Fantasy Golf Cheat Sheet: Hero World Challenge

The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.

THE FIELD

This is a tiny, 18-man, invite-only field. The event is sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and none of the prize money (first place is $1 million) counts toward the PGA Tour’s money list. The good news for fantasy is there is not a cut, but the bad news is in such a small field, there’s really no room for error. You’ll need all your players to finish inside the top 10 to have a shot at winning any GPPs this week, and landing the winner will be an absolute must.

The field is stacked with top players and will include the one and only Woods himself, who is coming off a stunning defeat to Phil Mickelson in their heads-up pay-per-view match. This is a hard event to handicap but it’s fun nonetheless, and there’s still a lot of money at stake for the pros and in some of the big GPPs on DraftKings.


THE COURSE

Albany Course, Bahamas
Par 72, 7,400 yards

This is only the fourth time this course will have been used for the Hero World Challenge, and that is important to note because we only have a few years of small fields and course data to go off. The Albany Course is an Ernie Els design and sets up as a very exposed, links-styled venue. There’s some serious bunkering on the course, too, and Els himself described it as a course that mimics some of the classic links venues from Scotland.

The course is also quite dissimilar from most tour venues in that it is actually a par 72 but has five par 5s and five par 3s (and only eight par 4s), seemingly giving the good par 5 scorers an advantage. What is certain is being in the Bahamas on an exposed course means the wind can — and will — be a factor. Players who hit it long and can handle some expected gusts should have an edge this weekend, but at this point in the year, any player who comes in with solid form will have a shot in what is essentially a high-stakes exhibition for the world’s best players.

One final note: A good comparison for this course might be the Olympic venue we saw in 2016, where Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson went toe-to-toe and the scoring was often dependent on the weather — specifically the amount of wind. A similar situation likely will occur this week. Calm weather could see players approach the 25-under Bubba Watson put up in 2015. As of writing the weather looks great for Thursday, but the wind will pick up through the week with gusts getting close to 20 mph on Saturday. A winning score of between 18-20 under par — similar to the past two seasons — is a probably a good target.


PAST FIVE WINNERS

2017—Rickie Fowler -18 (Charley Hoffman -14)
2016—Hideki Matsuyama -18 (Henrik Stenson -16)
2015—Bubba Watson -25 (over Patrick Reed -22)
2014—Jordan Spieth -26 (over Henrik Stenson -16)
2013—Zach Johnson -13 (over Tiger Woods playoff)


FINDING VALUES

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.

PlayerOddsDK PriceComparables
Patrick Cantlay20-1$6,700Patrick Reed $7,100 and 20-1
Hideki Matsuyama $6,900 and 22-1
Xander Schauffele $7,300 and 20-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

Rickie Fowler has played at this week’s venue each of the past three seasons and finished T3-T3-1. He traditionally has been a good wind player who has had some success at open-style venues in the past, so it’s not shocking to see this course suits his eye. His closing 61 last year was one of the best rounds of the year, and he should be hyped to go for a repeat this week as his 2018 has been one to forget thus far.

Patrick Reed nearly won on this course back in 2015 and finished T10 here in 2016 and T5 last season. He’s had success at some open-style and windy venues in the past, too — Doral, Plantation Course in Hawaii — and should be considered one of the lead horses this week despite the small sample size. Reed’s coming off an extended European Tour run where he finished T2 in the season-ending playoff event in Dubai a few weeks back.

Hideki Matsuyama has played the Albany Course each of the past three years now and has finished T5 and 1st in the last two years. Matsuyama hasn’t shown the greatest form of late, finishing outside the top 20 in each of his past three starts. Even so, he’s capable of contending this week at a venue that has been kind to him in the past.


RECENT FORM

Justin Rose is on a pretty ridiculous run right now and has finished outside of the top 10 only twice in his past nine events. The Englishman won the Turkish Airlines event against a strong field in Europe in his last start and finished top five at both the PGA Tour Championship and the WGC China event. He’ll be looking for his first Hero win in the Bahamas this week.

Patrick Cantlay has been in solid form going back to last July. He gave up the lead late at the Shriner’s Hospital Open but still finished in solo second place for the week there. He put up a T17-T7-2 line over his three fall starts and enters this week in better form than most. He will be playing his first ever Hero event but has the pedigree to surprise in this type of field.

Bryson DeChambeau only played in one event in the fall swing but made it count, coming from behind to take down the Shriner’s Hospital event in Vegas. DeChambeau has three wins in his past five starts and enters this week with more confidence than perhaps any golfer on the planet. He also will be making his first ever start in the Hero Challenge but looks set to make an impact given his recent run.


MY PICK: Tony Finau ($7,500)

Considering the setup and his continued stellar play into the fall season, you have to love this as a breakthrough spot for Finau. This will be his first time playing the Albany venue, but with a shorter setup and five par 5s to attack, the Utah resident, who ranked third in Par 5 Scoring last season, will be in great shape to attack some of those holes.

It’s also worth noting Finau’s other tour win came in Puerto Rico, another off-mainland event on an open venue where wind came into play. His close call at the WGC China event (playoff loss) also should be a good motivator and proof he can compete and beat an elite field like the one we’re getting this week. The fact he’s put together a couple average finishes since that time means we’re getting a great price on the big hitter this week for DFS. Finau’s my pick to win what is essentially the year’s final event — an achievement that would put the capper on a solid 2018 season.


MY SLEEPER: Alex Noren ($6,500)

Many players are coming into this week off extended rest periods or just a lack of competitive play. One player who has played extensively in the late fall, though, is Noren, who took part in both the WGC China event (T18) and the year-ending DP World Championship event more recently in Dubai (T9). Noren’s a solid wind player and finished T12 here last season while coming in with much poorer form.

The Swede had a good showing in his past two end-of-year events, however, and his ability to handle some varying conditions (multiple-time winner of the Scottish Open) shouldn’t be overlooked with the forecast set to see winds in the 15-20 mph at some points this week. The small field means even the low range is stacked with quality players, but of that group, Noren’s recent form gets him the nod for me, especially at a venue where his ability to get hot with the putter really could pay off given the number of scoring chances.


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