The top end of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) will make a pit stop in the Bahamas this week for the Hero World Challenge. This event is hosted by Tiger Woods to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. Although golfers will not earn FedEx Cup points, it is officially part of the PGA Tour schedule and OWGR points are up for grabs. The field is made up of 20 golfers, with invites going out to the top 11 golfers in the world, recent winners, defending champions, and two special invites from Woods. This will be the sixth time that the tournament is being played at Albany Golf Club and the first time since 2019, when Henrik Stenson was the winner.
The course, per the PGA Tour scorecard, plays as a Par 72 and 7,414 yards. Shotlink data is not available for this tournament so we will do our best to judge a “fit” based on some past leaderboards and very limited stats.
When you have the world’s best playing in such a small field, it can be hard to make assumptions on whether the course caters to a certain skill set, considering how much better the field is than a regular tournament. I might lean towards accuracy being more important here than in a typical tour event, but also like 90% of events, distance is still a larger advantage overall. Again, it’s hard to say and I will be leaning mostly on my overall skill ratings.
Below are two of my picks for this week’s event. For all of my picks, check out our bets tracker and use the code “Axis” to save 10% if you’re not already a subscriber!
Matchup | Collin Morikawa -110 vs. Justin Thomas | DraftKings
In a field made up largely of elite players, it can be difficult to pull the trigger on matchups. It’s easy to do mental gymnastics and make the case for virtually any golfer in the field. Yet that is why we do our best to let the probabilities guide us in our decision-making. There hasn’t been much separating these two golfers to end the season, but the small course adjustments I made lead to a small edge on Morikawa. JT’s iron game can rival Morikawa’s, however Morikawa has consistently been better - and probably the best in the world - for over a year. What he lacks in distance is made up for by avoiding wild drives and playing more from the fairway than most other elite golfers. This doesn’t always lead to big gains off the tee, but it limits blow-up holes and allows for those best irons in the world to take aim with more precision than from the rough. The fairways are wide here, but we’ve seen in past events that missing them can cause issues. It’s small things that will create edges between the elites and I think we have just that here; a small edge on Morikawa.
Outright Winner | Daniel Berger +1800 | BetMGM
We have 20 golfers to choose from. So we should try and find the winner, right!? As mentioned above, a case can be made for many here. But I drifted to Berger due to my sims showing some value on the +1800. He had a career year in 2021 and although we haven’t seen him play since the Ryder Cup, I find it hard to assume that he’s forgotten how to play. His ball-striking was unbelievable last season and near the end of the year it was actually his putter that let him down (and not terribly). His game is similar to Morikawa’s. Neither of them possess elite distance but are still good drivers of the ball and then rely on their irons from the fairway. While Berger lacks Morkiawa’s elite approach game, he makes up it for by being a much more consistent putter, which comes in handy when you need to go low. Berger can, and will, capitalize on his good approaches by making birdies. I’m looking past the “rust factor” a bit and didn’t adjust his rating all that much for it, leading me to a smaller number. I’m happy to take the +1800.
Bryan DeCorte, better known as Axis, is a PGA & Euro golf analyst for FTN. Axis has been deep diving golf stats for 5+ years and before joining FTN he was a part of Fantasy Golf Bag. He specializes in 72-hole match up betting and Euro Tour DFS.