We’ve got the best of both worlds in this week’s abbreviated PGA Tour event.
First, we’ve got a stellar field of 20 of the world’s top players. Second, and this is the important part for bettors, even with the big names on hand, there are longshots to ponder when it comes to making a wager.
Sound intriguing? We thought so.
This week’s event, the Hero World Challenge, is being held at Albany, Bahamas. If you’re starting to get the looks of winter in your part of the country, here’s your chance to escape for a few hours and watch top golfers on a top golf course in a tropical climate.
The tournament, hosted by Tiger Woods (no, he’s not in the field), offers players the chance to end the year on a high note, as 15 of the world’s top 20 players are on hand.
And with the limited field comes the chance for bettors to find a hidden nugget or two that could pay out nicely.
Odds To Win The 2021 Hero World Challenge (BetMGM)
Collin Morikawa +700
Rory McIlroy +750
Justin Thomas +1000
Bryson DeChambeau +1100
Viktor Hovland +1100
Jordan Spieth +1200
Xander Schauffele +1200
One Last Hurrah For Players
This is it for everyone until the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Maui during the first week of January.
That is, if you’re qualified. If not, the Tour players’ first chance to tee it up will be the next week on Oahu at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.
But let’s finish up this calendar year before we look ahead.
And what better way to spend the Christmas holiday than celebrating with a victory this week. With just 19 other players to beat, everyone’s odds are a little lower than usual.
But that won’t stop us from trying to find a longshot to back. We’re looking for someone hungry enough to take this more seriously than others might be. After all, it’s guaranteed money just for showing up.
But there is one player who looks at every event the same way – it’s time to pick up that first win.
Scottie Scheffler .… Come On Down
We’ve been in this spot before and picked Scottie Scheffler to win and come up just short.
We’re not jumping off the bandwagon, and +1600 this week, he’s right in the middle of the pack.
He’s done everything this season except win. Now that’s a big hurdle to overcome and he’s come up short more than once, but he’s close enough to taste that first victory.
He’s got top-five finishes in two of his last three outings (a solo fourth at Mayakoba and a T2 at the Houston Open), so he’s comfortable being on the first page of the leaderboard.
Now he’s just got to get comfortable enough to close the deal come Sunday.
Way, Way Down The Oddsboard
It’s tough to imagine a defending champion having the longest odds in the field, but so it is, as 2019 winner Henrik Stenson (the 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic) comes in this week at +5000.
Is it a longshot for him to win? Obviously, as he’s dropped to 179th in the World Golf Ranking. He’s been off the radar recently, but he’s got a tee time and the advantage of being the last man standing the last time this event was held.
But the bad news, and why he is +5000, is he’s only made two starts in the wraparound season with nothing to show for his efforts, missing the cut in both events. That stretched his streak to five straight MCs on Tour.
In a 20-man field, all it takes is a hot streak with a few putts falling and a little luck, and Stenson could be back on the march up the world rankings.
Battling guys like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and the other high-profile Tour guys can do nothing but help Stenson’s confidence.
Looking At The Favorites
The challenge, if you’re going to pick a favorite this week, is narrowing down the choices.
Who’s not to like this week?
With most of the Tour’s big guns in the field, picking a winner is a little like making a choice between a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Porsche, or …. well, you get the picture. The cars, and the players in this field, all have outstanding qualities – i’s just a matter of your preferred taste.
We’re going to stick with our go-to guy, Collin Morikawa. At +700, he’s this week’s favorite and probably should be one of the favorites just about every time he tees it up in the foreseeable future.
He’s had a Hall of Fame career this season alone, and he’s still learning the game on this level. Since last June, he’s got two victories, a second, two T-4s, and a handful of other top-10 finishes. Add in an impressive Ryder Cup performance, and you’ve got quite the run.
But he’s also taken his show on the road, coming off a jaunt to Dubai, where he won the DP World Tour Championship. That win also locked him in as the first American to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Is there anything else this guy needs to do?
Well, a win here in his first time playing in the event would certainly top off a year most players only dream about.