the best players in the world, to prove his newly found elite status, after doubling his PGA Tour tally at the start of this season at the Sanderson Farms.

A truly elite ball-striker these past couple of seasons, Burns can mix it with the best when the putting surface suits and Bermuda greens are certainly up his street.

T11 in Par 5 Scoring Average last season, Burns will relish the five long holes here and he’s worth a second look.

Abraham Ancer (+1800)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 27-7-14-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

With a win this week, Abraham Ancer has the chance to climb into the top-10 in the world for the first time in his career, and that highlights his rise as a golfer.

He disappointed last time out in Dubai where he finished T27 in a 53-man field, but before that he was 7th at home in the World Wide Technology Championship and 14th at the CJ Cup, so it hasn’t been a dreadful fall for the Mexican.

I have tended to overlook Ancer a lot in the past based on odds, and I am going to do the same here, despite 18/1 being fair in a short field.

Daniel Berger (+1800)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – N/A
  • Course Form (5 years) – 14

Daniel Berger is the type of player that can break the mold and play well off the back of a bad result or an injury layoff, but when playing against 19 of the best players in the world, I would have liked him to tee it up at least once in the past two months.

He wasn’t in the best of form when finishing 14th out of 18 here in 2017 and he also failed to break 70 in any round, which doesn’t appeal to me, especially with the lack of match practice.

Tony Finau (+2000)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – MC-45-45
  • Course Form (5 years) – 10-2

Tony Finau has been out of sorts the past two months, but you don’t have to go back too far for his playoff win at the Northern Trust and he also closed with a 65 at the CJ Cup despite finishing 45th, so there have been flashes.

Course form of 2-10 the last two times here and a clear fit for the track, Finau will relish a chance to get back to an easier course after a tough spell. When 2nd here in 2018, he was the 54-hole leader, and he can go well again this week.

I like others further down the field but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go well.

Webb Simpson (+2200)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 8-14-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – 10

Simpson had a bit of a strange 2021, but there were still some excellent results and with an 8th place finish last time out, he will be hoping to round out 2021 with a strong finish.

When 10th here in 2019, Simpson shot two rounds in the 60’s but his opening-round 73 put him behind the 8-ball at the start of the week. If he can get off to a faster start this week, he could be a threat.

A pair of 66’s over the weekend at the RSM are fresh in his memory and he will hope to continue that form.

Simpson led the field in SG Approach and SG T2G at the RSM Classic and was a better putting week away from contending. I will take a chance he finds that here in the Bahamas, especially with his win in Phoenix in 2020 potentially a bonus as well, if there’s anything in that correlation.

Brooks Koepka (+2200)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – MC-MC-38-67
  • Course Form (5 years) – 18-13-7

Before destroying Bryson 4&3 in a 12-hole exhibition, Koepka had been dreadful and we know he’s not one to take these sort of events seriously either.

While Koepka showed he was in decent form with his new equipment against DeChambeau in Vegas, he’s now got to come to the potentially blustery Bahamas and perform the same against 19 players of which half a dozen are in very good form.

Three appearances here have yielded a last-place finish, a 13th, and one top-10 (7th) so I won’t rush to bet him, even if the odds appeal.

Tyrrell Hatton (+2500)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 16-MC-40-18
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

Hatton has been hit and miss all season, and while he managed a T2 finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links the week after the Ryder Cup and three decent rounds at the CJ Cup to finish T18, he’s been largely average since.

The last time we saw Hatton was when he was T16 at the DP World Tour which was fine, but nothing else in a 53-man field. He broke 70 once that week when shooting a round-of-the-day 66 on Saturday but it was otherwise uneventful.

I will let him win without a ticket on him if he does manage to produce the goods.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2500)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 2-64-30-1
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

Matthew Fitzpatrick is intriguing this week because you really do have to weigh up how much emphasis you put on European Tour results.

His last two starts in Europe are a win at Valderrama and a 2nd behind Morikawa at the DP World, after finishing 20th at the BMW PGA Championship. Sandwiched between those results though is a T30 in Bermuda where he was favorite and a T64 in Mexico, a course you’d have expected to suit.

