While Viktor Hovland returns to Albany Golf Club looking to three-peat, there’s no need to bury the lead: Tiger Woods is back.
Also this week’s tournament host, Tiger hasn’t teed it up in a competitive round since the Masters last April, where he made the cut but withdrew on Saturday with issues in his right foot.
He’s also expected to play the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, but all signs point to this being an uphill climb. He recently dropped to the lowest world ranking of his career (1,328) and he sits last on this week’s odds board.
We break down the favorites, Tiger’s chances, the course, and more in our Hero World Challenge betting preview below, including live golf odds, free golf picks, and more.
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Hero World Challenge field and favorites
Considering this is a 20-man field of the top-ranked players in the world, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to see Tiger Woods at the bottom of the board.
His 50/1 odds this week are similar to what we’ve seen when he’s teed it up over the last couple of years, and while he won this event four times between 2004 and 2011 and finished fourth here in 2020, it’s hard to back him in any fashion without having seen him compete.
Meanwhile, the top of the board is lined with back-to-back defending champion Viktor Hovland and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.
Hovland might just be the hottest golfer on the planet. He finished last season with back-to-back victories at the BMW and TOUR Championship before helping Team Europe dominate the Americans at the Ryder Cup.
This will be his first Tour start since East Lake but he has played twice otherwise since then, finishing fifth at Wentworth and T2 at the DP World Tour Championship.
For Scheffler, it’s been a wild ride of close calls. He’s finished worse than T12 just twice in the last 12 months but somehow hasn’t won since THE PLAYERS in March. He also fell short at East Lake again despite starting with the lead for the second straight year.
Max Homa and Collin Morikawa make up the third and fourth spots on the board at +750 apiece, with Justin Thomas (+1,400) rounding out the Top 5 after maybe the worst season of his pro career.
Hero World Challenge course notes and weather
The Ernie Els-designed Albany Golf Club is a Par-72, 7,309-yard desert-links hybrid with five Par 5s and five Par 3s. Four of the last six events finished with a winning score of exactly 18-under.
Weather projects to be pretty solid, with the temperatures ranging between 75-80 degrees and winds not expected to surpass 15mph at any point in the week.
Hero World Challenge picks and predictions
Viktor Hovland over Scottie Scheffler (+110)
Seldom would I recommend betting against World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, and while this is certainly not for the faint of heart, there may be an opportunity to do so this week.
On top of being the back-to-back defending champion here at Albany, Viktor Hovland has only gotten better and is the hottest golfer on the planet right now, full stop.
And while Scheffler finished runner-up behind Hovy each of the last two years, he played three times in the fall before the Hero World in 2021 and five times a season ago. That’s not the case this time around; take away the Ryder Cup and he hasn’t made a competitive start since East Lake in August.
Hovland, on the other hand, finished fifth at Wentworth before dominating the Ryder Cup and then went on to finish T2 at the DP World Tour Championship two weeks ago. The hottest golfer in the world is doing what he needs to do to remain sharp.
Hovland’s putting edge notwithstanding, the statistical resumes are quite similar over the last few months, but the fact Sheffler hasn’t played since August isn’t being priced in.
Considering bet365 has this matchup as short as Hovland -138, the +110 price at Caesars is tough to pass up.
Pick: Viktor Hovland over Scottie Scheffler (+110 at Caesars)
Cameron Young over Jordan Spieth (-114)
In the same vein, Jordan Spieth is another guy who hasn’t teed it up since the TOUR Championship and gets to go up against a guy who’s already made two — albeit not super impressive — starts this month.
Cam Young has gone just T54 and T38 in those two starts this fall but Spieth has been even worse. He closed out the season by finishing 27th out of 30 guys at East Lake and went on to be one of the worst golfers on either side at the Ryder Cup.
And while he has a win and a number of great finishes to his name here at Albany in his career, those all came 6+ years ago. He finished 16th out of 20 guys a season ago, dead last in 2021, and 16th out of 18 golfers in 2019.
Young finished third behind Hovland and Scheffler a season ago and despite the so-so finishes of late, I like his chances against Spieth who has just a couple of decent finishes going all the way back to the Masters.
Pick: Cameron Young over Jordan Spieth (-114 at Unibet)
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Hero World Challenge recent winners and odds history
Let’s take a look at some recent Hero World Challenge winners and their closing odds to win:
|No event: COVID-19 related.
Odds courtesy of GolfOdds.
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