Some of golf’s biggest stars will tee it up this week in the Bahamas for the 20th annual Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods.
Contested at the Albany in New Providence, Bahamas, the made-for-TV event will offer tremendous scenery and visuals for viewers, as well as a big payday for its competitors.
As the final high profile tournament of the calendar year, the field is limited to 18 top-ranked tour pros, headlined by the host himself.
Name: Hero World Challenge
Where: New Providence, Bahamas
Distance: Par 72, 7400 yards
Architect: Ernie Els
Format: 18 players, no cut, 72 holes, stroke play
Defending: Rickie Fowler
Winning Share: $1,000,000
World Ranking Points: 199 field/48 winner (projected)
TV & ONLINE
Thu: 1:30-4:30 pm (GOLF)
Fri: 1:30-4:30 pm (GOLF)
Sat: 12:00-2:30 pm (GOLF); 2:30-5:00 pm (NBC)
Sun: 11:00-1:00 pm (GOLF); 1:00-4:00 pm (NBC)
The Hero World Challenge has filled the December void in the schedule since 1999 when Tom Lehman shot a final-round 67 at Grayhawk Golf Course to defeat David Duval (No. 2 in the world at the time) by three strokes.
Since its inception, the tournament has been very exclusive: the inaugural event had 12 golfers, and some eighteen years later, it has expanded to just 18.
The field’s exemption list is as follows:
1. Winners of the previous season’s major championships
2. The defending champion
3. The tournament host
4. One sponsor’s exemption
5. The remaining highest-ranked players in the OWGR
The tournament has been played in Arizona, California, and more recently at Albany in the Bahamas.
Past winners have included five-time winner Woods, two-time winners Davis Love III and Graeme McDowell, along with the likes of Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Rickie Fowler.
2017: Rickie Fowler
2016: Hideki Matsuyama
2015: Bubba Watson
2014: Jordan Spieth
2013: Zach Johnson
2012: Graeme McDowell
2011: Tiger Woods
2010: Graeme McDowell
Low Score: 262 (-26) – Jordan Spieth (2014)
Winning Margin: 10 strokes – Jordan Spieth (2014)
Decked out in his typical ostentatious bright-orange Sunday wardrobe, world No. 9 Fowler began his day with seven-consecutive birdies, taking amazingly little time to close a daunting seven-stroke 54-hole deficit, and shooting an 11-under-par 61 to win the Hero by four strokes over Charley Hoffman, who had been the leader by five with 18 holes to play.
Tiger, who was stories A, B, C, and D coming into the week, had an up-and-down final round 4-under 68 with a hot front nine and a pedestrian back nine that allowed him to finish in a tie for ninth place.
FINAL TOP 5
1 Rickie Fowler -18
2 Charley Hoffman -14
3 Tommy Fleetwood -12
3 Jordan Spieth -12
5 Justin Rose -11
5 Hideki Matusyama -11
5 Patrick Reed -11
Albany is a luxury golf resort community on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas, which opened October 2010.
The investors behind it are British billionaire Joe Lewis’s private investment company Tavistock Group, alongside golf legends Woods and Ernie Els.
Albany offers a broad array of amenities, including an Els-designed 18-hole championship golf course, a luxury boutique hotel, a family water park, an adult pool, a spa and fitness center, a children’s clubhouse, a variety of restaurants and bars, and a 71-slip mega-yacht marina.
Albany is named after a historic pink Bahamian colonial mansion called Albany House, which was formerly owned by French film maker Jean Chalopin, the creator of the animated television series Inspector Gadget.
Albany House also served as arch villain Dimitrios’ beachfront home in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale.
Many top professional golfers are members of Albany, including Els, Woods, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Ian Poulter, and Justin Rose.
Albany’s 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Els, combines the best of links and desert features with firm fairways framed by windswept dunes alongside strategically placed water features.
The course stretches to 7,400 yards for the pros, but when the winds are calm, the game’s elite can go real low, as was the case in 2014 and 2015, when Jordan Spieth (-26) and Bubba Watson (-25), respectively, sizzled en route to victory. The front nine offers the better scoring opportunities with an extra par-5.
In addition to the par-72, 7,400-yard golf course, Albany features first-class practice facilities including a 400-yard driving range, short game area with chipping and putting greens, and a cutting-edge swing performance center, all set aside an expansive golf clubhouse with grill room, men’s and ladies locker rooms, a golf shop and 18-seat media and movie theater.
The field for the Hero World Challenge is headlined by host Woods, and features the champions of 23 major titles, including recent winners such as Patrick Reed (2018 Masters), Justin Thomas (2017 PGA Championship), and Dustin Johnson (2016 U.S. Open).
Other top-ranked stars include world Nos. 2, 5, and 8 in Rose, Bryson DeChambeau, and Jon Rahm, respectively.
PAIRINGS & TEE TIMES
11:10 am Tony Finau, Gary Woodland
11:21 am Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama
11:32 am Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele
11:43 am Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson
11:54 am Jon Rahm, Alex Noren
12:05 pm Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods
12:16 pm Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson
12:27 pm Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson
12:38 pm Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau
ODDS & WORLD RANK
Book Rank-Player-Odds-World Rank
1. Justin Rose (7-1) (2)
2. Dustin Johnson (8-1) (3)
3. Justin Thomas (9-1) (4)
3. Rickie Fowler (9-1) (9)
3. Tiger Woods (9-1) (13)
6. Bryson DeChambeau (10-1) (5)
7. Jon Rahm (12-1) (8)
8. Jason Day (16-1) (11)
8. Tony Finau (16-1) (14)
10. Patrick Reed (18-1) (15)
10. Xander Schauffele (18-1) (13)
12. Patrick Cantlay (20-1) (20)
13. Hideki Matsuyama (22-1) (25)
14. Alex Noren (25-1) (18)
14. Bubba Watson (25-1) (17)
14. Henrik Stenson (25-1) (28)
17. Gary Woodland (28-1) (32)
18. Keegan Bradley (33-1) (29)
Credits: Getty Images