I will be honest and say I have no idea what to expect from the Englishman here, but as I can’t see an obvious path to victory, I will leave him alone.

Harris English (+3300)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – MC-WD-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – N/A

Harris English has looked broken since the Ryder Cup, and it may be the Rules Officials there who are to blame, or maybe more likely Team Europe.

Before his singles match on Sunday with Lee Westwood, the rules officials told English that he needed to address his extremely worn putter grip as it was non-conforming, and while he knew the time would come that he had to replace it, he clearly wasn’t ready. This was more than likely flagged by the captains for vice-captains of Team Europe.

In three starts since the Ryder Cup, English has missed two cuts and withdrawn after 54-holes at the CJ Cup citing a back injury, and while there haven’t really been any disastrous rounds during that spell, it does feel like English is miles away from his best.

I will wait until English has shown me he’s ready to compete again before backing him.

Justin Rose (+3300)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 12-40-57
  • Course Form (5 years) – 5-3-5-WD-13

I really like Justin Rose’s chances this week for a multitude of reasons, but I think his current form is probably being overlooked.

Rose was 10th at the Wyndham, his last start of the previous PGA Tour season, and he then went over to the BMW PGA Championship in England and finished T6 with a final-round 65, as he looked to push for a Ryder Cup pick.

It wasn’t to be for Rose, but since then he’s finished 57-40-12 but none of those results tell the whole story. When 57th out of 78 players at the CJ Cup, he had started the week with a 75 but went 65-69-68 from then on.

In Mexico, Rose shot rounds of 67 and 68 and two rounds of 70, so nothing too bad, he just didn’t find that one low round that would have catapulted him into contention.

Last time out though, at the RSM, Rose finished 12th to make it a third start in a row where his result improved and he closed with a Sunday 65. His third-round 70 cost him a chance of finishing in the top-5, as he was just three strokes shy of those in T4 and one stroke shy of the top-10. Given how close he was to contending last time out, I think he can find the form that has seen three top-5’s in five starts here.

Rose lives on the Albany complex and does his practice here, and while home course advantage tends to be a sticky subject and not always pan out, I’ll take my chances with one of the rank outsiders here.

Patrick Reed (+4000)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – 32-61-56-2-68-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – 3-11-5-10-2

Apart from a 2nd place finish in Bermuda where the weather dictated who could and couldn’t contend, Reed has been pretty poor so it will be interesting to see how he performs in an event he relishes.

I feel like Reed’s issues are injury and health-related, and he will find his regular form again soon enough, but I will wait until 2022 to back him again. The temptation was to just take the last three in the betting here, especially with generous each-way terms of five places if you can get them, but for win-only I will look elsewhere.

Henrik Stenson (+5500)

  • Current Form (8 weeks) – MC-MC
  • Course Form (5 years) – 1-4-17-2

As noted earlier, Henrik Stenson is the only player to break the mold of winning here, without finishing T4 or better in his previous start, and he was in fairly mediocre form in the build-up.

He was 44th out of 49 players at the DP World Tour on his last start, T17 out of 63 players at the Nedbank, and T20 out of 78 players at the WGC Champions, so he wasn’t showing contending form.

On the face of it, his form looks worse now with two missed cuts in his last eight starts, but before that he was playing some good golf in Europe. Before those missed cuts in Mexico and Houston, Stenson has finished T30 at Wentworth, T15 in Italy, 3rd at the European Masters, and 4th in the Czech Masters, so he was on a great run.

I’ll take a chance on literally the biggest-priced player in the field that he can replicate his win here two years ago, or his 2nd on debut in 2016. 1st, 2nd, and 4th in three of his four starts here, Stenson clearly loves the course, and while his current form suggests his 17th place finish in 2017 is the most likely result, I will give him the benefit of the doubt at such long odds. With a lack of motivation a potential factor for many in the field, he may just take advantage.

Selections

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