Twenty of the world’s best golfers teed it up in the Bahamas for the annual Hero World Challenge, contested at the exclusive Albany Championship Golf Course.
First held in January of 2000, the tournament is hosted by Tiger Woods and features an all-star invitation-only field.
In 2015, the tournament went global, moving to the Bahamas, after a decade plus on the West Coast and one year in Florida.
Ernie Els designed the par-72 championship golf course in Albany, which features a 7,309-yard layout, mixing five par-5s with five par-3s, and eight par-4s. The links-style course is highlighted by windswept dunes and several challenging water features.
Before the tournament, Woods, who has not played competitive golf since he withdrew from the Masters in April, said, “My game feels rusty; I haven’t played in a while.”
Joining Woods for the 72-hole no-cut event were two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland, world No.1 Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Max Homa, among others.
This year’s event saw an increased purse of $4.5 million, with the winner taking home $1 million.
The first two days saw the leaderboard in constant motion as players continued to find this unique course layout to have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The front nine seemed to lull the players into a false sense of security as they had little problems moving up the leaderboard. The back nine brought them back to reality as most players had problems negotiating what appeared to be a difficult stretch of holes.
On day three, Scottie Scheffler shot a 65 to pull ahead by three shots on 16 under. Matt Fitzpatrick, fresh off a recent win at the Dunhill Links Championship, birdied the last three holes on Saturday to match Scheffler’s 65, and join the world No. 1 in Sunday’s final pairing.
Woods continued to struggle trying to regain that “magical touch” he made famous throughout his career. This was his fifth time playing here in the Bahamas and has only once finished within 10 shots of the winner. He headed into the final round at even par. After completing his third round, Tiger said, “I still have game, it’s whether or not the body can do it. I’m very pleasantly surprised at how I’ve recovered every day.”
Other players at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round, along with Scheffler -16 and Fitzpatrick -13 were Justin Thomas -12, Jason Day -10, Tony Finau -10, Collin Morikawa -10 and Jordan Spieth -10. Viktor Hovland, this year’s defending champion, headed into the final round at (E) par.
The leaderboard, as the last twosome made the turn to the back nine, had Scheffler leading by four shots on 18 under. The remaining top-5 on the board included: Tony Finau -14, Sepp Straka -14, Spieth -13, Thomas -13, and Fitzpatrick-13.
Woods had reached the 16th hole sitting at -1. He started the front 9 with a double bogey on the par 3 2nd hole but had worked his way back to -1. After his birdie on the 15th hole which got him to -1, he bogeyed the 16th he parred the 17th and 18th to finish on even-par 288. He seemed to struggle at some points during the final nine holes, both today and yesterday, but overall, managed to finish all 72 holes and host the awards ceremony.
Scheffler won the 2023 Hero World Challenge with a -20 with a final round 68. He picked up the winner’s trophy along with the first-place check for $1 million. With the win, Scheffler’s Official Career Money Earnings are $43,120,567.
Straka finished solo second on 17 under after a final-round 64. He took home $375,000 for his efforts. The third-place check of $225,000 went to Thomas (67). He finished -16.
“The challenge of playing with a lead, in the final round, is not easy,” Scheffler told reporters after signing his card. “Whether it’s mechanically, strategically, or emotionally.
“I played some good golf today. No boogies, so, I felt like when I needed to make some birdies in the round, I was able to do so like on 14 and 15. Then you know, I just played solid today and kind of kept my distance from the rest of the guys.”
The win was Scheffler’s third of the 2023 calendar year, with his most recent coming at the Players Championship in May at TPC Sawgrass.
“I mean same game plan as always, I mean my lines may be changed by a few feet depending on the situation, but for the most part, I mean, everything was basically the exact same,: he added. “I was just trying to hit good shots and give myself some good looks.”