There was no PGA Tour event last week, so let's do a quick recap of the most recent tournament, the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Ga., which was also the final official PGA Tour event of the year. Then I'll address Tiger Woods' highly-anticipated return to action this weekend in the Bahamas.
Mackenzie Hughes was the winner of the RSM Classic. The Canadian drained an 18-foot par putt from off the green in a Monday morning playoff to become the first rookie in 20 years to go wire-to-wire for his first PGA Tour win. Hughes could have finished things off Sunday in near darkness, but his birdie try on the 18th just missed. So he, Camilo Villegas, Blayne Barber and Henrik Norlander returned to the par-3 17th Monday morning. All four had wayward tee shorts, and only Hughes was able to get up-and-down. Those guys finished regulation at 17-under.
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I'll be honest in that I barely know of this guy. I had heard his name in August when he won a Web.com Tour event. The RSM was only his ninth career tournament on the main tour and fifth as a member after finishing in The 25 this year on the Web.com Tour. So needless to say, Hughes wasn't on my radar. I liked Charles Howell III at +3300 to win. He was in contention entering Sunday but shot a 71 and finished T13. That's about all I have to say about that tournament.
This week's it's the unofficial Hero World Challenge, an event that benefits Tiger's foundation. It's basically getting the media attention of a major since Thursday will be Woods' first competitive round since Aug. 23, 2015, when he finished T10 at the Wyndham Championship just ahead of that year's FedEx Cup playoffs. This 466-day period will have been his longest layoff since he turned pro in 1996. Tiger is way down at No. 898 in the world. While this tournament doesn't offer FedEx Cup points or count toward the PGA Tour money title, world rankings points are accumulated. Even if he finishes last in the field, Woods is expected to climb at least 150 spots in the rankings. Woods could rise as high as No. 123 in the world with a victory in the Bahamas.
Tiger has a bunch of new sponsors -- remember, too, Nike isn't producing golf equipment any longer. Reportedly Woods is using a variety of metal woods, but he has the same Nike irons and wedges he used in his last tournament. He'll wear Nike shoes but has switched to a Bridgestone 330S golf ball. Some people care about that kind of stuff. Woods had committed to play in the PGA Tour season-opening Safeway Open on Oct. 13 in California but withdrew, saying that while he felt physically confident, he didn't have enough in his game. A recent report, though, quoted Tiger saying he is carrying his driver 300-310 yards. So his back must be healthy.
Tiger is a five-time winner of the Hero World Challenge. He last played in the tournament in 2014. It's just an 18-man field at Albany Golf Club in New Providence, Bahamas. World No. 1 Jason Day would have qualified to play, but he's still resting his injury.
This event has had several names and has moved around a bit. The defending champion is Bubba Watson. He hadn't planned to play last year in the Bahamas because he didn't have a passport yet for his newly-adopted daughter. But when Day pulled out, Watson was able to get everything in order. Watson fired rounds of 67-67-63-66 at Albany to finish at 25 under and win by three over Patrick Reed.
Golf Odds: Hero World Challenge Favorites
Since it's such a small field, I'll just list every player with Bovada odds to win: Dustin Johnson +500, Jordan Spieth +600, Hideki Matsuyama +800, Brooks Koepka +1000, Henrik Stenson +1000, Patrick Reed +1200, Justin Rose +1600, Watson +1600, Rickie Fowler +1600, Matt Kuchar +2500, Russell Knox +2500, Emiliano Grillo +2800, Louis Oosthuizen +2800, Tiger +2800, Brandt Snedeker +2800, Jimmy Walker +2800, J.B. Holmes +3300 and Zach Johnson +3300.
Golf Odds: Hero World Challenge Picks
I'm sure there will be Woods specific props later this week. I think being realistic, a good tournament for Tiger is not to exceed 75 in any round -- and to obviously finish all four rounds. It's clearly not a very tough course.
I would probably take Johnson and Spieth at +200 against the field (-275). Spieth just won the Australian Open and won this tournament two years ago. He was fourth last year at 20 under. Johnson was 15th in 2015 but is a vastly better player these days. Go Stenson at +250 as the top "rest of the world" finisher. He just won the Race to Dubai on the Euro Tour.
Enjoy the holiday season and I'll be back in the New Year with your weekly tournament previews.
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